Largest P.E.I. group of Farm­ers Help­ing Farm­ers vol­un­teers in 35 years head­ing to Kenya

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES/COMMUNITY -

This month, a group of 20 vol­un­teers from Farm­ers Help­ing Farm­ers is trav­el­ling from P.E.I. to Kenya - the largest del­e­ga­tion since the first group trav­elled to Africa more than three decades ago.

The group in­cludes nurses, FHF mem­bers and four vol­un­teers who are part of a new pro­ject with Vet­eri­nar­i­ans With­out Bor­ders-Canada.

Nurs­ing stu­dents from UPEI will con­duct home and school vis­its to de­ter­mine fam­ily and child health sta­tus and pro­vide treat­ments and ad­vice to­ward dis­ease preven­tion.

Re­tired nurse Nancy MacFadyen, who will ac­com­pany the group, will also be dis­tribut­ing mos­quito nets at schools in the Meru area - al­most 2,000 nets over three weeks.

Is­lan­ders have al­ready con­trib­uted more than $6,000 to­wards the nets, with a fundrais­ing cam­paign un­der­way in 2016 to pay for the rest.

Farm­ers Help­ing Farm­ers vol­un­teers will also be vis­it­ing schools, women’s groups and dairies who are part­nered with the P.E.I. or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“We will be over­see­ing the in­stal­la­tion of wa­ter tanks, do­nated dur­ing the re­cent Hol­i­day Fundrais­ing Cam­paign, on women’s farms so they can store wa­ter they col­lect dur­ing the rainy sea­son,” says group co-or­di­na­tor Teresa Mel­lish.

“We will also carry let­ters from Is­land twinned schools to Kenyan schools.”

The group is also look­ing for­ward to the open­ing of an­other school cook­house funded by the Souris Vil­lage Feast. The cook­house will be lo­cated at Ki­irua Pri­mary School, which is twinned with the school in Souris.

This is also the first part­ner­ship be­tween Farm­ers Help­ing Farm­ers and Vet­eri­nar­i­ans With­out Bor­ders-Canada. The Is­land team of four is among the first group of more than 100 Cana­di­ans who will take on vol­un­teer as­sign­ments around the world over the next five years.

Dr. John VanLeeuwen, a ve­teri­nary pro­fes­sor at the At­lantic Ve­teri­nary Col­lege in Char­lot­te­town, was in­stru­men­tal in de­vel­op­ing the new vol­un­teer pro­ject. One of the founders and cur­rently the chair of VWB Canada, he has trav­elled to Kenya al­most 20 times through projects spon­sored by the UPEI, Farm­ers Help­ing Farm­ers and Vets With­out Bor­ders Canada.

“This five-year pro­ject in Kenya will en­able our part­ners to man­age their farms bet­ter so they can dou­ble or even triple their milk vol­umes and grow crops bet­ter for fam­ily nutri­tion,” says VanLeeuwen.

“The ex­tra milk will lead to more in­come, lead­ing to sus­tain­able liveli­hoods for th­ese fam­i­lies, with spin-off ben­e­fits to the com­mu­ni­ties in which they live.”

The VWB vol­un­teers will team up with staff and vol­un­teers from Farm­ers Help­ing Farm­ers to ex­change knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ences and lessons learned to take ad­van­tage of the syn­er­gies pro­duced with mul­ti­ple groups im­ple­ment­ing mul­ti­ple projects si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

The vet­eri­nar­i­ans and vet stu­dents will treat sick an­i­mals, con­duct herd health ac­tiv­i­ties and train farm­ers and an­i­mal health per­son­nel on best man­age­ment prac­tices for health man­age­ment and dis­ease con­trol.

A book­keeper will pro­vide train­ing to farm­ers and Dairy Group em­ploy­ees to de­velop bet­ter ac­count­ing prac­tices, and a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist will be ex­am­in­ing crops and crop­ping prac­tices and pro­vid­ing ad­vice and train­ing on best man­age­ment prac­tices.

To find out more about the work of Farm­ers Help­ing Farm­ers, check out www.farm­er­shelp­ing­farm­ers.ca.

This five-year pro­ject in Kenya will en­able our part­ners to man­age their farms bet­ter so they can dou­ble or even triple their milk vol­umes and grow crops bet­ter for fam­ily nutri­tion.

Dr. John VanLeeuwen, AVC

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