Geoffrey stepped out of the church building onto the dry, red soil, lifting his eyes to the sky. He had heard the stories of locust plagues, but his village hadn't witnessed such devastation in generations. A single father of two, he still recalls that moment with disbelief.
"We went out to see for ourselves. They looked like clouds covering the whole sky," he says.
In mid-February, his family's village in Kitui County, Kenya, was infested by a large swarm of locusts that destroyed all of the crops within one week. “We tried chasing them away by beating drums. They escaped for a while, but then came back and finished everything. Even the cows and goats had no pasture. All our food was eaten. They were here for a week and then they left. I would have harvested a lot of food to sell, but all that was gone,” says Geoffrey, whose 9-year-old daughter, Faith, and 20-year-old son, Vincent, are registered in Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program.
When the locusts left, the village struggled to recover. National restrictions due to COVID-19 made circumstances even more difficult.
But Compassion's local church partner provided for devastated families and supported them to start farming again. Geoffrey's family was given renewed hope as he was enabled to purchase food and start raising chickens.
“COVID-19 has made it difficult for many families, ours included, to make a living and get food,” says Geoffrey. “Locusts destroyed our crops, COVID-19 restricted our livelihoods. So, I decided to rear chickens to help me with food and income. I started with two hens and they were able to grow to 60, and I've now sold 30 chickens. They have enabled me to pay school fees and feed my family.”
Geoffrey's family, along with other Compassion-assisted children and their families, have joined an existing registered group of farmers, providing each other with more food options. “Whenever I visit the other Compassion-assisted families, I always come back with some vegetables and other crops,” says Geoffrey.
Pastor Simon, from Compassion’s partner church, is hopeful for restoration. “We keep praying to God our Maker. We know we are going to recover all that has been lost.”