MCC photo/Minyoung "Blee" Jung

Community members get ready for a food distribution in a drought-affected area of eastern Kenya. MCC’s partner, Utooni Development Organization distributed food assistance in the villages of Kathyaka and Ngulu.

Minyoung “Blee” Jung is a Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN) participant from South Korea serving in Kenya. She’s working as a public relations coordinator for MCC’s partner, Utooni Development Organization (UDO) from 2017-2018. YAMEN is a joint program of MCC and Mennonite World Conference.

In many parts of the area near Kibwezi, Kenya, I see corn that has dried up. Driving around, it’s hard to find any corn that people will be able to harvest this season.

In February 2018, MCC’s partner Utooni Development Organization (UDO), started a food relief project in one of the drought-affected areas in the eastern part of Kenya, near the town of Kibwezi, Mukueni County. The distribution is being done the villages of Kathyaka and Ngulu and is funded by MCC’s account at Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Minyoung "Blee" Jung is a 2017-2018 YAMEN participant.MCC photo/Brenda Burkholder

I participated in the food distribution as a photographer. The experience made me think about how easy it is to access fresh water in my home country of South Korea, where there is a reliable water system.

But reliable water is not common in rural Kenya. In the village where I live with my host family, people have to harvest water, and it is not easy to find clean water. In Kibwezi, people farm, but the dry climate means the land is unproductive. They work hard for a better life, but through no fault of their own they are suffering.

UDO has already done three distributions of food in these villages because the drought has persisted. People here use the conservation agriculture techniques taught by UDO, but the drought has made it impossible to harvest crops this year.

UDO also works to improve food security and enhance sustainable livelihood opportunities for small-scale farmers in Machakos and Kajiado counties through conservation agriculture.

When we arrived at the distribution locations, many people were already gathered to wait for us.

James Kanyari, an MCC staff member, talks to beneficiaries about a food distribution in eastern Kenya. Utooni Development Organization, an MCC partner, distributed food in drought-affected villages, including Kathyaka and Ngulu. MCC photo/Minyoung "Blee" Jung

After a brief introduction, we started distributing the food.

Each group had a supervisor appointed by people from the village, and another person helped confirm everyone had enough and was able to carry it home. Because the sun was very hot, people worked slowly as they helped each other. Each person received 66 pounds of maize, almost nine pounds of beans and three-quarters gallon of oil.

The people of the village helped each other carry their rations home. Most people looked happy to receive the food, and many thanked us for the assistance.

When I return to South Korea, I want to discuss the poverty I saw in Kenya with my friends and talk about what we should do about this.

A Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite World Conference joint release.

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