Can a Phoenix really rise out of the ashes? When circumstances in life look hopeless, it is difficult to comprehend how a Phoenix can rise out of fire, renewed and reborn.
I thought about this as I reflect on the challenges facing the people of West Pokot, the northern part of Kenya in the North Rift Valley. The people living in West Pokot are nomadic pastoralists.
This region of the country is arid and receives very little rainfall; the area is often hit with extreme drought. The West Pokot community has inadequate food and insufficient nutrition which affects other sectors in society such as education, health of child bearing women, the development of children etc.
In the midst of these circumstances, the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) where I work saw the rising of a Phoenix named Selina.
According to Selina:
The training I received during the OAIC “Redeeming the Harvest” workshop on Food Security has changed my life as well as my family and the community. I have experienced several breakthroughs which have changed my mindset completely on how I farm. I almost gave up on farming in West Pokoto because nothing seemed to grow in this area. After attending training on Food Security, we started to organize ourselves into groups with the youth. These groups have been a great place to exchange ideas and techniques on farming. As a result of the discussion we had with other farmers and the information I received from the training I started cultivation of draught resistant crops such as cow peas and cassava. I also plant sweet potatoes, sorghum, wheat, pumpkins onions and bananas.
All of these crops grow nicely in spite of the ecological conditions in West Pokoto. Not only is my family enjoying the varieties of food, we also have more nutritionally balanced meals. My family’s living standards have changed as I moved from being a farmer whose crop yield is depended on the amount of rain and when there is not adequate amount of rain our crops fail. I have been transformed into a more reliable food secure farmer who has food throughout the year.
My income level and the health of my family have all improved. We used to have one meal a day or at times no food, but today we can enjoy three meals and I can host visitors with ease. The whole community has experienced the same changes as I shared what I learned with other farmers in my community.
Thank you OAIC and friends for walking with the people in West Pokot. We are grateful for the training on food security. It has not only benefited my family but my community. My improved income has helped me to gain confidence in knowing I have something that I can do to reduce poverty, family /gender based violence, malnutrition in he community to improved health, living standards and education for all.
Like the phoenix that rises out of the arid ashes, Selina and her community’s lives are rising with a rejuvenated sense of hope and a renewed vigor. Your spirit of generosity and kindness carries their dreams forward as they soar like the Phoenix on faithful wings of opportunity.
- As we await the long rains in East Africa, please pray for the farmers that rely on the rains to grow their crops.
- Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea as they rise out of the ashes of Ebola.
- As we mark 2015 World Women’s Day in March, pray for the trafficking of young women in Africa to dangerous and uncertain future.
Phyllis Byrd serves with the OAIC as the Director for their Just Communities Program. She also serves as associate minister at St. Andrew's PCEA. This is a joint appointment with the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples' Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.