Mariluna Guzmán
Africa Dream Volunteer

For three consecutive weeks we received in the farm, located 20 km southeast
from Nairobi, groups from Lodungokwe, Barsaloi and Tuum, towns in the north
of Kenia located in the semi-desert in the Samburu county.
It belongs to the Samburu tribe, first cousin of the world known Masai. However
they have had less contact with tourists, therefore they maintain their deep-
rooted traditions; their most important characteristic is that they are herders,
mainly raising goats, cows and camels. Given that their diet is based on milk,
meat and blood, it is poor and deficient in vitamins and minerals.
From many years ago the missionaries from Yarumal, our local partner in
Kenia, had a dream of teaching agriculture to this people as a way to help them
improve their diet and health; today, after many battles, we have started it
thanks to the contribution of different organizations in various countries.
Due to the fact that the Samburu live in the semi-desert, their water source is
their main limitation because all the water that they use has to be bought in
barrels and, in some cases they have to walk long distances with them on their
heads. This is the reason why the mission has been working to be able to have
a well, with it the people will be able to install irrigation systems to supply water
to the communal garden that will be on the mission’s land, the desired Chamba,
as it is called in the local language.
The groups are: 86% to women whose ages go from 20 to 67 years old, the
highest percentage are between 22 and 31 years old, working woman with an
average of 4.6 kids per woman. In their culture, women and girls are the one
who fulfill house tasks, like collecting wood, water, milk the cattle, shepherd and
even build houses or manyattas. This is why the program focuses on them, but
it is also open to receiving men who are interested in working the land.
In total each group will come to the farm 5 times, for a period of a year and a
half. This includes housing and meals for five days each time, during that week
we will start the training with theoretical classes, workshops and recreational
activities.
During this first week of training the challenge will be great. We needed to be as
recreational as possible to teach women and men, where 39% of them had
never attended school and only 48% of them understand English; this is why we
always used an English-Kisamburu translator.

The first topic was about organic agriculture and biodiversity, this is because we
want to teach them to be sustainable and respectful with the environment; we
also did a sensory activity in which we gave them different types of vegetables
and fruit to taste, for example: beets, which they had never had before and it
had a lot of acceptance, everyone liked it and they started eating it at lunch and
dinner; this was a very important milestone because salads or raw vegetables is
very strange to them, only 19% eats them.
During this week they also learned the concept of crop rotation and about
favorable relations that can exists amongst them to avoid any kind of plagues
and to deliver nutrients, we also worked with organic techniques to prevent
plague infestations by creating their own bio-repellent with local and low cost
materials.
On the next session they learned how to elaborate liquid fertilizer from the
manure from the animals that they have, rich in nutrients, especially in nitrogen.
It is easy to prepare and to use due to the fact that the soil in all three locations
is very poor.
Another technique, also related to the improvement of soil fertility is compost,
they also has the opportunity to make it.
During the week they also learned about techniques for soil preparation and
planting, with which we try to decrease water evaporation by building a sunken
bed, like this the surface exposed to sun and in contact with the wind is
decreased.
These were some of the techniques reviewed during the week. And since not
everything could be about study and working with the land, we also created
recreational activities with the groups, with this we wanted them to be able to
work certain capacities but in a fun manner. The first activity was related to the
taught crops and it was made through a classic memorizing game, the one we
all played as kids once, but that they did not know. It was a very fun moment
where everyone laughed and enjoyed a lot.
Next afternoon we made an creativity in which they had to develop their
creativity, playing with watercolor; the idea was that they discovered new colors
from red, blue and yellow, this was accomplished successfully, each person
created between 3 or 4 beautiful pieces that we then exhibited on the wall of the
dining area in the farm, we also took those pieces to make envelopes in which
they took the seeds they collected.
We also played bingo that worked to develop their concentration capacity and to
practice numbers. The last night we wanted to share with them with a bonfire
where we sang, danced and it also worked as a place where they expressed

their regards for everything we taught. It was a very touching moment and as a
conclusion gift for the first week they all received a lemon tree.
And that is how the first and much awaited three weeks of training ended, our
hearts are full because we have heard how grateful everyone is for these new
knowledge that we have shared with them, they know that they are tools that
will help them produce their own food, which they did not have access to, this is
because vegetables do not reach certain towns or because if they do, they are
too expensive and also, they are not in good conditions.
There is still four weeks of training for each town and we hope to be able to
have more volunteers from Chile that are willing to come and give a little bit of
their time to help complete the training circle. The experience of knowing the
Samburu culture is priceless and you will be welcome with open arms by the
missionaries of Yarumal.