I’ll be honest, when I think of Africa, I think desert, famine, elephant poachers and war. Certainly these are not feel good things. My vision of Africa has been shaped by the nightly news and infomercials asking for donations amounting in no more than the price of a cup of coffee to save children.
In my life to date I have never sat down and talked to someone that was here after living in Africa. Only a handful of people I have ever met have even visited Africa and those that have were pretty much there on safaris designed for tourists. Until May I was disconnected by distance and honestly, interest from Africa.
In May I sat in a room alongside 3,000 people and I heard Lopez Lomong tell his story at the opening session of the 2014 Alltech Symposium. The theme of this year’s meeting was ‘What If?’ and beyond hearing Lopez tell his story, I was exposed to a new way of thinking about Africa. Instead of just thinking about all the problems in Africa, I was introduced to the idea of all of the potential in Africa. I left thinking “What if the answer to global hunger is Africa?
Did you know?
- 65% of Africa’s workforce works in Agriculture.
- Only 6% of land in Africa is under irrigation.
- 50% of the people in Africa are under 25 years old.
- Women in Africa produce 80% of the food but only receive 10% of credit.
- Africa is huge!
View the Alltech Symposium presentations on Africa by clicking HERE.
After leaving Alltech Symposium, I certainly had a new outlook on Africa, I now saw potential instead of just problems. I had the desire to help but I still wasn’t sure what I could do. It was floating around in the back of my mind when I got a message from Rowan Childs. She and I met almost a year ago at a Social Media Breakfast Club get together that I spoke at. She is the founder of Madison Reading Project, an idea created to combat Wisconsin’s status as the state with the highest rates of illiteracy among low income children.
What does this have to do with Africa?
Rowan was reaching out to me about a project she created. A project combining childhood literacy, humanitarianism and cows. Obviously, I was in.
In Rowan’s words “We (Madison Reading Project) enrich Salvation Army’s afterschool and summer camp with reading, geography, and other activities that focus on purposeful reading and learning more about their partnered school and village in Tanzania.”
So how does teaching kids at the Salvation Army summer camp how to read help African farmers? Rowan says, “Our sister nonprofit AfricaBridge.org runs sustainable programming in Tanzania for rural communities including many agricultural co-op’s. Cows, pigs and chickens are the biggest animal programs. They learn how to take care of the animals, proper techniques, programs and education. The cow raises them out of poverty and malnutrition. By having milk for their families and then excess milk to sell they go from lack of food, lack of money, lack of bedding, electricity, Etc. The family and then the community thrives through having these programs. You can go to their website –specifically the blog to see some great stories, pictures about these programs: www.madisonreadingproject.com“
This summer the kids involved in the Madison Reading Project at the Salvation Army Summer Camp have not only improved their reading skills, they have learned about agriculture and cows. Perhaps most importantly, despite being from low income homes themselves, the kids have been empowered to help others. They have been raising money by reading and that money will buy cows for farmers in Africa. That’s pretty awesome and something I think we can all get behind.
Each cow costs around $500. So far the kids have raised almost enough to donate 2 cows. A donor has stepped up to match funds and I think that we can join together and help them not just meet their goal but smash it out of the park. Let’s help these kids head back to school knowing that they exceeded their goals and have really made a difference in someone else’s life.
Visit this link to learn more about the project and donate.
Hi, Carrie, as a fellow dairywoman, I follow and enjoy your blog and your FB feed. We are retired now but I enjoy your writing and your stories of life on the farm. The reason this story causes me to comment is that my daughter and her husband lived in Nairobi, Kenya for 3 years, 2005-8. We visited there and saw the poverty. We also witnessed the women biking their milk to the plant every morning and night. My daughter and her husband adopted a boy from an orphanage, the Nest, in Limuru. This orphanage is run by a German woman of great compassion. They are making strides to become self-sustaining through raising their own vegetables and livestock. Cathy also taught English at a fledgling high school in a slum of Nairobi, where they have milk cows and gardens as well. Through these connections, she and her husband started a non-profit organization here in the states, Saba, International, to support these and other organizations that work to educate the children making it possible for them to break the cycle of poverty. Being self-sustaining is a huge part of that formula. Our newest organization in the Saba family is Bethel School in the huge slum of Kibera in Nairobi. I invite you to read more at https://www.sabainternational.org/. Keep up the good work, both on the farm and in your quest for education yourself!
Hi Carrie, I am an African from Kenya and also an upcoming small scale dairy farmer. Your articles are very inspiring.
On the part of Africa, there is so much that the media does not report out there in the world.
Africa’s untapped potential is so huge. Unlike the western world, we are slowly learning the ways of doing things the proper way.
Let me share with you my small dairy farm experience in the Kenya.
I have a herd of 19 and milking 7 of them( 6 are in calf heifers and the rest, weaned calves). There is no machinery involved in our farm, we milk by hand, transport the milk by a motorcycle to the nearest town where we sell milk, our manure which we manually push out of the dairy unit with a shovel twice a day runs directly to the fields due to lack of hauling equipment and we basically transport all our fodder from the field by hand carts, wheel barrows and even donkey pulled carts.
My future farm’s dream is to be able to keep at least 400 heads of Holstein Frisians but all that will take years to come. As you may have noted, we have a direction of where we want to go but the impeding factor is the lack of resources to aid our progress.
And yes, our small fields where we plant dairy fodder are never irrigated all year round unlike most of your western farms as the climate is conducive all year round.
Welcome to Africa and experience the lovely continent we have. There’s lots of untapped potential but we require your advanced technology and the know how that farmers in the western world already have at your disposal.
I look forward to welcoming some of you who may be interested in touring Africa and specifically Kenya, not just for “Safaris” as a tourist but to have a real encounter with a very small humble dairy farmer in Africa.