Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jamii Bora Field Trip

We arrived in Nyeri after a three hour journey from Nairobi. The branch team and clients met us singing as they did last time. It was like a homecoming for me to see so many of the same people and I was shocked by some of their comments.
Both the men and women remembered my visit last August and I was touched by their comments. One of the farmers was telling his story and he said that he now uses “organic” fertilizer for his crops because of the comments I made on the last trip about how harmful the chemicals were to him, his family, livestock and the crops. He also said he could get more money for it and it is paying off for him and he is telling other farmers to do the same. I was shocked and very pleased that I had this kind of impact on their practices.
Another women in a beautiful red dress remembered that when I came she just started with her first loan and considered herself poor. Now she has a 20,000 shilling loan and has a shop and wanted me to see how much better off she is now.
We were then invited to visit two farms and it was an amazing experience. It was just like Rwanda where they were so honored you came to their home to meet their family and to see their farm. They also had to provide refreshments and during the course of the day ate lots of bananas, sweet potatoes and arrowroot.

This farmer (who has a degree in thelogy) was showing how he grafted different types of coffee plants to be more resilient. He pointed out his composting and manure systems to fertilize the crops and it was rudimentary but very impressive.
A woman farmer had just bought a water pump to help irrigate her fields and was waiting to install it next week. Here daughters performed a poem for us after we visited her fields.

We traveled to the Kagumo branch where we met more clients and visited another larger farm of a member who farmed as well as had the welding shop in town. This group was the most lively and entertaining as well as successful. There were three generations on the farm with the grandmother, daughter and baby. The contagious happiness and joy of this family and their friends was another highlight of the trip.

Our last stop for the day at 6:30 in the dusk was a new member who was a widow. We saw the lack of repair on her farm but with her first loan she was buying a cow to help her with organic materials to use a fertilizer and to sell the milk.

We saw many different types of clients who have been touched by Jamii Bora and there is so much more to they can do by adding banks in more communities.

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