CIFORD Kenya: Compassionate Community Action

The women leaders of CIFORD in front of their office.

In April of this year, I got an email from Margaret Ikiara. She works for Community Initiatives for RuralDevelopment (CIFORD Kenya) in the Meru North district of Kenya, and was writing to begin a partnership between CIFORD and SIA. I receive many emails every year from people asking for assistance but Margaret’s letter caught my eye. I could hear her dedication and passion for her work as she told me about the people that CIFORD had helped over the last year. I want to share that passion with you and tell you about some of the amazing work CIFROD is doing for those most in need.

Since 2002, CIFORD Kenya has focused on community capacity building, sustainable agriculture, HIV/AIDS, and information transfer to work toward their vision of creating “a self-reliant rural community that is able to evolve a sustainable community development.” The organization, which works closely and effectively with individuals and local groups, is a good example of the local indigenous organizations that Jennifer Lentfer of How Matters thinks are particularly poised to “unleash social change” in developing countries.

I was amazed to read about the many different projects that CIFORD is working on and the great range of people they work with directly. Here are some highlights from Margaret’s reports:

HIV/AIDS Support Programme: In 2009, CIFORD trained 37 HIV/AIDS caregivers. “The effect of HIV/AIDS has been unbearable with many children are orphaned at an early age. These children are left with the grandparents who are elderly and can barely feed them.” This program helps orphans pay their school fees and helps grandmothers start income generating activities to support the children. Helping the grandmothers get ahead financially means that they children can remain living with family, rather than being sent off to orphanages in different communities. Margaret writes, “This has made many people who were hopeless to have a smile on their faces.”

Margaret Ikiara (on left) presents the gift of a goat to Agnes Acuri and Susan Nkatha. The goat will help these women, who are living with HIV/AIDS, earn money to care for themselves and their families.

Margaret Ikiara (on left) presents the gift of a goat to Agnes Acuri and Susan Nkatha. The goat will help these women, who are living with HIV/AIDS, earn money to care for themselves and their families.

Sustainable Agriculture Programme: Currently, CIFORD Kenya is working with 10 groups (365 people total) in agriculture activities. These groups are being trained to use techniques that will keep the soil healthy and eliminate the need for expensive farm inputs, including:

  • Compost Making – adds nutrients to the soil
  • Integrated Pest Management – uses good bugs to control pests
  • Double Digging – loosens the soil to help the roots and retain moisture
  • Raised and Sunken Beds – mixes the soil

The farmers have been trained on the compost making for use at their farms.

The farmers have been trained on the compost making for use at their farms.

CIFORD has partnered with Kilili Self Help Project in Mill Valley, CA to train on bio-intensive farming and Amistad International in Palo Alto, CA on women empowerment. So far, SIA has contributed to CIFORD only with a mini grant for them to buy local kale and onion seeds, which were given to people living with HIV/AIDS. I hope also that the letters and good conversation between Margaret and me since her first letter in April helps fan her passion and keeps this great organization going strong.

You can read more about CIFORD on their website or on their Facebook page.

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