EPN Second Annual Little Rock University Scholarship Program Fund Drive

Last year’s university bound scholars

Last year’s university bound scholars

KIbera, the largest urban slum in Kenya

KIbera, the largest urban slum in Kenya

As you may recall, Kibera is the largest urban slum in Kenya. Living conditions there are horrendous - severe overcrowding, no running water, raw sewage in open trenches. There is a pervasive sense of hopelessness.  I have walked through Kibera. I have seen it firsthand. I sat with a family in their home and learned about their lives. That's why I am so eager to do my small part to help.  Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Education Centre, on the other hand, is an oasis for the disadvantaged children of Kibera, providing a host of programs that give the kids a chance at education and a better life

Little Rock Inclusive ECD Centre

Little Rock Inclusive ECD Centre

Last year, we raised the entrance fees to send the first class of Little Rock Scholars to University.  Our program was successful and you can see updates on the by browsing the updates in last year’s fundraiser site.  The students are succeeding at universities, committed to contributing to their community, and very grateful for our help.  Without Little Rock and your help, these students would be on the streets struggling to survive. Because of your support, they are in universities around Kenya, learning skills to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. It is amazing. Thank you again for your help.

This year, ten Little Rock Scholars graduated from secondary school and qualified for university in Kenya.  Recall from last year that the Kenyan government, via it’s HELB program, will fund nearly an entire university education for deserving students.  These students must only pay the required entrance fees which amount to $500 per student.  Unfortunately, for these students from Kibera, that money is out of reach. EPN, through this program, is looking to fill that gap.  For $5000, we can change these ten deserving students’ lives by giving them the gift of a university education.

On March 26, we will launch this year’s fundraiser, introducing the students as we did last year.  Please look out for our email and posts next week, and please help if you can.  We know our program works.  Thanks for your help.  And if you can’t wait for next week, you can always donate here and your contribution will be included in our fundraising totals. 

Thanks! Sam Falk

More is better!

Another major priority of our trip to Niger was exploring opportunities for expansion.  Currently, there are 18 Farmers of the Future sites and we are eager to grow.  Each new site provides an opportunity to lift another community out of poverty.  But sites also serve as showcases for the power of the FOF concept.  After visiting our gardens, municipalities and development organizations are beginning to approach us and ask us to participate in their projects.   Our reputation is growing!  Here’s a great example of how momentum builds. 

Proud Farmers of the Future

Proud Farmers of the Future

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (a US-funded global development organization) recently granted the government of Niger the hefty sum of $437mm for agricultural development.  The money has been divided among several initiatives, including promoting irrigated vegetable production.  Right up our alley! 

One of the municipalities targeted for development is N’Dounga.  It borders on Liboré, where our 5 original sites are located.  Officials of N’Dounga have been impressed with Farmers of the Future and with LIBO, our local partner.  So, as they receive $3mm of MCC money for agricultural development, they are turning to LIBO for advice.  Eleven promising sites have been identified, ranging in size from 3 hectares (7 acres) to a staggering 60 hectares (148 acres!).  We will suggest developing those sites along FOF principles and providing technical support for at least several of them.  In addition to expanding FOF’s reach, these sites would provide an opportunity to show MCC the power of our concept.  And developing credibility within the Millennium Challenge Corporation would be huge!!

Planning will take place over the next several months.  We’ll share progress in upcoming posts. 

Stay tuned!

Formidable!

That’s French for “wonderful” and it’s the best word to describe our latest visit to Niger.  Of course, every trip to Africa has been hugely productive.  But “formidable!!” was our rallying cry this time around.   Here’s why.

 A top priority for the trip was to continue detailed planning for the Professor Dov Pasternak Horticultural Training Center.  Formal government approval is required to open a new center.  So, after submitting an application, a government official comes out to inspect the proposed site.  He happened to visit the week we were there, and when he entered our new conference room, we overheard him whisper to himself: “formidable!”  And it is.  It’s probably one of the nicest conference rooms in Niger.

 Our goal is to establish the Dov Pasternak Center as the pre-eminent horticultural training center in West Africa.  Every aspect of it –classroom facilities, teaching staff, hands-on learning experiences – must be “formidable!”  Our center will emphasize practical, proven techniques to boost farmer income and establish self-sustaining farm cooperatives.  Of course, we will draw on best practices in horticulture from Niger and around the world.  But we will also teach strategies to maximize profits, methods to create effective cooperative organizations, and tools and techniques to insure rural (often illiterate) farmers understand and retain the knowledge.  No one else is attempting anything so comprehensive.

We had productive meetings with potential funders of the school and lengthy internal work sessions to sharpen overall objectives and continue detailed planning of the curriculum.  We’re targeting a “soft launch” of the center before the year is out.

 The training center was only one of several areas of focus for the trip.  More to come in the next post.

The conference room at the Training Center dedicated to Dov Pasternak’s memory

The conference room at the Training Center dedicated to Dov Pasternak’s memory

Off to Africa!

Hi All.  John here.  Helen Greenberg, EPN Director of Operations, and I are leaving for Niger on January 14th for a 10-day trip to continue scaling Farmers of the Future.  We’ll be joined by Robin Mednick, president of Pencils for Kids, the wonderful Canadian NGO that has co-funded the project with us for the last 9 years. 

Working closely with our Nigerien partner LIBO, we’ve organized an ambitious agenda around opening new Farmers of the Future sites, furthering plans for the Dov Pasternak Horticultural Training Center, and exploring opportunities with major international funders like the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corporation.  Along the way, we’ll visit current and prospective sites and continue building support for the program at senior levels of government.  Should be a great trip!

We’ll share results in future posts so stay tuned.

John

See the beautiful gardens of Izawitan!

In 2017, Farmers of the Future received a major grant from USAID. This infusion of funds allowed us to double the footprint of the program, expanding to 5 new sites and 12 new women's associations. The women are putting the new farming techniques learned from FOF training to good use, resulting in lush gardens, high productivity, and the ability to earn a living wage. Now they are able to support their families in a way that was not previously possible.

Beautiful flourishing gardens

Beautiful flourishing gardens

Proud farmer

Proud farmer

John Craig visits Toronto

John Craig, Eliminate Poverty NOW's president and founder, recently visited Toronto, Canada. He was graciously hosted by Robin Mednick the President and Executive Director of Pencils4Kids, our charity partner for Farmers of the Future in Niger. Click here to check out the good work they are also doing.

John and Robin attended  meetings with key donors and P4K board members. They were heartily welcomed by all.

One of the evenings John spoke to a gathering of folks interested in hearing all about Farmers of the Future. He talked about the strides that Eliminate Poverty NOW and Pencils4Kids are making in cooperation with LIBO (a local to Niger NGO) working mostly with women and girls. They are being taught to farm their own land to evolve from subsistence farmers to profitable business people.

 

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Robin Mednick 

 

President and Executive Director 

PENCILS4KIDS

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John Craig

Founder and President

Eliminate Poverty NOW

Dedication to the late Dov Pasternak

Recently, Eliminate Poverty NOW's president, John Craig, spoke at a parlor meeting dedicated to the life and legacy of the late Dov Pasternak, Farmers of the Future visionary. He talked of Dov's dedication to improving the lives of so many in Niger - changing their futures by teaching them to approach farming as a business. Watch the video below to hear in his own words how Farmers of the Future began in Niger.  The video was shot in 2014 during Farmers of the Future's pilot phase.  Today we are in 18 sites and looking to double again in the next 2-3 years as we begin to scale the program.

Sad News - Dov Pasternak passed away

Dov Pasternak, the father of Farmers of the Future, died on Friday, April 27, 2018 in Israel.  His passing is a huge loss for Eliminate Poverty NOW, for Pencils for Kids, for Africa and the world.

Dov was a visionary, teacher, mentor, inspirational leader and friend.  So much of our philosophy and approach to agricultural development comes directly from him.  He devoted his life to growing crops in the most challenging places and teaching farmers to make a good living from their sweat and toil.  Dov taught us that every obstacle is an opportunity to learn, that every problem has at least 3 solutions, that with patience and perseverance almost anything is possible, and most importantly, “to never, ever give up!”

Dov was passionate, intense, and held strong opinions about things he believed in. He wanted things done right and done quickly so that progress could be made. He was also warm-hearted, funny, humble to a fault, an excellent listener, quick to forgive, and quick to change his mind when something else made more sense.  He was wise beyond words and a delight to work with.

In the last year Dov was given a lifetime achievement award for his impact on the lives of people in Africa.  His work has benefited hundreds of thousands.  He has been, and will always be, a role model for how to make a real difference in this world.  To say he will be sorely missed does not begin to capture the loss we feel.

Dov viewed Farmers of the Future as the culmination of his 50+ years of work in agricultural development.  We are committed to ensure his dream of transforming agricultural practice in Africa is realized.  We will never, ever give up!

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Poster that hung in Dov's office -  the motto he lived by