John, a farmer, lives in a remote village in Kenya where access to water is limited and rain is rare. He tells how Trócaire support helped him to change his life with a simple irrigation project and just half an acre of land.
John Gitonga Kamaindi, 54, is a farmer and a father of four. Known as ‘Masiga’ to his friends, nicknamed after a 1980s Kenyan football legend, he is a skilled footballer himself. He once dreamed of playing professionally but it wasn’t to be.
Like many in his small village in Kenya, his parents couldn’t afford to continue his education after primary school so instead, he focused on learning everything he could about farming.
As a young man, he moved away to get a job selling charcoal and later took work on other people’s farms to learn his trade.
Making the move back home when he had his family, he was able to secure his own small patch of land. But life as a farmer in his remote village was difficult. Access to water was limited and due to climate change, they couldn’t rely on regular rainy seasons. He struggled to be able to grow enough food to see his family through the long dry months.
John then joined a Trocaire supported project, run by Caritas Meru, which helps people to mitigate the effects of climate change. It provides training and helps farmers to develop drip irrigation, which enables crops to grow all year round.
Joining with the other farmers in his village, John worked to dig trenches and water boreholes. Using the training he received and the tank and pipes provided by Trocaire for drip irrigation, he is now able to grow tomatoes, pawpaws, mangoes, green peas, capsicum, maize, kale and sugarcane. He exports his pawpaws and sells six crates of tomatoes every week.
“Thanks to the sale of my tomatoes, I have been able to give my children an education,” he said, adding proudly that two of his children are attending university.
He is happy now that none of his children have to go to bed hungry because his farm has produce both in and out of the very rare rainy season.
And all of this, he says, he has been able to achieve with only half an acre of land. “My mission is to make sure that none of my children go through the same struggles I have. And I constantly remind them that their biggest wealth is their minds.”
John is proud that he has been able to grow his half an acre of land into something that has completely changed his life and is very grateful of the support.