Mitahato Teaching Farm: local solutions for global challenges

The Mitahato Education and Development Fund (MEDF), founded in April 2013 is the parent organization of the Teaching Farm in Mitahato, Kenya. Their mission to promote sustainable livelihoods and food security for smallholder farmers has grown to impact rural communities both in Kenya and around the world through specific skills training at their ¼ acre model farm.

Mitahato Teaching Farm started working with Skype in the Classroom in October last year and since then have met thousands of students around the world via Skype. We caught up with Michael Njoroge Kaburi who is their Project Coordinator & Skype Educator to hear more about his experiences.

“Hujambo! [hello] It was an awesome experience for us!”

“We loved your Teaching Farm!”

“We are ready to connect again on Skype!”

These were some of the responses received after connecting with classrooms around the world over Skype video calls.

Our Skype calls have covered a wide variety of subjects: from conservation and climate change to digital literacy, food security, and cross-cultural diversity. They’ve allowed me to travel to countries that I had only seen on maps and dreamed of, and to meet engaging and committed teachers and students around the globe.

Here are a few of my favorite Skype highlights:

In one of the classes we connected with, the teacher asked every student to pick an animal that lives in Kenya and mimic its sound. The class was full of roars, chirps and buzzing, and it was wonderful to see that they had studied about Kenyan wildlife.

Teachers of three other schools we spoke to (in Hong Kong, Turkey and Uruguay) had made dishes of Pilau and Ugali to give their students a taste of our local Kenyan foods to better understand the culture of the country their students were visiting.

A taste of cultural Kenyan dishesWe’ve also had a great cultural exchange with students in Australia and New Zealand who enjoyed learning about our foods and cultural traditions, especially the rites of passage of nomadic communities in Kenya. They were startled to learn of the challenges facing women and children, the most vulnerable members of Kenyan society. We discussed water insecurity, civil conflicts as well as dated cultural practices like early marriages and female genital mutilation. Our call encouraged them to support one of our local projects, and shed light on global inequality issues and the need for international leaders to collaborate with developing nations for stronger human rights protection and gender equality.

Another memorable moment was meeting two schools in India and discover their impressive prowess in art. They demonstrated their love and commitment to planting and growing school kitchen gardens despite the scorching 104 °F heat. We shared local technologies and hardy crops that they could grow to meet their schools’ kitchen garden needs.

Students in India created a globe with seeds and veggiesFollowing last year’s devastating earthquake in Nepal, MEDF began a project in Taruka, central Nepal, to provide drinking water to 1,000 local families who otherwise would have to walk long distances to access water. Our partnership with Skype in the Classroom has affirmed the adage “local solutions for global challenges” and has given us a platform to share our mission globally.

Woman in Taruka, Nepal collecting water following MEDF's project to bring water to local familiesAnother recent project we have been working on is the HIV Family Initiative where we are collaborating with classrooms around the world over Skype to help raise funds to sponsor local families impacted by HIV and help them set up vegetable gardens, install underground water tanks and provide transportation to local clinics and supplementary medical care.

The Illinois school that presented MEDF with a check for the HIV Family Initiative

At the Teaching Farm with the beneficiaries of the HIV Family Initiative

On April 22nd this year, our founder Irving Newman climbed Mera Peak (6,476 m/21,247 ft) in the Himalayas and proudly displayed a banner promoting the partnership between Skype in the Classroom and MEDF. During his 21-day expedition he carried with him a simple message “that all children should have the opportunity to reach their personal summits in life.”

MEDF Founder Irving Newman with the Mera Peak exepdition teamWe hope that the 476,280 (and counting) Skype miles we’ve travelled so far—the equivalent to travelling to the moon and back— our partnership with Skype in the Classroom, and all the connections we’ve made around the globe are helping children and families reach their summit in life.

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Teachers: Find out more about Mitahato Teaching Farm and request a virtual field trip for your students:

Parents: Why not ask your school to get involved with Skype in the Classroom so your kids can experience the world live from their classrooms?