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11/27: French Beans on Saturdays

Usually on Saturday morning I get up early, crash and bump my way the hour or so to the outskirts of Nairobi to the Indu Farms processing plant to pick up the vegetables for Mary’s place and for the several hundred orphans in Machakos. Then I crash and bump my way for another hour and a half or so with a bed piled high with blue crates full of produce, mostly French beans, sugar snaps, and snow peas, to Machakos.

I drop some off at Springs of Hope, Mary’s place, then take the bulk to a Presbyterian church across town, pick up the empty crates from last time, and take them back to Mary’s. If the kids are outside, I get crawled over, tugged at, hugged on, Gulliver-style, visit with Mary and Laura, maybe have some lunch, and then crash and bump my way back home to Lukenya.

But last Saturday I was very late with the delivery, and got to Mary’s about 4:30 pm. As odd as it might seem, I had never really seen the distribution of the vegetables. I was always long gone by the time it happened. But this Saturday afternoon, everyone had gathered and the routine, anonymous vegetable drop became a face-to-face encounter with the beneficiaries.

Every child here is either a double orphan (both parents gone), a single orphan, in a child-headed household, or has been identified as being seriously at risk [absent, abusive or extremely neglectful parent(s)], each has been registered and his/her situation documented.

This is the Reverend, who is a wonderful man and works at Mary’s, with formal documentation for one of the kids.

Each adult present is the guardian (often the grandmother) of one or more of the orphans, and is given the vegetables only if the child is present. These measures are necessary, of course, to insure that the neediest get the food.

Everyone brings a bag or a basket and gets about 2 kilos, about 4.5 pounds, of beans and peas. Sometimes there are passion fruits and avocados as well.

This little one got her bag filled

and held on tight after that

a basket full of food

When I got to the church there were two or three hundred people waiting, and when I drove slowly in, everyone started cheering and clapping. It was a little embarrassing and a lot overwhelming. They had been waiting for a while and let loose when the goods arrived.

My usual in-and-out-no-one-there vegetable drop off had become something quite different for me. Children, faces, bags, excitement… a clearer picture. I didn’t get any photos of the real good commotion, but did manage these after things settled a little.

Some of the guardians of the miniature hordes

The line formed

and quickly circled the church

I had plenty of help unloading

today there was also rice to give away

These two guys stepped up and took care of the unloading

The difference for me

He had just finished his long walk here as I was pulling out.

Some things to think about the next time you see a French bean.

Yours for clearer perspectives,



  1. Peggy says

    Wow! This makes it so real for all of us!
    Thanks David for the driving, for sharing, and for being there.

  2. Greg Traverso says

    Incredible David

  3. carol zeiter says

    Makes our Thanksgiving seem “over the top,” not to mention our daily meals we so take for granted. Great pictures and story…

  4. martin says

    staggering — it never really sank in like this. even seeing mary’s kids eating the passion fruit on the spot… somehow it still didn’t resonate as it just did seeing these photos. these are lives directly affected. real results, from *your* hard work.

    and i’m glad they ambushed you with a much-deserved round of applause — there’s no wriggling away from the credit when you’re caught green-handed.

  5. Brette says


    I have worked for a huge Los Angeles Produce Distributer for the last three years…my job pales in comparison to your deliveries and “customers”. Incredible pictures, wonderful work, and BEAUTIFUL BEANS!

    …almost as beautiful as the children…

  6. David says

    Hi Brette,

    We can always use another green thumb here. And the “customers” here can’t be beat. Al and Dave are coming for Christmas. Hope to see you then. Best to your folks and brothers.



  7. rhonda jones says

    David – I think of you often and your unselfish kindness. Thank you so much for your continued updates and photos (which tell their own, sometimes, very sad story.) What a wonderful blessing you are to all whose path you cross.

    Happy holidays to you David

  8. Amy says

    Thanks for reminding me how blessed the kids and I really are. I am humbled by your work. I love you, See you soon.

  9. David says

    Hi Rhonda,

    Great to hear from you. I hope all is well and that you are happy and healthy. I’ll be interested to talk about the beehives and a couple of other things related to the project. Thanks for your steady interest and support.

    Best to your husband and Happy Holidays.


  10. David says

    Hi Sweetie,

    The best part of all of it is being with you and the kids. Can’t wait to decorate and get ready for Christmas

    .You have all my love,


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