At Thankyou, I’ve spent the last six years making sure certain day-to-day operations go according to plan as well as monitoring the financials of our business. I absolutely love what I do – not just because I enjoy the different elements of the work but because I know that I’m playing a part in something so much bigger. Something that I’d soon, standing on African soil, have the incredible opportunity to witness. As a first-time visitor to Africa, I must admit I was feeling a little nervous. I hadn’t been “on the field” for nearly three years; my last trip had been back in 2011 when I had the opportunity to head to Cambodia to visit the very first water projects we’d funded. It was crazy to reflect on how much had changed since that point.
The incredibly hospitable World Vision staff greeted us in Nairobi, and together we drove to Makueni where we were funding our first short-term Food for Now projects, as the area was hit hard by the East Africa Drought in 2011. Prior to the 2011 drought, communities in Makueni had already experienced three successive droughts. This meant that the community needed to receive food distribution to meet their immediate food needs, while they began to recover from the effects of the drought season and rebuild their livelihoods.
I was immediately blown away by the systems in place and the sophisticated technology being used on site. Each person collecting food had their own identification card to scan which showed the quantity of food to be given to them according to their family’s size.
One thing that struck me was how happy some of the children (that were identified by community health workers as malnourished) would be to receive ‘plumpy sup’- a nutrient-filled, paste-like substance. They would run to receive it with huge smiles on their faces, considering it a treat. They absolutely loved it!
It was also eye opening to see how happy the people of Makueni were even though some of them would be relying on a food distribution program as their primary source of food; something I have never had to worry about. Personally it was so incredible to see that even in their present circumstances, they were some of the most joyful people I had ever met.
To be funding our first food project was a dream come true, but at the same time I couldn’t help but think about the millions of more lives just like the ones we’d met that still lacked food security. Seeing the reactions of the families when receiving grain and maize was enough to make me want to go home right then and there and get working to help provide more people with access to food aid and food security programs.
My trip to Africa was incredibly humbling; I had seen our water projects before in Cambodia, but to meet the communities in Makueni, hear their stories and see how food aid has changed their lives re-confirmed to me how important it was for us to continue to expand our range to be more than just water.
I came home from Africa feeling refreshed and ready to keeping working hard, eager to sit down and plan with Daniel and Justine for the future of Thankyou. I am so blessed to be able to work at Thankyou. When you can use the skills you’ve been given for something you are passionate about, changing lives for the better, you will never feel like you’re working another day in your life. I am living the dream!