Hope, across the Equator

Before Rachel and Jon left for Kenya, they were interviewed by Granada ITV News at St Mary’s Catholic College in Blackpool. The interview is currently featured on the Granada ITV website. To watch the interivew please click on the following link: http://www.itv.com/granada/lanc-college-go-to-kenya70343/ 

This interview may appear on Granada News on Sunday 6th February.


Blog for Isiolo 2nd Feb


Karibu Isiolo! We have travelled north of the equator to the mountainous region of Isiolo. The landscape has changed dramatically from Kitui, with Mount Kenya dominating the horizon.

We have visited some incredible communities benefitting from grassroots programmes which are life changing for them. 

Moses Katama explains to us about the programme. He has thousands of onion crops and land for all his family of seven to use

Moses and his wife Cecilia by their enormous maize plants

Through the Catholic Diocese of Isiolo, the Maili Saba Irrigation project is helping more than 200 households at a time when the people had given up hope of accessing water. In 2002 the government brought in a Water Sector Reforms policy which prevented communities digging trenches for irrigation.

Paulo said: “We had lost hope for those 10 years. There were dropouts from school, no money but we were so happy when CAFOD came in.”

Now Paulo, his wife Lillian and three children are able to grow onions, maize and they are expanding to pumpkins, bananas and mangoes. The scent of the onions was pungent as it wafted gently on the warm breeze while we chatted to the community.

Paulo holding his two-year-old son Barack, with his wife Lillian

Within the next month the whole community will become self sustainable and will no longer need the assistance of government food handouts.

Simon and his four-year-old daughter standing proudly in their fields bursting with tomatoes

Growing crops in a drought prone area isn’t easy but there are other problems to cope with. Moses Katama told us of issues with the local wildlife. Most gardeners back home would sympathise with this. Slugs are a real garden pest. But Moses was referring to an incident involving a herd of elephants trampling his crops! He asked the Kenya Wildlife Service located nearby to chase them away which they did. The land, which is two acres divided between his family, is not compensated for by the government when an animal destroys it.

The group are very ambitious and have great plans to develop the land and cultivate more crops. This is very encouraging and empowering to see them so proud of their land and their crops and how it has made such a difference to their lives.


one of the community tends to the onions in the nursery. Onions are regularly sold at 65KSH per kg, about 65p

We were equally encouraged by a community in Kambi ya Juu who were farming dairy goats. The 34 strong group were former pastoralists but lost their livestock in 2007.

Agnes with one of her goats

The group currently has 18 goats between them. One goat can produce four litres of milk in one day, so a household can keep one litre for itself and sell the other three litres. This way an income is created.

75% of the group don’t have other forms of employment, so they depend on this as a form of income.

They hope to open a dairy shop in the future. Their dream is to have dairy cattle too. They’d even like to construct a factory to pack the milk!

a small shop run by the group provides further income. It sells fruit and vegetables bought from local farmers – a great example of grassroots development!)

The group are looking at ways to loan money to members for home improvements and to pay the fees of local children who couldn’t otherwise go to school. They would also like to give some of the milk away to locals. This was so impressive – a community with so little is so generous and shares so much. Joseph, the patron of the group, said: “It is the common man who gives, not the rich.”

Joseph, patron of the group, has the role of advising and guiding future plans for the people


Judy is the secretary of the group and she was taking the minutes at the meeting we attended.

We have been left so humbled by these communities who are so grateful for what they have. They own their projects, have a strong structure and definite, ambitious future plans. 

Development is a complex thing. CAFOD, through its strong, organised and committed partners, is doing wonderful things. 

I feel this Swahili proverb is so appropriate here: 

“Haba na haba hujaza kibaba.”

‘Little by little fills the pot’

Asantee sana and kwahairy!


2 thoughts on “Hope, across the Equator

  1. Greetings from Wet, Windy and cold Blackpool!!!
    We so look forward to the blogs. Its like opening a picture book on Kenya and its facinating people. (Its as good as a BBC documentary). We have learnt so much about the resilience, fortitude, generosity and love of the many people you have met. Thank you for sharing some of your experiences and special moments with us all.
    Especially liked Jon’s ‘Beckhamesque’ sarong and Rachel’s new Blackpool supporters kit!!!
    Love from Mum and Dad.xx

  2. Thanks! We are having such an amazing time. Again a big contrast this week in Nairobi looking at CAFOD’s urban programmes. There’s so much to tell you all that we can’t possibly blog about everything!
    Here’s hoping Rachel’s tangerine blood is coming through and she’ll be making an appearance at Bloomfield Road in her new outfit in the near future!

    Love and prayers,
    Jon xx

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