Requirements: 3 Recommendation letters (2 from teachers, 1 from minister, pastor, rabbi, employer or family friend); Passport (with more than 1 year until expiration); Application; and Essay describing why the applicant desires to join Machao's Kids Helping Kids Team and and what his/her special talent is. Please submit materials to showcase applicant’s special talent (copies only - materials will NOT be returned). Example: art work, writing samples, musical recording, etc.
Deadline: All materials are due at the end of January, 2013. Applicants will find out in one week whether or not they have been accepted as a team member. Selected team members' parents/guardians must be in attendance at the first orientation; failure to do so will disqualify the student.
Junior Ambassador of Machao Orphanage
Student, Polytechnic School, Pasadena, CA
During last year's thirty-year anniversary of the first diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, scientists, activists, and politicians around the world trumpeted man’s recent progress against the virus. Since the blight first cut its bloody swathe across the globe three decades ago, infection rates have dropped, public education has skyrocketed, and medical advancements have turned the condition into a manageable malady for many. Yet it is easy to forget an all-too-prevalent class of AIDS victim- the orphans. In Africa alone, there are over 15 million AIDS orphans (UN 2010). Many languish in horrifying conditions of poverty and abuse, though institutions like Machao Orphanage in Makueni, Kenya provide crucial relief to a lucky few.
This summer, Dr. Rowley and Professor Mike Gonella led a team in building a permaculture system at Machao in an effort to provide the orphans with the nutrients to grow and thrive. In an effort to supplement the childrne’s sparse diet of chickpeas and white rice, the team built a chicken shed and a greenhouse, which complement the recently installed produce gardens and livestock pens. Though verdant forests once carpeted the land, deforestation and severe erosion had reduced the landscape to a rusty, rocky heap with little nutrients. In the face of such adversity, the team turned to permaculture to optimize the project's long-term success and sustainability. Vaulting into the global stage in the early '80s, permaculture seeks to harness nature's immense power by working with the Earth, while promoting environmental consciousness and societal sustainability.
We implemented these principles by first assessing the natural patterns of the land — where the rain gathered, where the sun shines — in order to figure out the ideal locations for the projects. Second, the projects were arranged to form a sustainable, closed loop system, each a cog in the master plan, working together to mimic nature's cycle. For example, each project helps create a natural, symbiotic cycle: goats and cattle protect the gardens from invasive weeds, with their droppings serving as potent fertilizer to shore up the soil, and then the garden pruning feed the livestock once again to complete the cycle. Further capitalizing on this synergy, Machao hopes to plant a “food forest,” a symbiotic, edible ecosystem, using the varying heights of complementing fauna to create a natural canopy. Towering mango trees could shade the squatter papayas, for example, which in turn would support shade-loving ground cover crops. Such an approach will pay off in nutritional dividends for the orphans. Whereas the children previously ate meat only once a week, the new chicken coop will sustain 36,500 free-range eggs a year. Similarly, the greenhouse could produce up to 50,000 tomatoes annually. With these projects, Machao will transform from rocky hill to bountiful orchard through the power of permaculture.