A cool breeze blows through the hairs on my arms and legs. Starlings twitter in the trees above me as they wait for the tractor to plough up more insects. The sound of voices drifts on the air and I hear Dad and Julius laughing at me. Apparently Kenyans don’t expect a mzungu to sleep in the dirt under a tree on a farm. But that’s exactly what I’m doing. And I’m loving it. I actually doze off for a while because there’s little better than lying in the shade on a summer’s day.
Dad and Julius sit nearby in the dust talking about the vegetables the school is going to grow on the farm. Julius is a big strong man who always seems to be smiling. He tells Dad that they intend to grow kale, carrots and corn. Then he asks Dad whether he’s sure I’m comfortable on the ground or whether I want to sleep in Rosemary’s car.
Meanwhile, the tractor trundles up and down the farm.
What was just a block of land a day ago is now starting to look like a farm. It’s amazing the difference the dark brown colour of ploughed land makes to the way a parcel of land feels.
In the plot next door a farmer ploughs his land by hand. The man works all day without a break. It must be torturous work, especially in the heat. But this is Kenya and hard work is a reality here.
On the school’s farm, a labourer carries a huge drum of diesel to the tractor on his shoulders.
A man climbs a tree to start cutting it down using a machete to allow the tractor to plough underneath it so more crops can be grown on the farm.
And women cut the tree’s branches into firewood for cooking fires. They then carried the heavy piles of firewood to their homes.
But it’s not all hard work on the farm. As the local boys come home from school, they are drawn to the freshly ploughed soil like bees to honey. Their afternoon is filled with laughter, running, somersaults, jumping, rolling and playful wrestling in the soft dusty soil. I’m sure their mothers will be upset when they come home because families here have to walk a few kilometres to buy water from the closest bore if they want to bathe. And here in Kenya, families like to send their children to school clean so the boys will need to bathe.
But for me, that’s not such a concern: I am just happy to see these smiling young faces having fun. They remind me of my nephews back home.