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It is estimated that a staggering 33.3 million people are living with HIV globally, and having killed over 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, HIV/AIDS has become one of the world’s most life threatening diseases, according to WorldAIDSDay.org.

The pandemic has been globally recognized once a year since the first world AIDS day was held in 1988, marking the creation of the first global health day. This Saturday, December 1, marks the 24th World AIDS Day, and a time when we should all reflect upon the millions of lives that the disease threatens and take action to fight the pandemic.

Phot credit due to worldaidscampaign.org

What You Can Do

Provide Medicine to HIV infected Kenyans with our partner Slum Doctor Programme (SDP). In Kenya, the government provides those infected with HIV/AIDS certain medicines to help fight the disease, but not with all the treatments that are needed. With a gift of $30 you can provide an infected individual in Kenya with two weeks of HIV treatment, or 1 month for $60. With your gift, SDP’s Tumaini Clinic program will help give free antiretroviral therapy that the government does not provide to Kenyans living with HIV.

Based out of Bellingham, WA, SDP also works locally to educate kids in middle school and high school with education about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Give Care to HIV Infected Cambodian Children: Cambodia is home to the highest number of HIV/AIDS in Asia.  Our partner New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC) works with orphaned children who are infected with HIV and often are not adopted because of their infection. By giving just $75 to NHCC you can support the medical needs of one HIV infected child for 6 months.

Promote Health Awareness in Kenya through Soccer: Our nonprofit partner Village Volunteers hosts a Kick it With Kenya program in which you can sponsor one child’s opportunity to gain health knowledge while having fun. While attending the soccer program, the child you sponsor will receive a health and HIV screening along with medical care, room and board, and a chance to take part in the fun, community-oriented soccer event.

You can also give a donation to the National AIDS Trust, or start a fundraiser of your own on their website, or begin a campaign on ours. The projects above, along with World AIDS day and everyone working to fight the disease worldwide will also work to accomplish one of the UN’s Millenium Development Goals, which is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Take Action

Whatever you do, we invite you to take action with us here at Jolkona and our sponsors around the globe who are working to fight the disease both today and throughout the year. Don’t forget to wear red in support of World AIDS Day and the fight against the pandemic on December 1 and give back to one of our campaigns to show your support!

To get more information on AIDS/HIV and learn the facts about the disease and World AIDS day, visit Worldaidsday.org and take the “Are you HIV aware” online quiz.

Like Jolkona on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check us out on Pinterest to keep up with all of our ongoing projects.

Biointensive farming and double dug beds
Double dug beds

One of the things that really sparked my interest during our trip to East Africa was seeing the innovation happening in the agriculture sector. In America, most of us are so far removed from our food and the food source whereas in rural Africa, everyone is a farmer. While visiting our partner Village Volunteers in Kitale, Kenya, many of us realized how much we take the produce we purchase from the grocery store for granted—no matter what season it really is, it’s so easy to purchase our favorite fruit and vegetables year-round which is defiantly not the case in rural Africa. There, everything has a season and if a particular crop is out of season, it just does not exist in your diet at that time.  Living in rural Africa for a few weeks also made me realize how time consuming farming really is.  From the time you plant your crops to the time you harvest and have food to feed your family, several weeks or months have gone by so I found myself really appreciating and savoring the fresh ingredients prepared while I was in the villages.  However, what really excited me during this trip was learning about the techniques for sustainable agriculture, which given the current global food crisis is becoming more and more important in development work.

During this trip, I was introduced to an agricultural technique known as Biointensive Agriculture. Basically, it’s an organic agricultural system which focuses on maximum yield from the minimum area of land while simultaneously improving the soil. Sack farming is also a popular technique, where virtually anyone can grow crops out of potato sacks.

What is Biointensive Agriculture?

Biointensive farming sack garden
Joshua shows us a sack garden.

Biointensive Farming, also called Biointensive Agriculture, is a technique that was launched by one of Village Volunteers’ partner NGO called Common Ground. Here is the definition of Biointensive Farming from the training manual, which you can download by clicking this link:

Biointensive farming is a self-help food raising method based on building and maintaining soil fertility and using NO chemicals. It is simple to learn and use, based on sophisticated principles dating back 4000 years in China, 2000 years in Greece, and 300 years in Europe. It was synthesized and brought to the U.S. by the English master horticulturist, Alan Chadwick, then further developed and documented by Ecology Action.
Important aspects of the method include:

  • Double-dug, raised beds
  • Composting
  • Intensive planting
  • Carbon farming
  • Calorie farming
  • The use of open–pollinated seeds
  • The whole gardening method

Chemicals are generally promoted when the soil is degraded, or the plants, trees, or animals are unhealthy. The biointensive farming model aims at restoring soil health and designing an environment that creates healthy plants, trees and animals. Biointensive training provides specific ideas on reducing and eventually eliminating the use of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and the like. It addresses the healing process of the soil’s fertility and structure to put nutrients back into the soil and the give the soil the ability manage different levels of water.

Right now, we work with Village Volunteers specifically to fund their water filter project. Part of our visit to Kitale was to learn how else Jolkona could partner with Village Volunteers in addition to the water filtration project, and Biointensive Farming may be a perfect fit. (Stay tuned!)

How can innovations in farming power a village?

We found innovation everywhere in this village. Joshua Machinga, the director of the program and founder of Common Ground, runs one of the best primary schools in the area that is almost fully self-sustaining. How does he do this? The school owns land that utilizes the techniques of Biointensive Farming. Crops feed all the children healthy meals, they also teach nearby villages and farmers about Biointensive Farming methods. Essentially, the technique taught teaches farmers to dig their crops deeper in order to maximize land use and to be able to plant twice as many crops compared to traditional farming techniques. Joshua also teaches Agroecology techniques where natural enemies are used instead of pesticides to ensure a sustainable ecosystem.  I was fascinated by this technique that I had never heard of until I returned and learned that many agricultural experts would argue this is one of the best solutions for fighting both the food crisis and climate change.

However, back to the program in Kitale, season after season, this program allows the school not only to increase their yields to feed all the students, but it even sustains a business model where the ability to profit from the surplus crop and invest funds back into the school. The land is also rich in brick soil they use the soil to make and sell bricks. Again, putting any profits made back into supporting the future of the school.  We need more social entrepreneurs in the world like Joshua’s who are looking for innovative solutions to create transformative and lasting change in their communities.

Stay tuned for more Jolkona projects to help support this program to spread biointensive and agroecology farming techniques throughout Kenya!

Joshua Machinga explains biointensive farming
Joshua Machinga, the director of the program and founder of Common Ground.

Kick it with Kenya (KWIK) – a Jolkona project partner – is a community soccer tournament that leverages community gathering for sports to promote public health awareness. What is so innovative about this tournament is that it harnesses the power of the community in a fun way (who isn’t passionate about soccer?) to rally around their villages and also improve access to medical care and prevention. The tournament was hosted in Dago, and the Dago village team took home first place! It was amazing to see the spirit of the community and be a part of the talk of the town. Needless to say, the entire village was partying all night long at the orphanage center and will have another celebration to officially welcome home the trophy on Sunday evening.

The tournament brought together over 500 participants and even more spectators to show their support for each village and to receive medical treatment and counseling.

We had a chance to observe the clinics in action during the tournament and interview the medical team, which we will share with you in future posts. While the soccer games were  going on at the school field, the classrooms were converted to temporary health clinics. There was an optometrist, a nurse who diagnosed conditions and dispensed medications, and an HIV testing counselor. The community had access to free vaccinations and health mentors and advocates. This year, over 500 people were tested for HIV screening and over 250 patients received medical care and medications during the tournament.

It was such a privilege to see this project in action and experience how the donations from Jolkona are leveraged because of the triage of support from the dedicated community volunteers, the government, and generous in-kind donations secured by the tournament’s organizers.

Thank you to past donors who helped make the annual Kick it with Kenya soccer tournament possible! This tournament only happens once a year, and we welcome your support of this project throughout the year so that it can continue to grow and improve the lives and building of community in this rural part of Kenya.

Happy holidays from Dago, Kenya!

As part of Jolkona’s 12 Days of Giving, Team Africa is launching a campaign to sponsor 20 students to participate in the next KWIK soccer tournament. For $27, you can help promote public health awareness through a fun community event. Want to help make an impact for the holidays? Check out Team Africa’s campaign page.

After spending the day seeing Nairobi, this morning we packed our bags and headed to Dago, a small rural village about 4 hours west of Nairobi. Of course we wake up early with the plan to leave at 8am, only to be reminded of “African standard time.” We didn’t leave the house until 8:45am and although we reached the shuttle stand without much delay, once we got there we again were faced with the reality of how slow things move in Africa. Our goal was to get on the 9am shuttle, which ended up being full. So with much convincing from our hosts, we were able to get booked on the 10am shuttle, only it didn’t actually arrive until 11am! Finally we loaded up our stuff with our local guide named Eric and were off.

Outside of Nairobi, the Kenyan countryside is just amazing! We passed through the Great Rift Valley and descended into the land of the Masaai, traditional Kenyan nomadic warriors.

The road through this part of town was quite smooth and very beautiful. After what felt like hours-and-hours of driving through the northern plains of Kenya, we ended up in Kissi. Here we were picked up by a car and then transported to Dago, about 30 minutes away.

The roads were bumpy, made mostly of dirt. We finally arrived in Dago at 5pm, just in time for us to catch the last quarter of the “Kick it With Kenya Soccer Tournament” semi-final round. Dago Dera Hera puts on this tournament with the financial support of one of our partners, Village Volunteers. The tournament brings together over 500 youth from neighboring villages for a 4-day soccer tournament that includes free HIV/AIDS testing, medications, check-ups, and public health education. It’s a great way to bring together so many youth and to promote public health awareness at the same time.

Great energy, great music, and a crowd of kids like I’ve never seen before…what more can you ask for? How about an amazing home cooked meal and great conversations with the organizers of the tournament and our host family for our stay in Dago.

This family is incredible! The mom and dad and all of their children have dedicated their lives to helping their community, one that suffers from a large orphaned population due to an epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the area. Needless to say, it was an amazing night of learning about how they got started in this work and everything that their community center and this tournament achieves.

One of the things that inspired me about this family is the extreme compassion they have to help others. Although they are fairly privileged in their village standards, they are by no means what any one of us would consider “wealthy” or even “well-off” in the U.S. However, without taking any compensation, they volunteer their time, energy, and whatever extra resources they have to help these orphans and their community. I’m just amazed at what they’ve accomplished and at their generosity.

After dinner we headed to our room for the night. It was such a humbling experience to sleep in a hut without running water and plumbing using a community bathroom/latrine. Although it was a huge adjustment from the city life in Nairobi, it’s actually quite peaceful once you get used to it. I mean, who needs electricity and running water when you have a tube, well, buckets, and flashlights anyway?

I’m really excited to be helping out with the health clinics on the last day tomorrow as well as presenting trophies and prizes to the winners of the final round tomorrow.

By coming here I am seeing first hand what an impact this tournament is making and how cost-effective it is. For just $27, you can sponsor one of the participants in the tournament and give them access to free health screenings, education, and screenings. I hope you will join me in our campaign to help raise money to cover the costs of 20 kids to attend this tournament.

Again, each scholarship is only $27, but if you can only give $5 or $10 it all goes a long way here, TRUST ME! Please make a small contribution today. Good night from Dago!

GET INVOLVED!