When I accepted the position of Food Security Fellow, I imagined living in a remote village with limited to access to all the things I took for granted in my daily life in California. I am happy to say, I was wrong! Eldoret is a bustling town that sits on the main route between Nairobi and Uganda. Previous fellows who have worked in Eldoret since 2015 have been surprised at how quickly the city has grown in the past few years. Growth is fantastic—it provides even more opportunities for our work to make an impact!
Living in Eldoret has been full of many great experiences that I did not expect. First, the community members who make up the AMPATH consortium are amazing. AMPATH has built a neighborhood filled with a variety of people; doctors who support the program long term, students who come to learn about global healthcare for a short time, researchers, and folks like me, who have skills they want to share.
Wednesday evenings are one of my favorites. Dinner is catered in the cafeteria, and all of us—students, doctors, researchers, and other members of the AMPATH community—gather for dinner. It’s nice to feel like we are all a family during that time. After dinner, someone will speak about a topic within global health.
Why would an Ag person be interested in that, you may wonder? Global agricultural development is closely linked to global health. Everything we do is because people need healthy food in order to live their best lives. Global health issues affect how I approach my work, and I have to be aware of all the challenges faced by community members so I can do my job more effectively. Being able to partake in these conversations with people from varied backgrounds has helped me to look at these issues through a different lens and opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist when people pool their resources, talents, time, and energy.
The community is full of fun things to do. On Thursdays, we may have happy hour in the AMPATH founder’s banda (outdoor eating hut). The children happily run around and play on the swing set while the adults talk and catch up. On the weekends, I might take a day trip to Umbrella Falls, a beautiful, waterfall nearby or I might hike Mt. Elgon, one of the tallest mountains in Kenya. There is never a lack of things to do or people to meet.
I am, of course, a food lover, and Eldoret has some delicious options! I was surprised when I got here how much Indian influence there is in the cuisine. Some of my favorite meals are a mix of Kenyan and Indian foods. Sukuma wiki, kale, and naan, a flat bread, are staples in most of my meals. As my assignment is in its second half now, I’m becoming more conscious that this wonderful adventure will come to an end all too soon.
I could not be more grateful for the experiences I have had working with the farmers here and the amazing community of which I have become a member.
Photo: Erica Duffy after participating in the Nairobi Marathon