Dear Andrius and All,
Hello and thanks so much for the exciting and content-rich emails on the "My Food Story" project! I have needed to be very focused on Global Learn Day, which is turning into a rather large event ("e"-vent, haha!), so apologies for not answering sooner about leading a team, or coordinating one at HH.
Below is a "food story" about KAIPPG, which forms part of my own story about what would be most helpful for me to work on, given the needs of those with whom I am partnered at the grassroots in rural areas of Kenya and beyond. I have many contacts in other parts of Africa in this regard too--which I could draw into our work here--and further afield, especially in India now.
Much of the food and/or agricultural production which happens in these rural communities (as I have knowledge of it, anyway) stays local or is distributed at the national level, but there are certainly some exports (tea, coffee, chocolate, flowers) happening already, hence a "chain" which can be identified and traced. It would be interesting to me to know if beans, maize, and sweet potatoes--all crops which KAIPPG clients grow--are exported at this time, or have the potential to be.
Right now, my challenge is "time", and the timing of this project as regards my own schedule. During October and November, I am preparing to donate my large folk-art collection for public and permanent display, and the museum to which it is going will be picking this up in early December. There is a lot involved in my own preps of the items ahead of time, and I have several major work-related projects going too, including for World AIDS Day on December 1st.
Therefore, it will not be easy for "me" to lead a project during the next few months, though I am happy to "host" and help to coordinate a team at HH, and perhaps take a more active role--if and as needed--starting in Feb 2007. I see that you (Andrius) have mentioned something to Samwel abt working with Shannon: Sam would be one of those who I consider to be a "natural" choice for a team leader or field agent at HH, so a review of other choices might need to be made.
I am thinking that Kennedy and I might work together on this, because it relates to our GRASSUP partnership. I am also thinking abt Benter Oballa--who has an agricultural background and focus--and Actwid Kongadzem in Cameroon, as they have a strong nutrition and agriculture focus. One of their specialties is "artemisia", which is used for a variety of nutrition and medicinal purposes, including (on the latter score) easing symptoms of malaria and HIV/AIDS.
Of some pertinence may be this linkage: KAIPPG has a partnership with a Kenyan "tea" business in Oakland, CA, USA, so that would be one possible focus of interest for my/our (at HH) "Food Story" participation. This company buys tea from smallhold farmers in Kenya (in particular because of a focus they have on sustainable development); tin fact, the company was started by a Kenyan who now lives here, but wanting to make a difference back home.
They package and sell the tea in the USA, giving some of the proceeds to KAIPPG, for a fund we have jointly established which gives small grants to people who are considering the adoption of HIV/AIDS orphans. Oftentimes, it is only because prospective parents lack the $200 for school fees per year that orphans do not get adopted, so this fund aims to fill that gap, making local adoptions easier. For more on this business, called Zawadi African Tea (http://www.zawadiafricantea.com.
"Chocolate" is also a big business in Kenya--as has been mentioned--as is "coffee", and "farmed flowers". As the article below indicates, there is much agricultural activity revolving around "sweet potatoes", as well as "beans" and "maize". So there are a number of choices, and perhaps in HH we could discuss which one has the most resonance and familiarity for our members, and focus on that. "Artemisia", for the reasons mentioned above, is also a compelling focus.
I would like to see the integration and/or intersection of various topics in this investigation: sustainable development, ICTs, specific crops, nutrition as well as an agricultural focus, food chain (ie from grower to table), health and HIV/AIDS, poverty alleviation and income-generation. The arts and creativity would, for me, be an exciting part of this focus (ie how arts are being used, or could be used, to communicate abt these topics, how arts and/or creativity could be used to package products or think about new directions in exploring these subjects, how they could be used for "infectious good").
So, where does this lead, and/or what are next steps? Let me enumerate a few:
1) I/we need to figure out how HH can be involved, who will lead a team, how I will be involved--and when.
2) What food(s)/crop(s) we would want to focus on, and what other issues are connected to same.
3) Timeframe (see above)
4) Money/community currency issues/concerns: I do have some of these, which I may explore a bit in a "My Money Story" format at Cyfranogi (I have not had a chance yet to write that up...my responses there were about the "power of story" generally). I have some discomfort with the way the money aspect is being set up, who will benefit and how this will be decided and distributed. Some of that discomfort or questioning relates to introducing money into the mix at all; some of it to the "logistics" of its disbursement.
I have some of these concerns specifically because of what happened with the chocolate project in this regard, an experience which--despite its many positive aspects-- left questions for me regarding the effects of introducing money (and "competition") into our mutual work, especially as regards trust, teamwork, camaraderie, cooperation. The need for money, esp. at the grassroots in developing countries, is also quite clear; and even I have trouble finding web help, for example as I cannot pay someone to help me on a regular basis. So I'm not opposed to "money" per se...it's more the way it is introduced and used.
In any case, the particulars and specifics of the questions, concerns, and considerations above can be addressed as we go along. For now the primary question is: "how can Holistic Helping be involved, and if we do lead a team in this forum, who will do that and who will it be composed of?"
I look forward to addressing this during the next few weeks, and greatest thanks to Greg, Andrius, OVF, Steve, Dante, Sam, and all who are thinking, dreaming, planning, and working in such valuable ways. I'm humming "Food (Story), Glorious Food (Story)" even as we speak, and I will definitely want to ask for more, haha! All best wishes and blessings, Janet
Kenya: The health and agriculture community radio network of KAIPPG (www.kaippg.org
AIDS remains a major problem in Kenya, and it is often women and girls who bear the brunt of the pandemic. They have no rights to own property such as land, and are physiologically at greater risk of catching HIV/AIDS. They are generally less well educated and only a handful are employed, and so are socio-economically more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection. Many women also suffer from malnutrition.
To help address these problems, the Kenya AIDS Intervention Prevention Project Group (KAIPPG) has established community-based informal learning centres, called nutritional field schools, in six of its 28 project sites in western Kenya.
Each field school caters to 30 participants, giving priority to orphans, widows, low-income women and older vulnerable children from HIV/AIDS affected households. The participants are taught about nutrition, and receive training in relevant skills and techniques to enable them to care for people living with AIDS, to maximize crop yields and generally to become economically and socially empowered.
Using the GenARDIS grant, KAIPPG organized a health and agriculture community radio network for women who had completed the training. The participants were organized into six radio listening groups, and were trained in the use of audio and video recording equipment to enable them to exchange information such as on farming techniques, and to raise public awareness about HIV/AIDS. The groups were also trained in photography and the use of drama and traditional oral storytelling as tools for learning, education and development.
A radio cassette player and a mobile phone was distributed to each of the groups, and the participants were encouraged to communicate with national FM radio stations, to respond to programmes, obtain information, and share their experiences with a wider audience. Each group prepared and recorded on tape a presentation, song, poem, role-play or story on a relevant topic of their choice.
One women's group, for example, performed a play about farming and the preparation of nutritious food for people living with HIV/AIDS. Another group sang traditional songs on planting, harvesting and the preparation of sweet potatoes. The tapes were then exchanged among the groups so that each group was able to learn about the work of the others. Each group also set up an information kiosk stocked with the tapes they had produced and other information.
KAIPPG hopes to translate the tapes into English and French, and to release the content also on diskettes and CD-ROM.