Archive for the ‘Ultruistic projects’
The seedlings are almost ready. What a transformation!! The photos were taken on the 9th of June exactly two months from the date the Youth Reform boys and girls started to clear the dump site. We still have issues with the soil test and will try to intercrop plants that will extract the heavy metals, with food plants. When the crops and extraction plants are mature we will test them to see the effects. Hopefully the food crops will be ok?
Nothing is quite so annoying as deleting an entire page of writing ‘by mistake’……………………….sigh,………
Saturday April 26th is a day I will always remember as being a huge eye opener for me. Claire sent Erik over to collect Wakio and I to take us in to Kibera to the site. On the journey, Erik gave us a running commentary on Kibera, the social systems, the networks, people, ‘villages’, chiefs etc. Kibera began to feel like a country within itself, with its own governing mechanisms and law courts. We drove into Kibera through the route behind Uchumi Supermarket on Ngong road.
It was a beautiful day in Nairobi, the city in the sun, the roads decorated with colour and pace as Kenyans of all walks of life got on with whatever the day had to offer. I remember a couple of ladies who waved recognition to Erik as we turned in the slum road, they didn’t look as afraid as I expected them to. In fact, what was noticeable is I was looking for something that did not exist. Where were the angry people, where was the chaos? The ambience was full of ‘soul’ as folk just got on with the day. Everyone oblivious to the questions swirling around in my head.
My mind was racing back and forth finding conclusions around every corner, and contrast and confusion on the way back. Where were the furious folk that had only months learlier stripped the rail tracks right off the ground, turning what appeared to be an angry powerful rusted centipede upside down? Footage adept for the next Mad Max.
I asked Erik why folk had done this to sever a system connecting themselves , their trade, their job routes. His response was not one we had read about in the media. He told us that during the electoral violence the people within Kibera were cordonned in by the police who did not allow folk either in or out. In this quest for security of our city of Nairobi and it’s environs, the people of Kibera began to starve as there was no incoming food. Recognising the need to attract the media as no one else seemed to take notice, the people of Kibera made the biggest statement they could to attract attention. In a frenzy of anger and fury, they defeated the iron centipede and tipped it on it’s side. The media came running……………the photos were spectacular……….the voices of Kibera were heard and translated into a story that failed to get the point across. Kibera fell silent and ignored a few days later. So they did it again. Interestingly enough, turning the railtracks is now a silent threat and I am sure we have not seen or heard the last of it.
Whilst telling me the stories, we passed, people, many people, all busy with life. Then we pulled into the side road next to the Youth Office next to a big black water tank. This was the farm site. There were about 15 young men around the area and as Wakio and I pulled our gum boots on in the car, I tucked my cell phone safely in my money pouch. My first impression was where do we start? Apparently the youth had been removing plastic garbage for weeks! And there was still alot of that kind of work left to be done.
Erik had to leave and said he would be back in a bit. So there stood Wakio and I amidst a group of self reformed youth, in Kibera, on our own, in our boots, in the mud, without an escape route,ready to turn this space they had diligently preserved and tried to clean, into an organic farm. For a split second I was actually looking for the safest exit route just in case we were attacked, robbed, mugged………………then the guys shyly introduced themselves and began to show us their proud farm.
70 Meters long by 13 Meters wide. In a flash I ruled out cattle farming and goat farming and began to question if there was any space for rabbits! I remembered an incidence in Switzerland where I was part of a discussion about a project in Arusha Tanzania. I objected to being involved and said I thought the best course was for the folk to go there and see what is on the ground and asses the needs whilst there. It reminded me how only minutes before in the car, my discussion about milking goats for the farm would have resulted in some very miserable starving goats………….unless we fed them on the crops we were growing…………..or grew some vertical foliage?? Tithonia fences perhaps? Which made me think of composting material……………..there was simply nothing to realistically compost……….a road on one side and a railway on the other.
Mohamed , one of the youth in charge, led us over the land.Whilst most of the garbage had been removed, there were tufts of plastic and glass at most intervals. I take my hat off to these guys, they had sifted through over 3 feet of compacted plastic garbage to unveil what I knew we could turn into the jewel of Kibera.
The plastic was now all lined up alongside the edge of the plot, which fell away to the railway track about 10 feet below. I believe we should make as little change as possible to the ways of nature so began to study the foliage that had survived the trash and clearing excersise. This is what I found.
Pumpkin,Potatoe, Eggplant, Tomato, Amaranthus, (in the pics)not in the pics, melon, bean, wild sorrel, wild purslane and malva. Those are the family types that like the soils on this plot, mainly cucubit and solanacea. However, I assume the brassicas were not present as the chances of their seed being in the garbage were nil. There were a few of their wild ancestors notifiable by their seed pods, in the narrow row of weeds between the wall of plastic garbage and the steep incline to the tracks.
We talked and walked and made plans quickly scribbled in a note pad, but firmly printed in my mind. As I showed Mohamed and his team how to prepare the planting beds for the next week, I noticed how they were as captivated as I was by the unfolding plans, even opting to dig the more difficult double dug beds if need be.
I left them at 2 pm digging and I am told they continued for the rest of the day as well as the whole of sunday!