News Features

Kansas to Kenya Project Reaches Out

K-State Engagement E-News, Fall 2008 Special Edition (PDF)

by Jenny Barnes

Young woman sewing in Kenya. The Kansas to Kenya particpants taught mothers of disabled children to sew in order to generate an income.

Young woman sewing in Kenya. The Kansas to Kenya particpants taught mothers of disabled children to sew in order to generate an income.

Located about 30 miles northwest of Nairobi, Kenya, on the infamous "AIDS Highway," Maai Mahiu is one of the poorest HIV-infected towns in Kenya. About 60 percent of the town’s 30,000 people are HIV positive.

From May 31-June 14, William Hargrove, Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment, led a team of ten agriculture experts and extension agents to Africa. Kansas to Kenya, as the team was called, collaborated with an international NGO, Comfort the Children, and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and worked on five projects.

"This trip was a powerful experience," Hargrove said. "I was impressed with what our team was able to accomplish in such a short amount of time."

The first project was the Shosho Shamba, or "Grandmother's Garden." This project developed a community garden designed to meet the nutritional demands of households where a grandmother was raising children orphaned because of HIV/AIDS.

The second project was Nutrition Improvement. The team worked with local health workers to develop shopping lists and menus for HIV positive individuals and families with disabled children.

A third project dealt with small business development. The team taught mothers of disabled children to sew so they were able to make things such as reusable shopping bags and generate income. Hargrove said this was an incredible lifestyle change for the women and the project is ongoing.

The Kansas to Kenya team also developed a hands-on environmental curriculum for children.

The final project was the Good Shepherd Children's Home. Team members conducted health assessments and documentation for the children in the home. They assessed their diets and developed a plan for improved nutrition. They also developed plans to improve production and value from the children's home garden.

Hargrove said he hopes to continue work with Kansas to Kenya. The team stays in contact with a community liaison from Comfort the Children and is working to raise funds for a future trip.