By Teyo Broers
Earlier this year (February → June), I was part of the team in Kenya conducting an Internship for Agriterra. The aim of the Internship was to help finalize the SDGP (Sustainable Development Goals Partnership) and help kickstart the ACTING NOW project in the Kericho region. Below I wrote a short blog about the key findings and experiences.
Saturday the 11 of March, my airplane arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, I arrived late at night and the first impression I got from the city is the magnitude, all the lights revealed the scale of Nairobi, big buildings and nicely lit up roads made my way to the accommodation special.
Monday I went to the office, now former office in Nairobi. There I met with the team, and my coaches Daan and Emanuel. My role, terms of research and all the practicalities where discussed and two days later I found myself in the field. My role was to help commercialize bio-solutions produced by the cooperatives and support both the SDGP and ACT Now activities in the region.
Most of the time in the field I worked with my colleague Henry Sang, the cooperative advisor in Kericho County. Together with him we went into several adventures and we worked closely as a team to efficiently tackle all the deadlines.Together we visited seven coffee cooperatives spread all over Kericho, when we started in March, only a single cooperative had a bio-solution production facility, at the end of the internship we managed to implement and build together with the cooperatives several bio-solution production plants, and offer bio-solutions to hundreds of coffee farmers.
Several challenges were also faced on a day-to-day basis. Transport was usually one of the biggest challenges, whether it was a motorbike, a van or Matatu or even a private car it was very common for something to break. We would find ourselves stuck in a road hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest cooperative. It was during these situations where me and Henry really had the chance to show or strengths and work jointly to find a solution. If you ask me, I would say this is the best team building exercise.
During my stay I had the opportunity to meet and bond with several colleagues and have amazing experiences together. I worked closely with the team in Nairobi, specially with my tutors Daan and Emmanuel, but also got the opportunity to meet other professionals and work with them. Ruben Borges from Rockin Soils visited the SDPG project in April, and together with him we conducted a training, on coffee fertilization and bio-solution preparation to members of all seven cooperatives.
Me and Ruben Borges from Rockin soils during the certification ceremony after the trainings
In my last week in Kenya, I joined Daan in a bike race around Hells gate national park in Naivasha. This was definitely a big challenge for me because of several reasons, I had no previous training, I did not know the route by heart and I even had a pizza for breakfast the morning of the race. Surprisingly and after about 5 hours, I managed to finish the race. At the end of the day it wasn’t really about the race, but more about getting our of my comfort zone and explore the beautiful landscapes and nature of Kenya.
This Internship has been far more than just that, for me it was an opportunity to develop both my professional skills and create some amazing memories with great people. The most valuable lesson I learnt during my stay was that the best way to become a better person, is to leave your comfort zone and explore new challenges. I will certainly miss Kenya and I hope to be back soon!