Its funny the little coincidences in life.
There was a little girl; she loved where she grew up. It was not until years later that she realised her love of the outdoors must have been from her beautiful childhood surroundings. Every day she would go with her Dad to buy milk and a paper from a little shop just around the corner. Later, as she grew, the girl and her brother got up in the dark and delivered these papers from the shop around the local streets. The girl grew up and left home and so did her siblings. Her Dad, 30 years on continued to buy his paper on the way to work at 6.30 in the morning. Everyday though the years, through the ups and downs a family spanning across three generations in a shop just a stone throw away from the home would smile and asked how everyone was. One day, the once little girl was married just down the road in this village and a few years later, her husband with their son in his arms, popped in to the shop to buy a homemade curry, “I recognise that accent” he said. It came to light that the family running the store had moved from Kenya many years ago.
Our favourite fruit seller, Virginia (the one in the Christmas Video) disappeared last week. We had been accustomed to her warm greeting and insistence on only giving us the sweetest, ripest fruit available. She would expertly pat the water melon, squeeze the mangos and smell the papaya, years of experience giving her clues that we have never developed. These last two weeks her stall has gone, we asked the neighbouring street seller where she had gone but they replied with a blank look and a shrug of the shoulders. Lucas suggested, “Virginia gone on an airplane to England? Maybe she is on holiday?” Although the former is unlikely and we hope that wherever she is she is okay, it brought in to our awareness how fragile things here are. A new supermarket opened up in town not so long ago, and with it has come many of the pressures on smaller sellers that we have seen in the UK over the last few decades. When we shop in our supermarkets, whether British or Kenyan the scanner bleeps as the green beans, tea and flowers goes on the conveyer belt, immediately this information is computed to a central computer and processed to the farm managers in Kenya, the order is altered to the consumer demand, crop picked and flown out that day to the supermarket central store and driven to the specific stores to fill the aisle and be awaiting the next drove of consumers the following day. The farm is under pressure to meet these orders. As we pass Naivasha, imbetween Nairobi and Nakuru, we see the expanse of white greenhouses covering several miles, the heavy farming is clearly showing its negative impacts on the lake, the workers are hired and fired according to international demand, something we’ve seen directly as part of the eye project. In one of the communities there was a very poor turn out of patients seen five years ago, it transpired that in this particular flower farm, the workers were hired for no more than 3 months at a time and for less than 30 pence for a full days work, not to mention all the potentially dangerous chemicals they have to work with. After three month periods lapse the workers can be released so the farm does not have to pay national insurance as they have not technically been “fired”. This works as a significant cost cutting exercise to meet the competitive prices forced by the consumer demand and supermarket price competition. The reason we had such a low turn out was that the farm owner decided as policy to release anyone over the age of 55. With the loss of job, loss of false hope and security they are left homeless and forgotten.
We shop in the big supermarket, the convenience and choice in our busy lives helps us justify it. It does however nag away at us and whenever we can we buy locally and try to support smaller family businesses. The little girl who grew up by the shop received a message last week to say Tesco was about to open in her old and beautiful small village where she grew up, got married and her parents still live could be changed forever. We are all connected in every part of the world and sometimes, whatever the circumstances we have to speak up for the smaller voices. Petition link
Recipe – Oat and Raisin Biscuits
- 250g salted butter, room temperature
- 150g caster sugar
- 150g self raising flour
- 230g porridge oats
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 200g raisins
Just preheat the oven to Gas 4/160ºC. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour, porridge oats, vanilla extract and cranberries and mix together until combined, using either your hands or the mixer. Form into balls about the size of a walnut and bake in the centre of the oven, on a tray, for about 10 – 15 minutes depending on how crunchy you like your biscuits. Leave on the tray to cool as they’re still fragile when they’re warm.
The Eye Project is in to the final phase – here we go again…