A Day of Learning and Understanding
By Ivor Singer
This trip is truly amazing. Today most of the team went to Trinity United Methodist Church where we were greeted by over 120 Panua youth. They saw first hand the miracles of that Panua offers these precious youth, ranging in age from 17-22. Many of these Panua youth are orphaned and vulnerable children, heads of household with very little formal education or job skill knowledge. Our Panua program offers a chance for hope through grief and trauma counseling, spiritual growth, life skills training, and job training coordination. The youth shared stories with the team, and there were tears and laughter. It was truly a soulful day for the members of the session and a connection of relationships that God brought together to help one another.
While this was happening, Dr. Michael Read (an agronomist on the team) , Patrick Ndonga (Panua’s Business Program Manager) and I went to learn about maze seed varieties, fertilizers and options before planting on the 5 acre farm. Dr. Read’s knowledge and assistance is invaluable. Our goals were to develop a strategy that would yield the most productive amounts of maize as possible. At the Naivasha feed tore we met with an expert who explained some of the options of seeds and pesticides. There is a worm infestation where moths fly at night 300-400 meters, lay eggs and the worm invades the stalk of the corn. Through Dr. Read’s research a mix of wood ash and dried ground up chili peppers sprinkled on each stalk of corn allows for significant resistance to the worm and is a more natural pesticide.
After the farm store visit, we went to the only maze research center in Kenya that tests hybrid seeds, watering options and pesticides. Through this data, the seed manufacturers can develop best practices.
In the afternoon, a panel from our team and the Kenyan Panua board judged the group business activities presented by three members of each of Panua’s 10 youth groups. Group business activities help each youth group to bond and also provide income to help the individuals start their businesses and loan to one another. Each group had 8 minutes to present and then 2 minutes of questions and answers. Businesses were primarily farming, thought there were 3 groups producing detergent and 1 with sheep. The 1st place group received Ksh 20,000 ($200), 2nd place received Ksh 15,000 ($150) and 3rd place received Ksh 10,000 ($100). The other participants received Ksh 5,000 ($50). Funds are to be deposited directly into the group bank accounts to boost the business according to the business plan they wrote. Each presentation was filled with information on marketing, financial and activity planning and how they would spend the winnings. Several groups brought samples of their products. The judges were all impressed with the depth of knowledge and quality of presentations. This exercise taught the Panua youth key life skills of budgeting, problem solving, creative thinking and team work. It taught the judges how valuable these young people are to their communities. As they transform their lives, they also transform the lives of the people they live near.
“Panua Partners in Hope” was witnessed by all interactions today!