Chickens for Education

farm rows in kitale kenya

Rows of crops on the Common Ground "Feed the Village" farm

The view out the window of the minibus from Eldoret to Kitale, Kenya was surprisingly familiar. Though I was on a continent well known for its deserts, the rows and rows of corn made the Kenyan countryside look just like the rolling hills of Iowa or South Dakota! I now know that Kitale is the “breadbasket of Kenya.”

During our visit with Joshua Machinga of Commmon Ground just outside Kitale, Boyd and I were impressed with the abundant produce on his farm and kitchen gardens. Machinga uses bio-intensive agriculture techniques, which he learned at Manor House Kenya, to produce more food without chemical inputs. All the produce here goes to feed the 400 students at Pathfinder Academy, where Machinga is the director.

Spirit in Action Poultry Project

Next to the Pathfinder kitchen garden stands the impressive SIA Poultry Project – a sturdy building close enough to the kale and maize beds to provide the chickens with some greens and the garden with some chicken manure. Now that’s a great exchange!

Tanya with the SIA Poultry Project

SIA Poultry Project house made with sturdy materials and built to last many years. Maize in training garden grows in front. Chicken droppings are used for compost in the garden.

Student with fresh eggs

Students are assigned a rotating schedule to check for eggs. The chicken coop is right next to the school and cafeteria area.

As we entered the poultry house, five Pathfinder students proudly showed us around the two rooms, one for the layers (chickens for eggs) and another for the broilers (chicken for meat). Machinga has conducted several trainings with students on how to manage the chicks and student volunteers take turns caring for the chickens, feeding them, helping the vet with vaccinations, collecting eggs, and even slaughtering them when the time comes. He told us that the younger children like to care for the young chicks and keep them warm during their first nights.

Project Success

Some of the eggs are used in school meals, some are sold to local families, and most of the meat is sold to a local restaurant! After the initial Spirit in Action Community Grant, the Common Ground SIA Poultry Project is now self-sustaining, with profits from the chickens being put into buying more chicks to expand the operation.

What else? A scholarship fund has been created with some of the poultry project profits! The student with the best 2010 exam scores got a scholarship for this year’s school fees as he graduated from Pathfinder and went on to secondary school. “His favorite subject is history,” Machinga told us, which brought a nod of approval from Boyd.

Man takes eggs to market on the back of a bike.

Fresh eggs for sale! A Common Ground employee takes eggs to market on the back of his bike.

What’s making me happy this week: SIA supports education through the economic empowerment of our amazing community partners!

Tanya and student volunteers at SIA poultry project house.

Tanya and student volunteers at SIA poultry project house.

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8 Responses to “Chickens for Education”

  1. Boyd November 29, 2011 4:38 pm
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    Great post Tanya. And I do approve of history!

  2. Donna Thomas November 29, 2011 5:11 pm
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    My favorite part is the eggs on the back of the bike!

  3. admin November 29, 2011 5:23 pm
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    Isn’t that a great photo! We saw lots of eggs (and chickens!) strapped to the back of bikes in Kenya! ~Tanya

  4. Dennis Johnson November 29, 2011 9:22 pm
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    I’m impressed with the Spirit in Action sign on the poultry house!
    Dennis

  5. Kathleen November 29, 2011 10:23 pm
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    wow, school meals, families and restaurants… they include so many people in the community!

  6. admin November 30, 2011 9:47 am
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    Kathleen: Thanks for the comment! I was really impressed by how well the program was integrated into the community. Another USA non-profit has helped Joshua build a solar power station and he provides access to that power for free to neighbors. ~Tanya

  7. marsha johnson November 30, 2011 4:31 pm
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    Thanks for sharing so beautifully, Tanya, with the photos, text and interplay between the chicken farm and so many other elements. The garden and chickens feed the students. The students care for the chickens. The chicken manure feeds the garden. The profits feed education which keeps such wondrous processes continuing! Hallelujah!!

  8. Shirley December 2, 2011 6:49 pm
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    “Spirit in Action Poultry Project” is a story the world needs to hear. I can only imagine the lives that will be touched from this project. It is like a gift that keeps on giving. I love how the smaller children care for the small chicks. Teaching good stewardship early on!

    I second the previous post by Marsha!

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