Communications Manager, Azita Shamsolahi, spent a week in Kenya to shoot our new film, Alice & Agnes.  Here she reflects on her time there.

I didn’t know what to expect when I touched down in Kenya. Nairobi was the busy, bustling city I imagined it to be but western Kenya, the place where I would spend the next week, was unlike anything I’d ever seen.  

My colleague Ric and I travelled along dirt tracks to the small village of Atapara where we were welcomed by our hosts, Alice and her mother-in-law, Agnes. These two women were the reason for our entire trip. Their inspirational story of success, female empowerment and friendship was to be the focus of a short film.

They weren't living a life of luxury but they were happy

Straight away I could see the warmth and friendship between these two women. Together with Alice’s four-year-old daughter Starlet, they live on their small farm working together to grow their own food. Every day I would sit down with them and eat the freshest food I’ve ever had, most of it harvested from their fields that morning.

They weren’t living a life of luxury but they were happy.  Their house was a simple building with cement walls and a corrugated iron roof that rattled loudly when it rained. But they had the security of knowing where their next meal was coming from and were making enough money to send Starlet to school.

In the evenings I walked around their farm, collecting sound recordings for the film. It was the rainy season and the clouds created an incredibly grey and stormy backdrop against the green lushness of the fields. It was beautiful, almost ethereal, a million miles from my home in Bristol where I overlook a busy road.

Mother & Child

Alice and Agnes were even more intriguing and impressive than the landscape. Alice is beautiful, confident and smart; she speaks three languages fluently, including English. Agnes is strong, hardworking and respected; she’s the first female elder of her village and everyone looks up to her. I remember watching her chair a village meeting and feeling in awe.

Over the course of the week, we ate together, worked together in their kitchen and walked in the fields together. I was trying my best to understand their everyday lives and capturing it on film with my colleague and friend, Ric Rawlins, for the documentary. We’d seen something in Alice and Agnes’ story that we felt would prove inspirational – and raise awareness for Send a Cow’s new campaign, the Mother & Child appeal. The campaign is a huge opportunity for the charity because it has the support of the UK Government, who are doubling all donations before 31 December.

This film is a homage, a celebration, of the incredible women 

As the days passed, we didn’t just collect their stories, I shared mine with them too. They asked me about the weather, marriage, things people do for fun in the UK. By far the most difficult questions were around food– was it difficult to come by, where did we get it, what could we eat? I felt almost embarrassed explaining that obesity was a more serious issue in the UK rather than a lack of food.

I left Kenya promising one day to return. When I do, I hope to see Starlet excelling at school, Agnes still leading her meetings and Alice fulfilling her dreams of being a nurse. In the meantime, this film is a homage, a celebration, of the incredible women farmers of Africa who continue to inspire me in my job at Send a Cow. When we eventually finished the film, only one title seemed suitable: Alice & Agnes. The two women who had brought me to this beautiful corner of rural Kenya. 

Watch Alice & Agnes