Largest group returns from successful trip to Kenya

Largest group of Farmers Helping Farmers volunteers returns from Kenya

Farmers Helping Farmers is celebrating another successful trip to Kenya – handing out mosquito nets at schools, working with women’s groups and educating farmers. This time, more than 20 volunteers travelled from P.E.I. to Kenya – the largest delegation since the first group traveled to Africa more than three decades ago.

The group included nurses, FHF members and four volunteers who are part of a new project with Veterinarians Without Borders-Canada.

Nursing students from UPEI and retired nurse Nancy MacFadyen handed out almost 2,000 nets over the 3 weeks they are in Kenya.  Prince Edward Islanders have already contributed more than $6,000 towards the nets, with a fundraising campaign underway now to pay for the rest, including a Mother’s Day campaign for Mosquito Nets.

Farmers Helping Farmers volunteers also visited schools, women’s groups and dairy groups that are partners with the P.E.I. organization.

Reg MacDonald travelled to Kenya with Farmers Helping Farmers to teach book keeping to farmers, including members of the Upendo women’s group. MacDonald is a retired pig farmer and a member of the FHF board. The meeting with the Upendo women’s group was a great success, with 39 of 40 members in attendance.

Barry and Ellen Cudmore were part of the delegation, their first trip to Kenya since the original group travelled there 35 years ago.  The Cudmores say they were excited to see in person the work that Farmers Helping Farmers has done over three decades.  Barry spent hours visiting all of the FHF twinned schools, working on much-needed repairs to water tanks and hand-washing stations.

FHF members also started work with several new women’s groups and visited groups where the women have already received water tanks and drip irrigation. The farms with the new irrigation systems had dramatically better crops than before the water system was installed.

Volunteers met with several dairy groups, offering support to the dairy and to individual members.

The Farmers Helping Farmers volunteers took part in the opening of another school cookhouse funded by the Souris Village Feast. It’s located at Kiirua Primary School, which is twinned with the school in Souris.  At the celebration, FHF coordinator Teresa Mellish unveiled a water tank donated in her honour.

The group also distributed letters from Island twinned schools to 17 Kenyan schools.

The trip marked the first partnership between Farmers Helping Farmers and Veterinarians Without Borders-Canada.

Dr. John Van Leeuwen, a veterinary professor at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, was instrumental in developing the new volunteer project. He's one of the founders and currently the chair of VWB Canada. He has travelled to Kenya almost 20 times through projects sponsored by the University of Prince Edward Island, Farmers Helping Farmers and Vets Without Borders Canada.

The volunteers included Lynn Townshend of Rollo Bay, who taught bookkeeping, horticulturist Liz Dacombe, dairy management specialist Dr. Shauna Richards and veterinarian Dr. Bill Hazen.

Van Leeuwen was also part of the group, along with three of his 4th year vet students.

In total, there will be more than 32 volunteers traveling to Kenya in 2016 through Farmers Helping Farmers, including pre-service teachers, nutrition specialists and students from UPEI, as well as more vet students.

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