visting Sam Ouma's
21.03.2010 30 °C
It's quite a long journey back to Kisumu from Sam Ouma's, REAP fieldworker who lives in Asembo close to Lake Victoria.
I was with George Matengo, a REAP fieldworker packed in the corner of a matatu with my feet on a sack of grain and a pungent smell of small fish radiating from under my seat somewhere. [Emma and I learnt recently that the word in Luo for fish is "rech" and cooped up in a hot matatu bumping along, made me realise why].
It was my first time to visit Sam's place where George and I stayed overnight on Thursday as George was helping Sam to construct a raised goat pen to keep dairy goats. George is a bit of a goat-lover and expert with award-winning goats and always asks people who keep goats if their goats are "saved"- have they accepted Jesus or not. I think it is related to the behaviour of the goats - if they are allowed to roam free and eat neighbours' crops or not.
It was incredible to see George and Sam's cousin Fred construct the goat pen from trees cut from right around Sam's garden. One of REAP's principles is to plant trees on the farm which are multipurpose which can be used for soil fertility or constuction. REAP is taking part in a big campaign just now to plant more trees in Kenya in an 'Easter Tree Planting' initiative. (anyway, that is by the by).
It was also a real treat to be staying in the deep country - the boondocks- where at night it is so dark (though still noisy with all the crickets and other creatures...I saw my first monitor lizard, for example). Sam keeps a wide variety of animals, cows, chickens, goats, cats, dogs and donkeys. The donkeys help carry water, and helping Sam carry two 50 gallon buckets of water up a steep hill for 1/2 a mile made me realise again the value of water. In drought periods, Sam was saying that they fetch water an hour and a half away at Lake Victoria!
At one point, Sam surprised me by jumping onto the foal of a donkey and yelling "I am like Jesus riding into Jerusalem". I don't think Jesus would have had as much trouble trying to control the donkey as Sam did as it scarpered away.
We were able to visit some of the farmers Sam works with around his area and learn what they are doing with REAP's ideas. I find it really fascinating to be able to get inside access to peoples' lives and realise the importance of farming and getting a good crop is. It is hard as a white Scottish guy to really understand the necessity of growing your own food, but I hope to somehow be able to empathise and be a part of making some sort of difference one day...