A Reason to Celebrate
2023 Trip Blog #4
Written by Diana Clarke
It is the end of the rainy season in Kenya and Monday, the day of the Official opening of the Nyawita Beyond Limitations community centre dawned with bright greens and blues. The community of Nyawita is a collection of small farms just outside Bondo. This time of year the farm gardens on community centre land is full and lush. Maize is planted everywhere, under mango and papaya trees and peas and beans are planted under the maize. The lush crops are the first thing you notice when you arrive at the 2.5 acre farm. They are the work of Dr Ben Mware and Peter Agok, both agricultural specialist who have all the Beyond Limitations farms growing beautifully. The plan is to use profits from the crops to sustain the project. The office and community room is cheerful and bright. We had spent Sunday setting up the site with two big shade tents with chairs. A cow was slaughtered on site for the occasion and the cooks stayed up all night preparing a feast for the whole community.
People are excited about the new centre. A quick errand was impossible because at every turn people came out to meet and welcome us. In the evening a very shy mechanic student, who had had a particularly challenging history, came over to express her joy and gratitude for her schooling. Other sponsored students arrived to tell us how happy they were to be able to go to school and have a career.
The morning of the celebration brought the whole community out, even the very young and very old walked through the trails to the farm. The seating filled and spread to the trees. Members of the Beyond Limitations Board locally and from Mikinduri, government representatives, community leaders and musicians. A small girl recited a poem and other school children danced pulling the Canadians onto the dance floor.
The speakers were full of passion, many reminding the audience that it was the community who would carry this forward. One particular student made a passionate plea for students to return and make a difference.
They came alive with Kathy’s presentation with pictures of Canadians shovelling snow and the frozen sea. Many wore vests and sweaters in the 30 degree heat and could not grasp the depth of our cold. There is no fancy presentation equipment so three of us circulated with IPads, their favourite seemed to be a picture of Ted and Rita Grant and pictures of Mageta Island.
The speeches were from the heart, many clapped and nodded and some nodded off in the hot sun.
Life is not easy for these hard working farmers. They have no power so no plugs for cell phones or TV’s. Few had running water and cooking is done over open fires outside often on charcoal they have made themselves. A small solar square on the roof often provides one dim light. And yet there were no requests for money or things. The focus is on education and making life better for the community.
This is a difficult time of year for casual labourers, between planting and harvest there is no work. We were told that out of 306 students 250 had been sent home that day, the first day of term because they couldn’t pay school fees.
But that didn’t dampen the celebration! We all danced and danced to traditional music. And what a feast! Everyone got fed at tables with cloth covered chairs, a maize dish, rice, fish, the afore mentioned cow, chicken with delicious sauces.
Community members got a better understanding of the programs and benefits of the farm and office; sponsored students were able to have their fees paid; and our Kenyan Team felt love and appreciation for all of their hard work to get to this day.
The celebration is still the talk of the town!