Sunday was a good day starting with church, then finishing packing and leaving for the airport around 4:00 PM for a 6:30 flight to
We had dinner with a very well informed gentleman from British Seafood, and we were able to begin to understand the markets of
It is always interesting arriving in
The day was spent as usual catching up on the details of the last six weeks since being here. The farm is still struggling financially but there is a light at the end of the tunnel which is getting brighter by the day. The fish program is progressing well. The green water ponds are stocked with over 300,000 fish and the main ponds are under construction. We are certainly pleased to finally see this underway. The youth have a huge batch of tomatoes in the ground, the cows for the dairy are arriving and the sheep are grazing the land in the banana plantation. Bananas will be maturing very soon with the first harvest coming in May of this year.
Thursday was spent planning with Steve while Barbara worked with Chris on matters for the Youth. Our first group of trainees has graduated and we have now hired several to gain work experience and be prepared to teach others soon to come. For me, the day was dominated by a visit from the Minister of Fisheries and his staff. They came to learn about fish farming and reinforce a relationship with Dominion for the National aquaculture policy and support basis. They are committed to purchasing 500,000 fish fry each month from us to support the program and for the training of so many uneducated but anxious fish farmers to be. They learned a lot and now understand the program does not work without our supply of fish fry and technology on a large scale project. We are eager to be part of the program, and all are pressing for an early start on the project.
Friday we were honored to have 15 of the orphans which Dominion Children’s Foundation supports come to the farm for the day. Not one of these kids has a parent living; most have been wiped out by the HIV/AIDS scourge on this land. The youngest is 12 and he has very poor language skills, but they are being worked on. The oldest is 17, and like the rest, very small for their ages. Poor nutrition and disease have played havoc in the lives of these and so many others in the area. They had a great meal and toured the farm for hours with their eyes wide enough to pop out of their heads. They left with a greater understanding that they were part of the Dominion family of support.
Saturday was an early day for Barbara as she went to work in the Fish breeding program, while Steve and I worked on details of the out-grower programs. This looks as if it is going to be a real success, including many people in the community. We have around 250 small scale farmers signed up for the crop program and 50 signed up for the aquaculture outgrower program as well. Dominion will provide the technology, and be the market for the products. We have arranged for a few bank loans for some participants for working capital for their portion of the work, but more funding is required from outside sources to fully utilize the resources of these people. In the afternoon I went to Siaya for a break and bought an ice cream cone before going to the fish farm construction project. The main big ponds are now under construction and scheduled for receiving fish in January. Combining of the fields is continuing and initial yields are good.
Sunday morning Dirk and Johann from Spiegel News Network in
Since we are all out of living space, the news crew had to stay at a small hotel about 25 KM away. One evening while taking them there I met up with Barry, a young man from
Barry and I hit it off well. He is a member of a black church of formerly poverty stricken people in
Barry’s church was asked to come to a community in
Wednesday morning we had a staff meeting with the senior managers of the various departments from the farm. This place is a tough place to live, isolated from the world, and it wears on people. Frustration levels easily exceed what a man can take and we all need to work together, sharing scarce equipment, and looking out for each other. Feathers are easily ruffled and tempers can often flare, but we are all setting examples of what must be accomplished to change this land of desperate people. We will all try harder.
The fish farm construction is progressing well with 12 green water ponds complete and 300,000 fish in half of them. The main grow-out ponds are now being built and four should be operational by February 1, 2010. The fields are harvesting well with yields similar to those of farms in the
Friday morning we met with our rice distributor for the area around the farm in Siaya. We are about ready to expand our distribution into
Friday afternoon we had a Christmas dinner for our staff at the same little hotel and the food was good, but our time was short. We had a hasty trip back to the farm and then on to Kisumu to catch the last plane into Nairobi and our last meeting of the day just before boarding for Amsterdam. As I stepped off the plane in
Currently we are three hours out of
May God bless the People of Kenya!