Growing Wisdom and Rabbits in Kenya

Growing Wisdom and Rabbits in Kenya

Haba na Haba is a new Kenyan youth initiative that inspires and skills young people for a positive future. Thanks to funds raised by Palms Australia supporters in 2017, volunteer Heather Henderson has been working to help this grass-roots organisation build a positive future for rural youth in Kenya. Heather has shared an update on their progress from their headquarters in Mukuru Kyaba, Nairobi.

Wisdom grows with experiences as wide and varied as possible. Listening and watching others through the lens of their own experiences is very humbling. I have grown exponentially here as a person and I still grow every day.

The experience here working with Haba na Haba and the Landi Mawe group has been amazing. They are all ready to grow and learn and the energy is great. But one thing with Kenyans is that they talk a lot about doing things but we have to get behind them and push them really hard. They don’t tend to make the final decision, taking that all important step.

We are currently re-working the Haba na Haba website, paying for it to be rebuilt. My colleague Christine continues to work on the constitution and the AGM will be help soon. The Sanitary Towel Project is now taking off at great speed and Haba na Haba is getting requests from many Kenyan NGOs to partner with them to get these towels out there. We will be running sexual health training programs to get people trained to run workshops in communities. We are also waiting to hear about a meeting with The First Lady, Margaret, wife to President Uhuru. We will be requesting that she be the patron for the Sanitary Towel Project. Someone is also organising a meeting with the UN to support the project. There is so much interest in what Haba na Haba is offering with this program that we are looking at doing a conference, once we have the backing of The First Lady.

Ngong National Rabbit Breeding Centre in Kenya, outside
Outside the Ngong National Rabbit Breeding Centre.

The community here in Landi Mawe are breeding rabbits. They learned about rabbit farming from the Ruben Centre. Now they are ready to take off in a big way. It is wonderful to be working together on this venture. They are a team of about 30 men and women doing rabbit farming here in the slum. They want to grow the project, so we are looking at setting up a project on a local farm. This will develop into a big project where a model farm will be established to show how to live with and work with the environment in mind. Kenya is really growing in this way.

Haba na Haba has also just made a connection with a local Indian company who will be donating some bundles of unga (flour), the staple food for making ugali, eaten by everyone here. Now Haba na Haba has to organise donations for this flour, document the project and promote the company through the webpage. Things are beginning to happen very quickly for the foundation right now. So the opportunity is arising for them to really show their capabilities, meaning they will get more partnerships coming forward and the snowball effect for membership and community involvement.

Feeling a rabbit at Ngong National Rabbit Breeding Centre, Kenya

The work is coming in very fast and we haven’t as yet even applied for international funding. Things are looking very good. What I love about this is that this is all coming from the community, exactly where we want to see the change driven from. These people are more than capable of implementing change themselves. What I have observed is that the trainings need to be of a better quality. That is where the international communities can help. I plan on helping with developing curriculum and mentoring for attitude changes around the issue of menstruation.

So, while we are developing the governance for Haba na Haba, life is going on with the advancement of these projects. I am meeting good strong female role models here and young men who are willing to come beside them to work with the development and attitudes of the youth. Good things are happening all around. I am so pleased to be part of this, to be walking beside the youth and cheering them on. I grow as they grow.

A woman inside the Ngong National Rabbit Breeding Centre

These photos are from our visit to the Ngong Veterinary Farm, a government institution that is training people about rabbit farming and selling rabbits to them to help them get started. It is wonderful to see the women are just as involved as the men. There is a move, I believe, across the world for people to move away from the big bovine red meat consumption, to white meat, which is lighter on the environment than cattle. The Kenyan government is supporting the idea of rabbit farming. We look at how the urine is used for various applications, from medicinal to insect repellent in farming. The meat is used for consumption and the fur will be used to make goods. The men here believe that the heads of the rabbit have aphrodisiac qualities, so they come looking for the heads to make soup. Everything is used. Even the claws are used to make jewellery.

Heather at the Ngong National Rabbit Breeding Centre
Heather at the Ngong National Rabbit Breeding Centre

You can support the professional development of programs like Haba na Haba by making a donation or applying to become a volunteer.