all photos via Bobby Neptune
Every once and awhile you come across a person or a cause that is just so beautiful and real that you can't deny the awesomeness and you just have to tell everyone. That is definitely how I feel about Sarah and the brilliant Kula Project! Seeing all the amazing things they are doing has really just warmed my heart and I thought it was about time that I shared the Kula Project with you. It's an amazing non-profit, co-founded by Sarah, that helps small-scale farmers create sustainable communities in Rwanda. Awesome-sauce!!! It is such a wonderful cause that I wanted to do anything I could to get the word out. I asked Sarah to just answer a few questions to share with you all and she graciously obliged. I'm so honored to have her take the time to share with us her passion!!! She is truly inspiring!!! Read on!!!What inspired you to start the Kula Project? I went to Kenya with a dental team in 2009, and it was the first time that I saw true poverty. It wrecked me, so I come home and changed my major to focus on International Development. It was through my studies and further travels that I saw the link between agriculture and poverty. Agriculture wasn’t my driving passion, I was passionate about these children that I continued to see that weren't in school, that were malnourished, or children dying because their parents can't afford a $7 pill that would treat their malaria. I wanted to fix all of this, but I knew I couldn't do it, but that these kid's parents could, if they were simply given the opportunity. If I decided to work with small-scale farmers, I knew I can reach over 80% of the developing world, so that’s what I did.
What’s been the most exciting part about watching the Kula Project grow? I think when you start doing what I do, you have this big, gigantic picture of what your work will be, but you fail to realize that these are actual people you are trying to help with unique stories. So, now that we have been going for two years and in Rwanda for year, I have the enormous privilege to have relationships, friendships really, and I get to bring people into that. This fall, the families in our program will plant over 6,000 coffee and banana trees. 6,000! Those trees will make elementary school graduations and Sunday suppers possible. Moving forward, malaria will no longer be a death sentence because they will be able to afford the medicine and we get to be a part of all this!
What do you think would surprise people to find out about the work KP does? The people of the communities we work in are just as much involved in the program development process as we are. So often people go into countries with the best intentions of helping but end not providing what is needed because they never thought to ask, they just assumed they knew. We sit down with the families we work with to get their opinion, find out what they think their community needs, and we combine that input with the input of some local experts and develop the programs with that information.
For example, I had a laundry list tools I thought our farmers would need to implement this upcoming program. As I was reading the list, I realized no one was getting excited, which they usually do. Finally, JMV, one of our farmers, says, “You know, we really just need wheelbarrows with strong tires that can handle these hills.” I just laughed and nodded “okay, we’ll just go with wheelbarrows.”What’s next for the Kula Project? This November will be the biggest month of our organization thus far. We have worked for almost year building this program and it’s finally about to happen! Our farmers will start “intercropping plots” with coffee and banana trees. These plots will help protect their land from rising temperatures and diminishing rains while almost doubling their current family income.
How can people help? To make November happen, we need to raise $50,000 more dollars, so people can help by supporting one of our farmers. We like for people to be as much of a part of their lives and we are, so we do a pretty job at keeping people connected with the families they support. If you can’t give funds, buy some of our merchandise, or simply spread the word to people you think might be able to support our work.
I bought this awesome tank at the Kula Market and not only is it legit fabulous the money goes to the help this amazing cause! I also picked up Rocco his first For The Farmer onesie!! Go buy a shirt, a bow tie, some coffee, or heck, just go donate money!!! If you feel the least bit inclined to donate, don't hesitate, don't wait! If not now, when!? I'm so excited for what the future holds for the Kula Project! Get involved!!!