The Effects of Tobacco Growing for Kenya

My husband and I traveled to West Virginia over Labor Day weekend and went to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine in the southern part of the state called, you guessed it, Beckley. I highly recommend the museum to anyone who has the chance to go. It offers a chance to learn a bit about the past of the U.S., and the history of what some might now call an energy crisis that we are now experiencing.

When we arrived at the exhibition, we bought a ticket to take a train down into a once-active coal mine. We had about an hour to kill before the next train left the station, so we had the opportunity to look through the museum. It was an impressive and comprehensive monument in honor of the way coal miners and their families worked, lived, and died here in the States a hundred years ago.

I found myself quickly overcome with emotion. The folks who did the hard labor in coalmines were completely and utterly exploited. They were treated like indentured servants. They were put in a position where they and their family’s lives were at risk on a daily basis and the combination of camp life and its expenditures and their financial compensation was such that they literally had no way out.

It reminded me of the lives of the people in Kuria…and that the more things change, truly, the more they stay the same. Coal and big coal companies are to West Virginia a hundred years ago what tobacco and big tobacco companies were to Kuria a couple of years ago. The people of Kuria were growing tobacco on their farms in an unsustainable way that was causing their families to be sick and also causing them to lead financially intractable lives.

It is our strong hope and goal that the work of Nuru has sustainably brought and end to this exploitation.

Once again, I have reported on a side note this week.

Next week, however, you’ll have a treat, as Stephanie Jayne, our Senior Research Officer will report here on the current state of our Measurement and Evaluation System Overhaul. As you all know, it is our hope that we are able to objectively measure way the lives of the people of Kuria have changed since we arrived there of years ago. Essentially, we want to have a system that can tell us whether the exploitation I’ve mentioned above has truly come to a sustainable end in Kuria. Very difficult to determine, of course. She will fill you in on where we are in that process.

 

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