A key to moving from a subsistence farmer, to one who can provide for family and have crops to sell and realize income, is learning new techniques that produce greater yields.  P4P’s farmer training program does just that and is seeing amazing results.

The program, called “Farming God’s Way”, (FGW) provides training and support for 20 farmers at a time. Participants are many different ages and situations. Some are couples, like the Masagas, others are single fathers, mothers or widowed older women. All one needs is a desire to learn and work hard.  The program teaches sustainable farming methods and includes key components such as proper land preparation, planting techniques, crop rotation, and mulching to preserve rainfall and add nutrients to the soil.

The program involves both classroom and hands-on training. The farmers must commit to the training program and have a portion of their farm plots available to use the new techniques, expanding more each year. As part of the program, each farmer is provided fertilizer and seed to get started.  Once the crops are harvested, each farmer returns some maize (corn) to P4P, which is then used in the P4P Power of Milk program.

As part of the program, P4P has a demonstration plot, where farmers can see the techniques in action. The results from the FGW methods are apparent, with significantly improved yields that increase every crop cycle. Farmers who are not enrolled see the improvement in the crops and have been asking to join FGW.  At this point, P4P is only able to enroll 20 farmers; we would like to expand the program as funding becomes available.

While in Kenya in February, Stacey and Sandy visited several farmers including Francis who was in the first group of FGW farmers.  He is now a lead farmer often sharing his knowledge with other farmers.  Sandy commented “It is so exciting to see neighbors helping neighbors.  It was remarkable to see how much healthier FGW maize plots were in comparison to conventional farmers.”

There was excitement all around as Stacey and Sandy met with five of P4P’s newest scholarship students and their parents on Day Two of their recent trip to Kenya.

Like youngsters everywhere the new students have dreams! One girl wants to be a doctor, another a teacher, another a lawyer and another young man also wants to be a doctor.

With their parents, they read the P4P code of conduct and signed the P4P contract. It was amazing to have Rose, a P4P scholarship recipient who graduated from college and is now a P4P intern, encourage the students to work hard, have dreams and to be disciplined.

Why does P4P provide scholarships? Because unfortunately, education in Kenya is not free after primary school. To go on to middle school and high school youngsters and their families must pay for fees, uniforms and more. If they live in a rural area, most must attend boarding school and pay for those room and board costs as well.

It’s expensive, so for many youngsters, education beyond primary school is out of reach, and their dreams might be as well.

P4P assists by providing scholarships for students who would otherwise not be able to attend school. Our Education Committee in Kenya, composed of the headmasters of the primary schools, reviews applications and makes recommendations on the students who should receive a scholarship. Once they are selected for a scholarship, the students and their parents are then asked to agree to P4P’s Code of Conduct. This straightforward document spells out expectations around maintaining attendance, being honest and truthful, demonstrating respect and following school rules, and maintaining good grades. The students and their parents sign they will abide by the Code of Conduct.

P4P provides 20 secondary school scholarships annually, plus an additional 7 for university students. Your support of P4P makes this possible!  Thank you!

Day One of Stacey and Sandy’s visit to Kenya included a meeting with the area’s new Sub County, Minister of Health, Samuel Oketch, along with several of department heads. His refreshing message was one of cooperation, sharing information, and building strong relationships to improve the health of the community.

Mr. Oketch shared great news about the P4P POM program. We are excited to learn that the Ministry of Health is so impressed by P4P’s POM program, they would like to implement it in other regions.

In addition, Mr. Oketch plans to have a nutritionist come monthly to the P4P Power of Milk (POM) meetings and hopes to have the resources to provide a continuing supply of Plumpy Nut/flour for the POM babies. Plumpy Nut is a very nutritious food supplement that P4P provides POM babies weekly.

Mr. Oketch proposed P4P can help efforts by supporting trainings for Community Health Volunteers and helping with childhood immunization outreach. As a welcome and thank you to P4P, Stacey and Sandy were each presented with a typical Masai Mara blanket.

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Sandy and Stacey met with the Primary Education Headmasters of the Kopanga and Giribe Schools. This group of headmasters makes up the local Kenyan Education Committee that makes recommendations to the P4P Education Committee to determine which students should receive P4P Education scholarships. Five of the six headmasters were able to attend the meeting and shared a lot of interesting information.

We learned that changes are happening in the Kenya school system with big impacts.

The Kenyan government is implementing a “Comprehensive Base Curriculum” (CBC), and it was the center of discussion at the P4P meeting with the headmasters.

The national government has adopted a plan that requires significant changes. The changes will provide additional funds, but requires not only additional infrastructure, but also requires teachers to have higher teaching credentials. The requirements exceed what is available at their schools, so the headmasters were dealing with something of a catastrophe in their schools at the time of our visit.

The day of the meeting happened to be the first day of school for students who are entering 7th grade. But, because the schools did not have the required teachers, books and buildings, there was nowhere for the youngsters to go.

In addition, there is some confusion around new tuition and fees. P4P will continue to monitor the rollout of the new program, and how it impacts P4P scholarship students. In the meantime, headmasters expressed their gratitude for the P4P scholarships that allow so many youngsters to continue their education.

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The community of Nyanganira had a pump first installed in 1993 through a Kenyan government program. Unfortunately, there was no foresight into managing repairs. So, by 2015 they did still have the pump – but it didn’t’ work because of broken rods.

So at that time, P4P was approached by the Nyanganira community to repair the pump by replacing 2-rod cylinders. P4P funding fixed the pump’s two broken rods, and voila! Clean water again!

Now, it’s 8 years later . . . what did Sandy and Stacey find on their return to Nyanganira?

Yes! The Nyanganira pump is still up and running!

But, another amazing thing happened 8 years ago after P4P fixed the pump. Instead of just waiting for the pump to break again, the community members banded together, forming a water committee that manages the pump.

The community water committee collects a small fee of 30 ksh (3 cents US) per month which will be used for future repairs. Any community member may join, but if you are not a member you can still use the pump for a daily fee of 50ksh (about 5 cents US). This is very helpful during times of drought as the pump consistently provides clean water for the entire community and sometimes even villagers from nearby Tanzania.

One slight problem remains. Currently, every two years they must replace a rubber component that erodes. The solution is to replace the existing rods with 2 stainless steel rods which minimizes erosion.

The community would like P4P is assist with the funding of these rods and they are submitting a proposal . Ideally, as with most P4P projects, it will be a partnership with P4P paying a portion and the community will pay a portion.

It will be another P4P project that will help ensure hundreds of villagers access clean, potable water for their families each day.

It was inspiring to work with a community that recognizes not only the value of clean water but also believe in community led solutions to the management of the water pump.

Challenges still remain. Sandy and Stacey also visited the Kopanga Springs water project in which P4P created a water protection area.

In this project, there is a pipe running from a spring-fed water source leading to the water collection area. Sadly on their visit, Sandy and Stacey learned that about a year ago there crack in the pipe resulting in a blockage of the pipe. Unlike the Nyanganira project there is no water committee to ensure maintenance and collection of fees for repair, so the project has been sitting idle.

We are extremely disappointed but plan for our P4P Kenyan staff to meet with the community members to develop new strategies for the Kopanga Springs water project. We strongly believe there needs to s a local water committee that takes ownership to ensure long-term success.

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