Finding hope and inspiration in a visit to Kenya

By Shauna Mellish

On January 20, 2023, my sixteen-year-old daughter Victoria and I departed for Kenya. We would be joining her aunt (Dr. Martha Mellish) and grandparents (Ken and Teresa Mellish) to work with the many projects funded by Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF).

What an incredible opportunity for three generations to travel and work together. More importantly was the opportunity for Victoria to see the impacts of the work that her grandmother has dedicated her life to.

In the first week, Victoria and I visited shambas (farms) with a focus on poultry, assisted with a donkey health and welfare clinic, as well as a cattle walk-in clinic. We helped with a bookkeeping training session, and spent a day at the Mitoone Primary School. Each took us to a different area of Meru County.

Each experience gave us new opportunities to talk, share, and learn from our Kenyan partners. Every encounter opened me to deeper reflection on luck, fair/unfair, faith, strength, and privilege.

As luck would have it, the first shamba we visited had a water tank my husband, Angus, and I had sponsored. Each year during the FHF Holiday Campaign, we make donations to fund items like water tanks – knowing, but not fully understanding the impacts.

At the shamba, I was embraced by Susan, the woman to whom it belonged. She told me of the difference this donation had made in her life and livelihood, especially when the rains do not come; it was humbling. Over the course of the week, we experienced the same scenario at two other shambas where we happened upon water tanks sponsored by Victoria and her sister, Evelynn.

FHF has just begun working in an area known as Nkando, partnering with women’s farm groups there. NKando has not received rain in 4 to 5 years.

As we drove through the area to our destination, I saw crop failure after crop failure – burned by the heat and lack of rain. I have worked in agriculture for more than 20 years, and I have never experienced anything close to this.

The reality here is no crop – no food, as well as no income in which to get food. I wrestled with the fairness (or lack thereof) of the situation – what keeps people going, not only physically but mentally? Is that why faith seems so apparent in these communities? Why am I so lucky to have easy access to food and water and this community does not? How do I use the privileges I’ve been lucky enough to receive to the benefit of the those who have such fierce strength, but limited opportunity?

I am grateful for the opportunity to work directly with the projects in Kenya; these projects are possible in part because of the donations FHF receives. When we return home, the work will continue with the support of our Kenyan staff. My role then will be to help ensure that the work of FHF can continue.

While I will take time to reflect on exactly what that might look like, I have no doubt that I will continue to use my good fortune to support the projects financially, and volunteer my time at events like the annual FHF BBQ, which are key to the continued success of FHF projects.

As we left Nkando, I noticed a beautiful array of pink flowers growing on some vines. Even in a harsh and unforgiving climate, there is strength and beauty.

Let us work together to help FHF assist these communities through projects that will allow them to reach their full potential.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s