What an experience! I just got back from Kenya, Africa and I am still adjusting to life back here in Canada. Kenya is an incredible place with so much to offer in terms of it’s culture. The people in Kenya, are so amazing. They live a very simple life and enjoy it! Kenya also has so much to offer in terms of it’s land and crops. There is so much lush vegetation, it is green everywhere. However there is a problem, they do know the value of what they’ve got. They have the opportunity to be one of the healthiest nations in the world but they don’t understand the benefits of green veggies and their importance to health and immunity. This is a concern, because despite the simple and enjoyable life that they live, there is the impending issue of terminal diseases which takes the lives of so many Africans every year. This is where we “the Green Team” have stepped in, to make a difference and improve the quality and duration of their lives.
Heading out there. I had an idea of what to expect but nothing ever measures up to what you had thought. The mission for me was to be brought out there to educate different community villages on the benefits of greens. Yes greens! How amazing is that, they have greens everywhere in Kenya, growing all around them all year round! (I also can’t forget to mention the abundance of mango, banana and avocado trees – I was in tropical fruit heaven!)
Over the last year, each of these villages has been cultivated with their own organic garden. A team of well educated local individuals have made this a reality. With agriculture skills and strong knowledge for gardening, harvesting and planting these garden beds have been brought to life. With the garden beds in place, the next step is for the people (mostly ladies) in the villages to become educated on what it means to eat the greens they are growing! They have the resources, now they need to put it into action. As you may or may not know most individuals in Africa, have been inflicted with some type of disease. Whether it is Malaria, HIV or Typhoid, the truth is they have weak immune systems, which leaves them vulnerable to contract theses diseases at any given time and over and over again. With HIV in particular, the goal is not to let it transmit into Aids. With Malaria the goal is not to get it more then once a year – if that!
With an influx of fresh and raw greens in their diet, they should be well on their way. Victoria Butenko’s book Green for Life was our guideline and driving force for these communities to start eating more greens in the simplest way possible. Unfortunately most of the villages do not have access to electricity (meaning no blenders or Vita Mix’s), but we showed them how they can still make do. We have provided each village with a hand held juice extractor so at the very least they can get raw liquid green juice and then combine it with some fruit or just take it straight!
The next goal was to teach them how to cook their kale (Sukuma-wiki). Currently, they drench their kale in vegetable oil and cook it until it is brown (i.e. dead in nutrients). So I explained to them what this meant and taught them to just blanch their greens – dip the greens in boiling water for 1-2 minutes to take out the crunch/bite (and prevent any air-bourne illnesses) then combine it with some grains such as millet or rich and sweet potatoes (rather than Ugali – the traditional cornmeal that is a staple in their diet which is also low in nutrients). This way they could still enjoy cooked veggies by preserving it’s vibrant green colour and obtaining all of their vital nutrients.
Education is the driving key to make any immediate changes. It will take time for all of this to be put into action, but the goal is one year. My friend Elisa, the team naturopath, has taken a base line of their health and we will see what happens over the next year when they make changes in their diet. The next little piece to this project was the support for the many orphanages and child homes all around Africa- as many children have been left abandoned by their mothers (no money, no resources, ill health etc…). Of course many of them as well have been sadly inflicted HIV and Malaria, but luckily they have been taken in by caring and compassionate individuals who are dedicated to giving these children a roof over their head and food on their plate. Part of this food is greens, as these homes and orphanages have also been equipped with some of the best looking organic gardens that I have ever seen. Every seed and plant is in it’s perfect place for optimal growth and output. Even in some of these locations the children are actually in charge of their own plot of land. At such a young age, some of them don’t even realize how lucky they are to be able to have access to organic green veggies. The nutrition that they will gain from this vegetation will hopefully infuse their bodies with good nutrition to prevent long term and terminal diseases.
I can’t even describe the gratitude that I have to have been part of this incredible project and mission. We have set out to do something incredible and my team leader Dale (from Natural Calm Canada) has been set on this mission for years. He has dedicated his entire being and business to supporting these Kenyan communities. I am excited and humbled to help to make a difference to the lives of Kenyans. I can’t wait to go back next year and follow up and see the difference that Green Veggies have made in their lives. I sure know they have made a difference in mine!