An inspiring week in Kenya

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Fomina Louis, CPL Aromas' Global Marketing and Branding Executive, recently had the opportunity to visit a CPL funded CAFOD project in Kenya along with the CAFOD team and its partner Caritas Mombasa.

The week started with a visit to the CAFOD Nairobi office, where the staff were welcoming and provided a brief introduction to their roles. An update on the various on-going projects was given which highlighted new programmes that need funding. The evening lent itself to a 6 hour train journey to Mombasa, leading through a beautiful stretch of countryside- home to many different animals and birds, spotting them was an ideal way to spend the long journey.

On the second day in Mombasa, the team met with Brother John, a board member of the Caritas Mombasa group, who briefed them on the day’s itinerary and safety guidelines. A drive to an area called Lunga Lunga highlighted the challenges the charity organisers face when having to reach distant villages. The journey consisted of dirt tracks and river ferries and after a 4hour drive the team eventually ended up at Kewagu-a small remote community.

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With more members of the Caritas group, a meeting was held outside a local villagers’ house compound- offering a summary of each members roles and their day to day tasks for the programme. They spoke of the challenges affecting the local populations in Lunga Lunga due to adverse climate conditions- limiting crop growth and productivity which affects the local farmers level of income. However, through the Integrated Food Security Program (IFSP), funded by CPL Aromas, targeted communities have been able to increase productivity through training, introduce household water harvesting for irrigation, improve farming mechanisms, introduce drought tolerant crops and improve meat and egg production.

The SILC methodology introduced by the Caritas partners through IFSP provided a great sustainable platform for the local communities to save and lend. SILC helps the local communities to access financial resources whenever required thus strengthening their livelihoods. The scheme has been a life-changing initiative for the people of the Kewagu Village.

Jackson, a member of the SILC fund scheme, spoke about the benefits of the scheme and how he is now able to cultivate and maintain a variety of vegetables and how the programme has enabled him to send all his 4 children to school. He also spoke on behalf of the local community members about the improvements and developments the programme has brought to their livelihood and thanked CPL for the generous funds. Jackson also highlighted the fact that the programme has also helped bring the community members closer together in unity.

After visiting more members of the IFSP in neighbouring villages, Fomina and Laura (CAFOD Representative) were invited to a local parish celebration. To their surprise, the locals had arranged a huge ceremony where they were welcomed as honourable guests with garlands and traditional singing and dancing followed by a cooked meal by the Parish priest. A truly humbling experience for both of them.

The next day, the team went to the Mwakirunge village in Kisauni. The villagers openly discussed various community issues faced by the people. Environmental degradation, deforestation and lack of rain and how it has hampered agricultural productivity. As climate change effects rainfall patterns across Kenya, the coastal region is deeply affected. This has led to overstretched water resources which threaten peace and stability in the Mwakirunge village since livestock rely on this water source. The community water well is a 10-minute walk away and the water cans are heavy to transport. During the session Caritas suggested the villagers install wheels for their cans. Further suggestions were made by Caritas when the group were shown around the village, from safeguarding the SILC funds to the introduction of household water harvesting for irrigation.

At the end of the week Fomina and Laura were able to debrief the rest of the CAFOD staff at the Nairobi office and reflect on their time meeting the villagers.

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Fomina said of the visit “Over such a brief period, I have met so many vibrant and lively people in these communities and experienced such moving encounters. This week in Kenya has been inspiring and I have walked alongside members of the villages making each community so unique- thank you CPL and CAFOD for this once in a lifetime opportunity!”.

It was a fantastic opportunity to see the dedication of the communities making these projects work and how CAFOD, along with partner Caritas, work towards making this happen. A greater understanding of how CPL Aromas donations are being used and the importance of the work being done was very apparent.

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