Learning from an Overseas Visitor

Learning from an Overseas Visitor

I had the pleasure of attending a recent growing project harvest celebration with a representative of one of our programs in Malawi. Nancy Kimani Hinga, program consultant for CRWRC/World Renew, is in North America now on a deputation visit. She’s a deeply spiritual, friendly and gracious person, and an excellent speaker. She reported to attendees on the impact FRB’s Malawi-Nkhoma program has had on the women who participate in it. 

The harvest celebration took place on the farm of Gale and Trish Dugan in Otsego MI, hosted and attended by the volunteers from the Kalamazoo First UMC/Otsego UMC growing project, their families, and anyone curious about the work of FRB. The weather forecast had definitely been iffy – rain! ice pellets! Though it was cool (in the 50s) and gusty, we saw sun through the clouds. It seemed very cold to Nancy, accustomed to the warmth and sunshine of Malawi. But it was her first time on a U.S. farm, and she was warmed by the welcome she received from all who attended. She enjoyed these very American experiences – the potluck, the autumn leaves, the hayride, the breathtaking views from the wagon, the singalong – on and around a beautiful hilltop on the Dugan farm.

Nancy had come prepared with a PowerPoint and a film, but quickly switched gears when she learned there was no electricity on the hilltop. She spoke, excitedly and off-the-cuff, about what the Nkhoma Relief and Development program has meant, particularly to the women who participate in the program. Nancy said that it’s the women who always “get it” first, meaning they quickly see the possibilities in what they learn from program trainings. For example, she spoke of a woman who convinced her husband to put his conservation farming training to use on a portion of their land. He planted ¾ of an acre in maize, placing the seeds in holes filled with organic fertilizer and protected with mulch to keep precious moisture from drying out. He planted his remaining 2 acres using the traditional method of planting on top of mounds or ridges in the field. In spite of drought conditions in Malawi, too, this year, this farmer harvested 17 fifty-kg bags of maize from his ¾ acre plot … and only 8 bags from the 2-acre plot! You can be sure that he, and neighboring farmers, will be doing a lot more conservation farming this year!

Since I’m not a traveler, it’s a profound pleasure to be able to spend some quality time, through my work with FRB, with visitors from our programs around the world. Nancy brought enthusiasm, experience, knowledge, hope and laughter, and thanks from our Malawi- Nkhoma program. I’m not the only one who was fortunate enough to meet her and interact with her: her overnight hosts, and all the folks who attended the harvest celebration on the Dugan farm and got a chance to talk with her, felt honored and delighted, as I did, to have Nancy with us.

 I encourage everyone involved with FRB to look for an opportunity to host or, in my case, transport our overseas visitors sometime. The conversations open worlds! I echo what Nancy's hosts said: "Thank you for this gift."

by Laurie Kaniarz, FRB Staff

09/27/2012 | Comments: 1 | Add Comment