Logistics for the whole group going to Yatta was organized by CITAM, Nairobi. Participants were drawn from different professions mobilized through the Pentecostal Church Valley road as here in Kenya, churches are the best means in mobilizing people from all works of life to participate in a project. We had a good mix of people from all walks of life. Our students being only 5 could not make a quorum expected for the class so we joined the group of professionals from various fields mobilized through the church. Guor being a good time keeper and generally good in logistics took lead of the team to ensure everyone arrives on time to go to CITAM from where all met for departure.
We used a bus through the Nairobi Thika Highway and finally got into some rough road that seemed to lead to some desert. It did not make sense for those who were going to Yatta for the first time what they were going to see in the desert. Some participants seemed to loose heart as they approached Yatta. The cheer vanished on most faces as we approached our destination a desert like place.
DAY 1: We arrived at about 5pm and had a cup of tea and bread. We then went to class and had introduction to the facilitators and participants. The Community Transformation Model was then introduced by Dr Masika. Dr Masika said we were going to patch on trees for the night and that everyone was going to be assigned ‘a tree’ to sleep on. It gave an impression that there was no place to sleep as such. It made some apprehensive. In reality the rooms were hidden someplace where the new arrivals had no idea about. That was part of the many sweet surprises we were to encounter. We had social evening that was graced with warming ourselves at the fireplace as we remembered the African way of socialising in the recent past. We were divided in groups and had maize roasting/eating competition. Amol’s group emerged emerged the best but we were all on the winning team. The value of team work was emphasized.It was also a time for bonding as we ate the roasted meat that Guor had carefully supervised to ensure it is well done. The LEP studentspresented a snap preview of a Sudanese dance. It was fantastic! Some group sang nursery rhymes and it filled the air with peels of laughter as they sounded like real Kindergarten stuff. We were then treated to a nice dinner and soft drinks. We finally retired to nice cottages with twin beds and a bathroom/toilet. The rooms were unexpectedly nice. We constantly referred to them as ‘our trees’.
DAY 2: In the morning we were treated to heavy yammy breakfast then went to class. Dr Masika, the brainchild behind the Yatta model is a retired Principal/teacher of a secondary school and admirable manager. He expounded on the Community transformation model. He emphasized that it all begins with the transformation of the mind. The chairlady of the Yatta Community Jane told her success story in particular and the community’s success story in general of how she and the rest of the community has come out of poverty using the community transformation model and works of their hands were evident. She has a beautiful permanent house (initially she had a grass thatched roof that seemed to ready to collapse any time. And she has bought cows and involved her husband. The 71 year old Jane is now able to educate her grandchildren and wants to see them through university in compensation for the times she couldn’t afford to educate her children.
After class we went to the demonstration gardens and saw different types of technologies like wet bed technology, Zai Pit technology etc
We then moved to different projects like piggery, chickens, rabbits, cows; at the cowshed were 3 cows and besides that an extension where Bio gas is produced and used in the Kitchen to cook all the food.
At lunch break we had buffet. After lunch we went for site seeing (along the way we counted the number of dams within that village. More than18 dams within a short distance). One interesting thing is that before a man marries it’s a community requirement that he digs a dam for himself to prove he is now capable to begin life. It’s become an unwritten rule in the community.
We bought some note two books, a book on the Yatta model and a magazine.
We visited one farmer, Joseph, a class eight drop out who had began his farming with Ksh 20 from which he bought seeds for beans. He harvested beans and got 50,000Ksh out of that. He kept the beans and took advantage of the scarcity of beans. He sold the beans and got….money. He has a dam of his own and a family dam that is owned communally by the family. Joseph grows different types of crops, keeps cows, chicken etc. He finds a ready market for his produce and has joined a SACCO with other farmers in the village. He ensures every family member including children participates in all the projects at his home. Joseph stood out as a very inspiring farmer indeed.
We came back for a cup of tea/bread made from cassava and off we left for Nairobi.
What was not so good was that Daniel dropped out last minute and had to travel back to Nakuru to see his Doctor as he was suffering from kidney stones. He was replaced by……a S Sudanese student from the University of Nairobi.
Akim and the Prog Coodinator talked to Dr Masika and the possibility of him becoming a Friend of LEP and supporting LEP students in their project in South Sudan. The target here is Liliir Community as a starting point since the project derives its name from Liliir. In my opinion, Liliir could become a model community and the communities around could benefit either from the spill-over effect or the demonstration effect.
At the end of the day we were all happy but Guor seemed the happiest of us all
(See his photos!). The students were impressed with the learning and signed up for the follow up training on “Transformation of Communities into industrial, agricultural and commercial villages”. The objective is: Training on job and wealth creation through agricultural value chain.
On the way back to Nairobi, I overheard students brainstorm on what next. They cheerfully ‘argued’ amongst themselves as to where the project should be. It was a heated debate and I enjoyed every emotion that went with it. Then I knew some learning had taken place and the students were ready for action once they are done with the follow up training on Transformation of Communities into industrial, agricultural and commercial villages. I imagined Liliir transformed but moreso, students achieving some form of food security in Nairobi by engaging in agri business during their long vocation.
Jacinta Iyaya- Scholarship Program Coordinator