Excellent's former Individual Giving Manager, Chloe Waite, reflects on visiting Kenya and the flourishing farm that belongs to Theresa and her baby Precious.

When we arrive at Theresa’s farm, the air is fresh and the ground is covered with dolichos, and tall, green pigeon pea crops. Theresa is here to meet us, with her youngest child Precious in a carry sling at her side. She has just finished harvesting her cowpeas and green grams; wispy remnants of the harvest lie scattered on a patch of ground.

Our partner organisation, the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), has brought us here to show us Theresa’s farm. Theresa, a Kenyan farmer from the Kikai self-help group, southeast KenyaTheresa has been working with ASDF since the end of 2011, when her community came together to build three sand dams.

"The farm looks like a small forest. It feels nice, sitting under the trees and breathing that fresh air. To me, that is very important."

Theresa, a Kenyan farmer from the Kikai self-help group, southeast Kenya.

Before the sand dams, collecting water would take up almost all of her time. With a 6km walk to the nearest water point and a wait of one or two hours, Theresa’s entire life was restricted by the stranglehold of water scarcity.

Since then, and with ASDF’s support, she has made many changes to her farm – digging terraces to reduce soil erosion and retain water in her fields, planting trees to provide ground cover and shade, and planting a wider variety of drought-tolerant crops.

The techniques she has learnt have made a huge difference to the productivity of her farm. Before she would only plant three acres but now she plants six and a half acres. It’s a lot of work, but the results are worth it.

She takes us to see her harvest of cowpeas and green grams, all neatly packed in 90kg storage bags. This grain is currency to Theresa – selling it at market will enable her to raise enough money to pay for her three children to get an education. Like all parents, she wants to give them the opportunity for a better future.

When we ask Theresa about how she feels looking at her transformed farm she says, “The farm looks like a small forest. It feels nice, sitting under the trees and breathing that fresh air. To me, that is very important.”

Without the time that Theresa has saved from the long, hard walks to collect water, she simply would not have been able to invest so much time in planting her farm, and her life would be very different.

Now she can provide her children with a healthy diet, an education and a clean, fresh environment to grow up in; the future of Theresa and her family is looking much brighter.

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