Linnet Griffith-Jones writes about volunteering at Compassion CBO in Kenya
Today Compassion's chicken project has finally begun! We had to start off on a smaller scale than we wanted - there are vaccinations, antibiotics and glucose... Not to mention the building work, feeder, water dispensers and heat lamps that Compassion had to get. Another problem is the unreliability of the power supply...
So here's how it works: for over a year now Evanson [the founder of Compassion CBO] has slowly been getting everything ready as he gets the money bit by bit, and luckily for me we are ready to begin - thanks to the help of Paul, a Canadian who helps with a school on the other side of the bypass that splits the slum in half. Paul has loaned Compassion the capital to get the iron sheets needed to make the old store rooms at Compassion's shamba [orchard] into a very decent-sized chicken house. He's also loaned us enough to buy the first batch of chicks (321 layers and 57 cockerels) with the proviso that, as soon as Compassion can, we pass the money on to the school that Paul supports.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, Compassion is going to sell some eggs and chicks, but most of them will be given away to women and women's groups in the slum and surrounding area for future economic empowerment.
With his customary caution, Evanson wants to start out small in case any mistakes are made; so we can learn without compromising the viability of the project. We're also lucky that there is a guy who lives near where the chicks are being kept, who reared chickens in his village, and is more than happy to give advice and encouragement.
Another way that the project is helping, all be it on a smaller scale, is by providing employment for a man who had been out of work for a while. He's been built some accommodation so that he can watch over the chicks at night, and he's been trained by Evanson and the 'chicken neighbour', so he knows how to look after the chicks, and he'll also provide security.
Keeping the Baby Chicks Warm, Fed & Healthy
Of course the major problem is funding. We had to start off on a smaller scale than we wanted; each layer costs 95 KES and the cockerels are 15 KES so this batch cost 30,750 KES.
The suppliers, who bring the chicks from Naviasha to Nairobi, gave us a few extra - but there are still the vaccinations, antibiotics that get added to the feed for the first two months, and things like glucose in their water to factor in. Not to mention all the building work, feeder, water dispensers and heat lamps that Compassion had to get before we began.
Another problem we face is the unreliability of the power supply. With such a massive investment involved we really don't want anything to go wrong with the chicks and one thing we have to do is keep the chicks warm, hence the warming lights, but when Evanson brought the chicks to Githogorog the power was off, and it was still off when I arrived around 10.30/11am.
Of course I didn't have to worry, as with his usual forethought Evanson had bought a large charcoal stove, but of course this has to be watched much more than heat lamps.
Tune in next time for more.