By Meritt Buyer
We are happy to report that the BCC young adults program’s shamba (farm) is quickly taking shape. In the last few months, we have installed an irrigation system, planted fruit trees, started a small tree nursery, dug the beds, and planted lots of beans and other vegetables. It has been a joy observing the enthusiasm and team work with which the young adults take on the various tasks of “Shamba Darasa,” as job coach, Patrick Mangowi, likes to refer to it. “Shamba Darasa” literally translates to “farm class” and since this project is all about learning, it is an accurate title.
The vision for the shamba is that it will provide vocational training for our young adults, healthy food for all of our centers, and hopefully a source of income to make the program sustainable. But even before a single crop has been harvested, the shamba has already surpassed what I had envisioned. The sense of accomplishment I see the young adults developing as the shamba takes shape, the teamwork they foster while accomplishing tasks, and the problem solving abilities they are acquiring are invaluable.
In addition to learning farming skills, the Shamba provides ample opportunity for the kids to practice other skills as well. They use their math skills to count the number of starts in the tree nursery (over 200!), the number of seeds per hole, and the number of holes in a bed. They practice reading the seed packets. They practice social skills working with volunteers and other BCC staff.
But beyond all that, it is just plain fun! You can see it in the young adult’s excitement to go to the shamba, hear it in their laughter while they work, and feel it in the hugs and high fives as progress is made.