65km from Nairobi, in a small village called Mang’u, on a beautiful farm; we meet Wambui. Tall, graceful, confident, with a sprinkle of lovely dimples; a woman with a big heart. Right from the entrance of her family farm, we are met with a young girl, a teetering toddler in tow. You see, 15 years ago, Wambui and her sister Salome opened up their family home to orphaned children from the area. The home grew fast, as more and more children found a home and a haven on their farm. Wambui had to lobby in well-wishers to help her construct a proper children’s home to accommodate all these children; that is how Familia Moja Children’s Home was born.
Wambui, or Wambo, as she is fondly referred to around the home, says that the fulfillment she got from seeing the children grow and thrive was sublime. Then came the first big problem, how was she going to feed the now over one hundred children at the home and the fifteen or so people living in the farmhouse? Asking for handouts from well-wishers was not sustainable. The two sisters had to think of a long-lasting solution; fast! They had long late-night brainstorming sessions, and all the solutions they came up with needed money; something they were short of at that moment.
The eureka moment finally came, and the solution they were looking for had been right in front of them all along. You see, Wambui’s parents raised her and her eleven siblings on this very farm, and managed to feed them and see them all through school without any extra income. All they had was this farm, their cows, and their chicken. The two sisters agreed that if their parents before them had done it, they could certainly do it too. They had the land, and they had a variety of farm animals ranging from cows, goats, pigs, chickens, and even turkeys. They worked out a plan and immediately started working on the farm, planting their food and vegetables and looking after their farm animals. They could now sell milk, eggs, and surplus fruits and vegetables from their farm, which enabled them to comfortably feed the children and supplement the proceeds they got from well-wishers and donors. The first problem was solved!
They had food for everyone, but what were they going to cook it with? Problem number two! LP gas prices have been steadily increasing in the country and the sisters were catching no breaks. Wambui says that the 13kg LP gas cylinder could barely last them 3 days; you do the math! They then resorted to cooking with charcoal and firewood, which brought about all manners of respiratory infections, especially for the younger and sickly kids. This was not sustainable. Again, they need a solution.
Ever the problem solver, Wambui went online and looked up possible solutions for this issue; with her key search words being affordable, sustainable, and clean cooking options. It is here that she discovered the biogas world and she knew right away that that was the solution they had been looking for all along. She then started looking up contacts for people to install the system on her farm. As luck would have it, she chanced upon a ‘legit biogas dealer’, they had a little chat, and he promised her that he knew what he was doing. She believed him. And so started her tumultuous journey with this ‘legit biogas dealer’. She was conned a lot of money, and the system installed for her was inoperable
As luck would have it, one of Wambui’s neighbors had a Sistema.bio digester, and she was intrigued. She invited Peter, one of Sistema.bio’s sales managers, together with someone from the technical team and they patiently took her and her sister through the whole process. They assessed her farm, the number of animals she had, her cooking fuel needs, etc; and advised her to take a Sistem 20. The sales manager helped her calculate her monthly spending on gas, charcoal, and firewood, and it was a bit shocking to see it on the full display even though she already had an idea of how high they were. Peter then worked out an affordable payment plan for her, and she was relieved to see that her monthly payments would even be lower than her monthly spending on cooking fuel.
When her system was finally operational, Wambui went from purchasing 52kgs of LP gas every month at a total cost of KES 68000, to enjoying between 10 and 13 hours of cooking time with her biogas; an equivalent of 86kgs of LP gas per month. This has saved her at least KES 100,000 every month, which goes into catering to other needs of her family and the children in the home.
She no longer has to buy chemical fertilizers, as she collects between 400 and 540 liters of biofertilizer in a day (40 to 54 buckets). She says that she has seen tremendous improvement in her harvests from using the bioslurry, and she is now able to feed all the children and workers, as well as supply fruits and vegetables in her local market.
The number of children in the home has increased quite rapidly in the last few years, and the biogas produced in her farm can no longer sustain them. Wambui and her sister have once again approached a Sistema.bio Technician and from their needs assessment, they plan to install a Sistema.30 before the end of the year. This will ensure that they get 32 hours of cooking time a day, an equivalent of 210 kgs of Lp gas a month. They will also collect at least 1330 liters of biofertilizer a day. Wambui says that this will ensure that all the money they get for the home goes towards meeting the children’s needs and giving them a good education; instead of buying fuel and chemical fertilizers. As a parting shot, the two sisters recommend Sistema.bio digesters to all Kenyans; especially ambitious women who are in the agriculture sector.