Monthly Archives: September 2019

Stories from a former volunteer 

Francisca Vergara
Kenya 2011-2012

I was exactly one year in Africa, in my case I was in Kenia. The people who live there have
little, but they are very happy. It’s like they don’t need material things, maybe it is because
they are rich in spirit, and that is what matters. There are other basic needs that we take
for granted, and I wanted to experiment all of that face to face.
During my experience, I developed an empowerment project with young people who
were living in the street; we build a henhouse. It was their idea and it turned out to be
their little business, which also helped them to rejoin with the community, considering
that they are an outcast group for the society.
My biggest learning of all of this experience is to live happily with what we have, and leave
beside our pessimistic feelings since there is so much to smile for. This experience left a
mark in my professional life, and also changed how I use to see life. For example, the way
of how I live my daily life, and being kind to the people (whoever it is) is not that hard. I
realized how lucky am I and how important is to live the moment, make the most of the
hours that we have in this world by doing something that fills you spiritually because
money is not everything.
To those who want an experience with Africa Dream, my advice is that every moment,
take it as it comes. You will be going to a continent where everything is completely
different. I also recommend to say “I love you” more often, many people would say that is
not necessary, but it is. Lastly, share with the people who matters and makes you happy,
be surrounded by those who fill your soul. Over that year in Africa, plenty of those “ghost
friends” disappear on the way.

Gabriel Melo: Sharing knowledge

Time has flown by; the first five months of work in the farm have been full of learning. However, we have never lost sight of our goal: to train the Samburu communities in organic agriculture.   

By the end of July we officially started the program denominated “Community Gardens in Samburu: Lodungokwe, Tuum and Barsaloi” materialized with the on-site execution of the first workshop about management of soil for the groups that are going to participate during the first instruction cycle, which lasts a total of 18 months.     

From the moment that we found out about this first trip to the north to start the program, the enthusiasm took over each one of us, and the knowledge that it was finally going to start, that the garden had been getting ready for the past two years for this, gives us such a deep sense of excitement. 

Arriving to this place, reuniting with the people from the missions in the north is a reason for happiness; there is always so much to share with the priests, seminarians, volunteers, sisters from the Saint Theresa congregation, workers from the mission and the people that belong to the community. The fact that we could witness the big expectation that is placed on this program in the missions is something that fills us with motivation to give the best of ourselves.  

After a warm welcome in Barsaloi, we met a group that was mainly formed by women. It brought a lot of joy for us to see the huge interest that everyone was showing for the workshop, by making questions, talking amongst each other or simply by listening intently the knowledge that we were sharing.  

In Tuum the story was no different. Once again, the all-female group showed a great predisposition to learn and do the experiments that we had prepared for them with their own hands; these consisted on determining the texture of the different soils and then create small piles of compost. Unlike Barsaloi, in Tuum there are some families that have ventured into agricultural practices, mainly in vegetables like “Sukuma wiki” and Swiss chard (frequently eaten in the country), according to the results shown in the initial polls that we made.  

After a long trip from Tuum, we reached our last destination: Lodungokwe. This last group, the least homogeneous in age and gender, is formed by five young males and six females, which is something very positive in our point of view. This will allow cooperative work amongst them, something that is not always possible in the Samburu communities, especially in the more conservative families.   

Generally speaking the results of the experiment of soil are very similar in the three missions, where sand predominates over mud and clay, which poses, without a doubt, a big effort to the program. This mandates to look for different techniques of improvement for the soil and optimization for the water; these are needed to overcome this obstacle.  

Once we were back in the garden and with our batteries fully charged we were able to testify, with confidence, the importance this program we are creating has for people. Even though we are just starting, we are convinced that in the near future a lot more people will be able to benefit thanks to this kind of programs. The results will be reflected on improving the diet and where, over time, these new abilities can turn into an income for each family.  

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La Capitanía 80, Of. 108 - Las Condes, Santiago
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