SMC and Member Organizations visit the Climate Resilience & Adaptability Livelihood [CRAL] Project site in Mwala, Machakos County
The Swahili have a saying: kilicho na mwanzo hakikosi mwisho. Translated into English it means that everything that has a beginning has an end. And so the Resilience Workshop that had been running at the Adventist University of Africa – the Adventist Hill for a full week was drawing to a close: and how else? But for a learning and leisure road-trip to Mwala, Machakos County!
It was such an honour for the Economic Project Transformational Facility [www.eptf.org] team to have been accorded the opportunity of hosting the SMC team and all the delegates from the SMC member organizations that were present.
With an envisaged busy schedule for the day, the group had to hit the road early morning. The tour bus picked the first group from Westlands at 6.00 am, the 2nd group from the CBD shortly after and the 3rd and final group from the Total/Airtel pickup point along Mombasa road at about 6.30 am before embarking on the 115 kilometres journey to Mwala.
Though it was a cold and rainy morning, the atmosphere in the bus was warm and friendly. Most of us making the best of the trip to learn one or so things about our companions, knowing very well that it will be quite a while before we meet again, if we ever would meet indeed: woe to you who sat isolated on a solo-seat!
The hosting team of Mary, Wakesho and Olive would occasionally interrupt the tête–à–tête – though in a pleasant way, to volunteer pieces of information about the sights and sounds to the visiting teams. The first tour stop coming up almost 1 hour 30 minutes later on in Masaku town: a moment to freshen up and get coffee/tea for the cold weather – except for Phil who had quickly acclimatized to the Kenyan ways by drinking cold sodas in the morning.
Energized by the coffee and assorted morning bites, Mrs Zivaya and the rest of the team could now listen to a brief on the pilot project from Olive. The brief, meant to offer insights into the project before the visiting team could meet the project participants in Mwala would consist of the envisaged project outcome, the target areas and groups, the proposed strategies and the identified agricultural value chains [AVCs]. The team was also introduced to the Theory of Change [ToC] guiding the intervention as it is being developed by EPTF. However, it is my feeling that the hills, valleys and the entire beautiful landscape might have been a fair distraction to the listeners,
Having made it safely to the Community Resource Farm [CRF], our first learning stop, it was pleasant to see how adaptive the entire team had been. I had been feeling sorry, albeit secretly, for Reem, Lisa, Hanna, Zivaya – okay, all the ladies, for dragging them to a farm visit on a cold and rainy morning, and without the appropriate farm-wear. I was surprised as to how well they actually handled it.
On the farm, we were received by Phyllis and Annecetta, the EPTF project team on the ground. After a brief introduction by Mary, Annecetta, the Agronomist and Project Coordinator, guided us through the tour of the farm – explaining the activities that were taking place and how the farm will be used to deliver practical skills transfer to the farmers.
The team would later proceed to AIC Kanyuuku, the local host church, for an engagement meeting with the community and the government representatives on the ground. The meeting, attended by two Assistant Chiefs from the project area, and some project participants would end up being very engaging and informative.
Pressed for time, we would thereafter make a brief stop at the World Vision regional offices at Makutano where a few of us were able to engage the World Vision team on the ground for about 30 minutes. Mr. Emmanuel Fondo, the Programs Manager – World Vision, shared briefly with us on the various projects being implemented by WV in Mwala. It was quite interesting to learn that there were many areas in which EPTF could synergize with WV, The Salvation Army and ICL Africa in serving the vulnerable communities in Machakos.
At the risk of missing out on our appointment with the County Commissioner of Machakos [CCM] and her team that was scheduled for 2.30 pm, the very understanding group unanimously agreed for us to swap our lunch time for the meeting with the CCM and her team of government officers. We drove straight from Makutano to the CCM offices in Machakos; a distance that takes one about 40 minutes to drive at normal speed. We found our hosting team in the boardroom waiting for us.
The meeting, themed around DRR was to be attended by all in our entourage – about 30 persons. I think the CCM didn’t expect such a large group to be visiting, and we had to do a lot of loving one another for us to fit in the boardroom.
With such a good representation from the government departments, Madam Matilda Waswa, the County Commissioner, Machakos County, did a superb job guiding the discourse. And it was rewarding for the visiting team, to learn of the various resources and initiatives by the government that we could plug in to improve the project outputs.
We finally made it to Hotel Kyaka [pronounced as Cha-ka by the natives], at about 5.30 pm, for our lunch or was it dinner: and this, after praying our way through a very muddy section of the road to the hotel. I had promised myself a very good excuse for not disembarking to give our bus a push through the mud if push came to a shove later on. Glad we didn’t have to. As for the meals at Kyaka and our return trip to Nairobi, kindly ask your new established network about it. And let them tell the story not a tale.
Till we meet again in the annals of history, it is me, your story teller who tells no tales: Adios amigo! Ciao!
Rev. Olive Branch