PROFILE: Pillars Care Foundation, Migori CBO touching youths and farmers lives in Migori, Homa Bay and Vihiga

By Sam Kebongo

Imagine a nation blessed with fertile soil, sufficient rain and a young, growing population. One sees in the mind’s eye a rich, well fed and productive people who are citizens of a fast growing nation.

But this is not the case in most African countries where these conditions obtain and yet there is a problem of food scarcity, poverty and deprivation.

This is the irony that led to the formation of Pillars Care Foundation in April 2019.

The founder, Rodgers Oenga, a young Kenyan himself, saw the irony and realized that it arose, among other things, from the young people’s disdain for agriculture. He did not saw the opportunities that existed in agriculture and chose to take them. As he succeeded, he opted to not only educate but also educate the young people who had land and required resources and yet remained jobless and poor due to their obsession with formal employment. As such, PCF (Pillars Care Foundation) envisions to establish a green and inclusive environment for the youth to participate in sustainable agri-business development.

As such, its mission is to encourage youth in championing of green, modern and sustainable agri-business development.The main story is to enable the youth, and the society at large to view agriculture from a business perspective rather than the subsistence outlook that prevails.

Specifically PCF aims to create Job opportunities for the youths via agriculture whilst conserving the environment by championing the protection of water catchment areas.

Naturally, it advocates for safer farm practices that are environmentally friendly and advocates promotion modern farming techniques and new ideas and practices in the field of agriculture, business and environment. In the cause of pursuing all these other issues that affect the youth and the society were all too apparent.

Matters such as human rights, conditions of the marginalized and vulnerable groups became all too apparent. As such, PCF had to address issues of human rights and advocate social programs for the under-privileged and the vulnerable, in order to succeed in its mission… PCF has been driven by the belief that all lives have equal value and that everyone has a right to live a healthy, productive life.

“We invest in agriculture because around the world, agriculture has a strong track record of providing an effective pathway out of poverty—of giving poor people an opportunity to live a healthy, productive life”, says Mr. Oenga, the founder of PCF.

As it were, the need for small holder farmers to become more productive, using sustainable approaches that respect limits on natural resources and the need to preserve biodiversity and fragile ecosystems, is key to ensuring their success in a sustainable manner.

They also lack access to market opportunities that can support investments in better inputs, tools, and farming practices. In addition, climate change is steadily adding new challenges.PCF also believes that economic progress of African countries has the potential of being substantially farmer-led.

This is especially true in rural areas where agriculture is pervasive. Besides, it must be noted that agriculture still employs over 70% of the economies in African countries such as Kenya. Combine this with the fact that the youth constitute over 60% of the economy and the incredible economic take off Kenya and other African countries can experience if these two components; youth and agriculture be synergistically incorporated into the economy. It would be phenomenal.

Due to the natural synchronization of other areas with agriculture, PCF has expanded its thematic areas of operation to include; Environmental Conservation, Child, Youth and Adult Empowerment, Community Systems Support and Human Rights.

As such PCF activities include agribusiness, Love Nature Youth Hikes, Child protection and environmental clubs in schools, Reproductive Health activities, Promoting, Gender Equality, Human Rights monitoring and follow ups, Advocacy and Policy Influencing Programs, Blue Economy Program, Capacity building and behavior change programs, Establishing youth Groups in different areas in Migori County.Pillars Care Foundation has achieved quite a bit of milestones in the last four years of it operations.

Broadly in Agriculture, it trained over 100 Farmer Groups trained in organic farming and Cooperatives formation. Formation of farmer cooperatives will be key to raising productivity and profitability of farming. In 2020 over 30,000 trees planted round Migori County, Kenya. Three hundred (300) Youths were trained under child protection project on both COVID19 prevention and Child Labor avoidance.

PCF supports the community where it is through Community Systems Support. In this regard, the 2022 Digital Literacy Program has, so far trained 70 youths in Digital Literacy and Computer competence.

Like elsewhere, COVID19 hampered project implementation for PCF. There is also so much need for the services that PCF offers but there are limited resources to sustain gained results especially in the face of changing trend of partners in maintaining the gained results.To achieve its aims, PCF has had both partners both locally and internationally.

The international partners include; Kerk in Actie , Bakersfield Family island, Ambio Global LLC, Empire for The youths, Orange Women International, Souls of Our Soils Agribusiness & Cultural Exchange Fellowship, Unity weekly Interpersonal Bible Study among others.

Locally, it partners with County Government of Migori, Kenya; the national government through the Provincial Administration; The Kenyan Ministry of Education; other Civil Society Organizations, Faith Based Organizations, and Non-Governmental OrganizationsPCF aspires to do even more. As Mr. Oenga puts it ‘PCF desires to have more impact, outcomes, activities, and partnerships…more difference to be made’. It aspires to reach in and reach out to have a positive lasting and sustainable impact in the society.