Straw to Bread’s efforts in farming are made possible by the intelligence, kindness, and strength of Charles Tei. Charles is a local agricultural expert who received a diploma in agriculture after two years of study in Kenya. For several years, he has volunteered his time to help guide, execute, and lead the various Straw to Bread efforts in agriculture. In 2009, he helped lead the tree planting effort, hiking hundreds of kilometers to every BH member home. In 2012, he was instrumental in conceiving the Bethlehem Home Kuoko Academy Garden. That summer, he managed the construction of that garden, and he continues to monitor its success throughout the year. Charles farms his own land on the lower slopes of the plateau where he lives with his wife and children. His work ethic, education, and leadership continue to form the base of Straw to Bread’s efforts to increase food security for the members of Bethlehem Home.
While a University Scholar in the Honors Program at Baylor University, Jake first started working on farming projectswith Bethlehem Home in 2009 when he joined Baylor alum Laura Swenk in the first Straw to Bread fruit tree-planting project. In subsequent years, Jake has led Baylor students and others in more fruit tree and vegetable-planting projects. He co-authored the proposal that led to the creation of the Bethlehem Home Kuoko Academy Garden in 2012. That same year, Jake returned for the fourth time to Kenya and lived there for seven weeks where he led a team of local student translators and several Baylor students to execute a large agricultural research project. Throughout 2013, Jake and his research partner, Danny Nassar, will be working with Baylor nutritional anthropologist, Dr. Sarah Alexander, to analyze that data to prepare for future farming projects to benefit Bethlehem Home. Jake hopes to continue working with Bethlehem Home and Straw to Bread on farming projects in the future. Jake is currently a Master of Divinity student at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Daniel is a senior biology major who is enrolled in the Honors Program at Baylor University. His academic interests include public health, pulmonary medicine, infectious disease, botany, and general research design. Daniel has been working with Straw to Bread since May 2011. During his first journey to Kenya with Straw to Bread, he collected data for his Honors Thesis, which was defended and presented in May of the following year. His thesis was a pilot study focused on the effects of household asthma triggers on the lung function of asthmatic patients on the Nyakach Plateau. Part of the data for Daniel’s thesis was collected using a portable spirometer which has since been integrated into the diagnostic tools available for use in the clinic. Due to his previous interest in botany and agriculture, Daniel became involved in agroecological projects with his research partner, Jake Abell, before his second visit to the Nyakach in 2012. In preparation for one of the research projects that he and Jake were working on, Daniel presented a social enterprise pitch for the Bethlehem Home Kuoko Academy Garden at the 9th annual Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference. While working on this project and an in-depth, agroecological assessment of the Bethlehem Home Elders entitled “A Qualitative and Quantitative Agroecological Assessment of a Community in the Nyakach Region of Western Kenya” (QQAACN), Daniel and other researchers spent seven weeks in Kenya on the Nyakach Plateau in the summer of 2012. Daniel will continue learning more about agriculture on the plateau in hopes of improving the quality of life of the members of Bethlehem Home and the surrounding community.