Veronica worked as a teacher most of her life. For two years now, she has worked as a technician at Sistema.bio, a job that has allowed her to explore her passion for justice, sustainability and community. Now a true environmental activist, her impact goes way beyond the installment of biodigesters.
She grew up on her parents’ farm in Kericho, and became a teacher at the primary level in 2005. When Sistema.bio arrived in Kericho to start a project, she was impressed by the level of impact our biodigesters had both on the environment and in people’s lives. She joined our team in 2018 and never looked back.
Now she has her own farm, which she tends to with the help of her son and two daughters. Her eldest daughter wants to become an engineer, her youngest a doctor —and her son wants to join her mother in changing the world one biodigester at a time. When she’s not working or tending to her farm, she’s lobbying with her neighbours, advocating for local reforestation and sustainable practices. “I’m now an environmental activist, which I wasn’t before. I’ve planted quite a number of trees in my home area and lobbied my neighbours to do the same. It has really changed people’s lives and way of thinking,” she tells us.
Over the past two years Veronica has gathered quite a lot of memories, but her favorite ones are those involving farmers. One she’ll remember forever is her trip to South Sudan, where she had the opportunity not only to meet a new culture, but also to challenge their notions of gendered tasks. “It was an epic assignment. The culture and norms over there are very different to ours, and seeing a woman do the hard work was quite out of the order. That’s something that really impressed me,” she tells us.
For a long time now we have been looking closely at women’s roles in agriculture, a task that keeps surprising us and transforming our views not only of gender equality, but also of the relevance of women’s labour and input in societies, both urban and rural. Our female sales agents and technicians have been instrumental in the changing of our mindset, bringing back invaluable feedback from their daily assignments and their interaction with the farming families we work with.
As it happens, each person that makes up the Sistema.bio team has a wide array of tasks and responsibilities. Sales agents sell biodigesters, yes, but they also educate farmers on clean technologies and circular economies. Technicians, on the other hand, are not only in charge of installing our systems but also of training farmers on biodigester use and maintenance. And this is where we find one of the many aspects where Veronica brings a little extra to the table: her long experience as a teacher allows her to connect with her clients and explain at depth how biodigesters work. It is because of those interactions that Veronica does what she does: “After completing a job, the impression I get from the clients, it truly touches my heart. It’s really something that gives me the morale to work even harder.”
To Veronica, as well as to the rest of the Sistema.bio team, working directly with farmers is the most important part of what we do. Because our goal goes far beyond providing them with renewable energy: we want each farmer to know how much we need them, how much we value their work and how much of an impact they can have by switching to organic, sustainable practices.
Farming has always been a part of Veronica’s life, which allows her to understand the needs of farmers as well as the impact that traditional farming has on the environment. That is why, when she first heard about Sistema.bio, she immediately saw the core of our work: sustainability. For her, biodigesters provide farmers with more than renewable energy: they allow farmers to improve their economies by cutting costs and enhancing farm productivity while also giving them a tool for renewing their soils and enriching the health of their families. Biodigesters are vehicles of change, allowing each farmer to re-invent the way they relate to their farms, their animals and their environment. It gives them new opportunities to live harmoniously: “Sustainable practices improve the quality of human lives while allowing us to live in harmony environmentally, socially and economically,” Veronica tells us.
Through her work as well as her local activism, Veronica wishes to contribute to the building of a world free of waste, one where all resources are recycled and repurposed. Two years ago she started a new chapter in her life, one that has opened her eyes to the many aspects of environmental care. And it is a chapter that she hopes will go on for a long time, perhaps the rest of her life: “In the future I want to keep working as an environmental activist. I want to see the fruits of my work.”
As for now, Veronica will keep working with farmers as well as with her neighbors, her friends and family members, toward a sustainable world. She will keep sharing her knowledge, encouraging people to plant trees and recycle. She will continue to invite more people to join the movement, to create their own value from waste.
Text by Elena Coll | Art by Brianda Suárez | Edited by Montserrat Cortez & Xunaxi Cruz