Let There Be Rain

“If I were rain, That joins sky and earth that otherwise never touch, Could I join two hearts as well?”

- Tite Kuto

I remember well the day that we received a message of dire weather from our friends in Kenya. We often do not know why or how a particular memory stays with us long after the actual event or conversation. I do not know why this particular message stuck with me. I only know that it did and it has and it will, to this day and evermore.

“ If I were rain, That joins sky and earth that otherwise never touch, Could I join two hearts as well?” - Tite Kuto

It is with vivid clarity that I recall this message that portended incomprehensible hardship for our farm friends, if rain did not fall within the week. This message predicted hunger for many farmers around Mama Ada’s own farm, as the days without rain had turned into weeks. While reading that message my head spun around, as last I’d heard their weather had been “okay.” Yet suddenly, it seemed that disaster loomed.

This has been part of our experience knowing friends in Kenya; all can be well one day and in the blink of a week or two, suddenly their crops are in grave danger. Quite quickly everything can change for our friends, depending on the weather – their food security, their homes, their education possibilities – the foundation of their very lives trembles beneath them. Just yesterday, we received a joyful message from our friend in Kenya, Joel Sawe. He was literally looking to the skies at rain clouds and listening for thunder on the horizon. In some ways, we’ve become accustomed to this roller coaster of sorts, just as our friends live with this uncertainty day in and day out.

When I read these messages, I am often sitting in my home in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. These messages beckon from far away, as I am running to Target and having coffee at Starbuck’s, asking that we all consider climate change as something more than an intellectual debate to be had during dinner parties or an interesting subject of editorials in the New York Times. These messages can serve as a call to understand more of people’s daily lives in other places – not as an abstraction but as a current, difficult reality. Two-thirds of Kenyans depend on the crops they grow and the animals they keep for their livelihoods; their lives are intimately connected to the soil and the rain or lack of.

It gives us great joy to bring a team of agriculture experts to our friends’ farms in August – to walk the fields and to dream of something different. To dream of a way that offers our friends greater food security and make it so uncertainties rock their world less week to week. And yet, even as we are hopeful there are solutions to Kenyan farmers’ increasing difficulties due to weather variability, we also salute our friends’ tenacity and determination to carry on with a beautiful courage that takes our breath away.

And now, we echo Joel’s words from yesterday, “Let there be rain!”.

- Julie Keller