Building Peace Through a Farm

In the last issue of Inner Circle we featured a report from two alumni as they embarked on a project for an international charity in Kenya. After several months of hard work, Tom Metcalfe and Rebecca Kuykendall have got back in contact to update us on the significant progress they have made.

Volunteering in Kenya

Three months into our director’s term with the  we launched the Peace Farm expansion project with the support of our young male population. Considering we were situated on a large plot of rich African soil and 3.3 acres of land, it seemed a natural decision for us to make the most of our resources. Added to this were 36 youths who needed a slight push to harness their initiative, a detailed rota and many late-night discussions aimed to allocate responsibilities.

We began by informally calculating how much money could be saved if we grew our own crops rather than purchasing them from the market. From this figure, we allocated the savings to buy/rent the tools we required. During the process we encounter several unanticipated obstacles. First, a total lack of all essential equipment to build a farm and secondly our complete lack of experience in farming. This all had to be achieved within the budget constraints which made us realise this would require extensive and meticulous planning.

The Transformation Begins

The challenge of transforming our ‘back garden’ into a ploughed field began with an open discussion. Having not a clue how to pull a plough, we suggested cows and horses might do this which sent the children into a fit of hysterics. We were advised instead to rent a tractor and several phone calls later the massive piece of machinery was due to arrive the next morning. Not without the typical Kenyan negotiations did we agree on a price. To our astonishment, despite a firm agreement of 9am the next day, we did not see a hint of this tractor until two and half days later!

Next, to protect our future crops we set out to buy a barbed wire fence. The younger boys dug holes and the older ones ventured out to purchase poles which would support the barbed wire. A local handyman assisted us in securing the barbed wire, but after he left we noticed a huge gap on the far right side of the fence. Three hours later, a light brown cow was seen strutting quite happily all over our freshly ploughed field! Rather than call back the handyman, we decided to finish the job ourselves by erecting a gate.

Planting the Crops

What began as a simple farm of maize and beans has now expanded to include kale, cabbage, onions and tomatoes in triple quantities. The Peace Farm, which only occupied a fifth of an acre previously, was now transformed into an expansive source of untapped potential, capturing the attention and hopes of boys from ages five to eighteen.

Working with IHF has taught us how rapidly changes can occur, in both improvement and deterioration. Our hopes for the farm are very big, and speaking of rapid changes, we have been requested by the CEO to transfer to Bali, Indonesia in one week’s time: which means a continued farm strategy will have to utilise the technological advances of Skype!

For more on IHF, visit us online at http://www.ihfonline.org