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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I never been on a farm in Ireland, never mind Kenya’

21-year-old, Denise Kelleher from Cork City reflects on her time experiencing the agricultural way of life in Kenya in the first of a two-part interview.

A young Irish woman who was never on a farm in her life had her first experience of agricultural life by travelling to Kenya.

21-year-old, Denise Kelleher from Cork City ventured to the African country with Brighter Communities Worldwide.

The Irish NGO works in partnership with local communities in Kenya and celebrates 20 years of working across health, sanitary and economic empowerment programmes.

Denise, a third-level student of international development at UCC, obtained a placement with Brighter Communities Worldwide, an opportunity she says has afforded her “a cherished experience”.

Farming in Kenya

Staying in Kericho County, where the charity is based, was quite a change for Denise, who is a self-confessed city girl.

She says:

“Seeing the rural way of life was a big culture shock. I never been on a farm in Ireland, never mind Kenya.”

“There was maize taller than myself growing all around the centre I was staying at, and every time we would leave.”

“I would see all the people in the fields with big shovels from the minute the sun hits the sky.”

“We started in Nairobi and then drove up the rift valley to Kericho County.”

“On the way, we dropped into a man called Rob, who is a friend of the people from Brighter Communities Worldwide.”

“He had a big farm with a lot of different fruit and vegetables growing, and I noticed that they were not separated into rows of one crop as how I imagined before.”

“There was cabbage, lettuce, avocados, bananas, everything you can think of, and I never saw any crops up close before; it was quite fascinating.”

“Rob also has an ant-hill and told us that if we ever got cut out in the bush, we should use the ants in the anthill to catch onto the cut and help stitch it up.”

“So, I decided to be brave and let an ant grasp onto my finger, and when it did, I started screaming and shaking my hand to get the ant off. It was definitely an experience I will not forget.”

Read previous news article on www.thatsfarming: Dairy farming in Kenya: Producing 7 to 9 litres per cow per day

City girl

Denise, who spent a month in Kenya, working and experiencing the full extent of the work of Brighter Communities Worldwide, added that her time was filled with “multiple experiences” from getting out onto programmes, meeting the communities and learning more about development work.

She noted adjusting to a different lifestyle, especially the agricultural way of life, in particular, which was “very different to me as a city girl”.

Across the street from where she stayed was Baraka Agricultural College, which was founded by the Franciscan  brothers.

She also met three of those brothers, who were “amazing and hospitable people”.

“I felt like I was at home in Ireland, even though I was thousands of miles away.”
“Another day, we received a tour of the campus, and I saw the biggest pig I have ever seen. It was like staring at a human!”


She also added that Baraka produces a lot of honey, so they maintain beehives before sharing another encounter.

“When we got close to the building where they were, I could hear the buzzing a little too loud, and it would not go away.”

“This particular bee would not leave me alone, and I remembered from being at Rob’s farm a few days earlier that when one bee stings, they release an odour to make the other bees in the hive think they are under attack.”

“This meant that they would come to attack me, so when I kept hearing that buzzing sound, I screamed and fell to my knees.”

“People probably thought I was a mad woman, but I did not care. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but it was exhilarating,” she added.

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