Stories from Winners of our Prize Trip to Kenya

Organics 4 Orphans

Table of Contents

As you may know, Natural Calm is a social enterprise with a mission to end extreme poverty. Profits from sales fund the charity we founded, Thrive for Good (formerly Organics 4 Orphans).

Over the years, we have introduced people from our Natural Calm world to our work in Africa by sponsoring prize trips. Winners of these trips experience first-hand how Thrive is ending hidden hunger through training and equipping communities to grow what we call “Life Gardens”.

Here, we’re sharing stories from prize trip winners so that you can see the work through their eyes.

Read Lea’s Story of Visiting Africa with Thrive for Good

The following story was submitted by Lea Apostoleris of Purity Life, the company that distributes Natural Calm across Canada. In January 2017, Lea travelled to Kenya as one of the winners of the 2016 prize trip.  

Purity Life has always encouraged and enabled me to pursue my professional and personal goals. Because of Purity Life and Natural Calm Canada, I was recently able to fulfil a lifelong dream: to visit Africa. I was also lucky to do it with a fellow retailer, who is now a close friend, from Corn Crib Natural Foods in Saint John.

Africa has been on my bucket list for years…

social enterprise in Kitale, Kenya

This continent, so rich in natural resources, history, culture, and beauty, has always called to me in a way I find hard to express. I had spent countless hours perusing websites promoting aid missions, fundraising initiatives, and sponsorship opportunities for this broken continent, but they always failed to convince me that my investment would actually make a difference.

Then I met Dale and Linda Bolton of Natural Calm Canada and learned about how the company is not only helping countless Canadians with their patented ionic magnesium product but are also working to end extreme poverty. Sounds like a pretty big order, eh?

Some might even go as far as to say it’s nothing but a pipe dream.

How can we possibly end extreme poverty?

Lea Apostoleris Purity Life with Organics 4 Orphans

I wanted to see for myself what this company was all about. I wanted to know how our selling an already-amazing product could actually provide an answer to a problem this world has been struggling with for years.

So I went. And I saw. And I’m here to tell you—every person who reads this—that you are part of the solution, and it’s not that hard.

Dale and Linda founded Thrive for Good (formerly Organics 4 Orphans) ten years ago. They have taken the “Let food be thy medicine” message to a place that needs it the most.

They started a school in Kitale, Kenya, to teach just that.

O4O in Kenya school

I thought I knew what I had signed up for. But it wasn’t until I arrived and got to tour their school, meet their students, and listen to their stories that I was really able to see the change we can all be a part of by supporting Natural Calm and
those living in extreme poverty with proper nutrition, education—and repetition.

How many times do we as educators have to drill into someone’s head that sugar is bad and greens are good? It is no different in Africa; however, in conditions of extreme poverty, it’s a matter of life and death.

Thrive for Good works with small-scale farmers, focusing on four goals: food security, nutritional education, disease prevention, and income generation.

O4O school in Kitale Kenya

For one month, four times a year for two years, students learn about gardening, proper nutrition, and healing herbs in the first year.

In the second year, they continue to learn about nutrition as well as community development, time management, and income generation.

Back in their villages, the students do the practical work of getting people to commit to investing their time in maintaining a green-based garden.

Once an agreement is reached with that village, Thrive provides them with seeds, tools, and, most importantly, a course on composting, bringing the soil to life, crop rotation, seed drying, and the importance of growing nutrient-dense foods
to fight and prevent disease. This also generates income for the community when they sell their surplus vegetables.

When the students graduate, they receive compensation for each garden they successfully set up, thereby creating yet another income source!

Currently, Thrive has projects in prisons, villages, schools, slums, and surrounding African countries. Next, they have their sights set on refugee camps and India!

Let Food Be Our Medicine

Organics 4 Orphans green nutrition

The opportunities are endless, and you can even implement them right here at home. Although we do not experience anything close to what those in extreme poverty experience, we are still in desperate need of education on getting back to the land—to the soil, and letting food be our medicine.

I find it quite ironic that I had to travel all the way to Africa to learn the best way to plant a garden!

In a place where the world’s resources are the richest, its citizens are among the world’s poorest.

Where medicinal plants such as Artemisia (wormwood) and Moringa grow in the ditches, most people suffer yearly from malaria and malnutrition, cholera, and typhoid.

Where the growing season for healthful fruits and veggies is twelve months a year, people starve. This does not have to be.

Lea Apostoleris Purity Life Kenya Trip

Now more than ever it is so important to keep organizations such as Thrive going.

The EU has declared Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Ethiopia to be in a crisis of extreme famine right now! One garden with one water well per community can literally fix this problem. I have seen it happen! And I have also seen what it looks like when it doesn’t happen.

I choose hope. I choose to donate my money to organizations such as O4O rather than sponsorships or dead aid. “Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for life.” That old proverb still rings true.

Do yourself a favour and open your eyes to how the other half lives, then reach into your heart and ask yourself what you can do to help. Natural Calm has made it easy for each one of us to effect change.

Read Nic’s Story of Visiting Thrive for Good

The following story was submitted by Nic Soontiens, winner of Natural Calm’s 2016 Trip to Africa Contest. Nic is an infantry officer with the Canadian Armed Forces. He lives in the Kemptville area with his wife Jules and their children.

When my 11-year-old daughter and I popped into Nature’s Way Select Foods & Brewing Supplies in Kemptville, never would we have imagined that we would walk out of the store with a FREE TRIP TO AFRICA!

Well, we didn’t exactly know that we had won a trip until several months later but to this day we still think, “what are the chances!?”

Nature’s Way was having a customer appreciation day in 2016 when my daughter and I stopped in to pick up some items for the pantry as we had just moved to the area a short time prior. Seeing the store decorated with banners and balloons and various door prizes to be won certainly got our attention.

As we nibbled on free samples here, filled out some ballets there, we noticed this one eye-catching enticement: “Win a Trip for 2 to Kenya, Africa!”, sponsored by Natural Calm Canada. I filled out a ballot and having secured our groceries, we went on our merry way.

Several months later we received a call from the Natural Calm Canada head office indicating that I had won the national grand prize: a trip for two to Kitale, Kenya, including a safari!

After my immediate interrogation of the poor woman on the other end of the phone to confirm this was not a scam and that I did not actually have to give her my credit card number, I was dumbfounded and over the moon all in one!

That one phone call started a chain of events that brought us to the amazing continent of Africa, on a trip that my wife Jules and I will not soon forget.

Dale and Linda Bolton are the co-owners of Natural Calm Canada and every so often, they sponsor a trip such as the one that we were a part of. One of the reasons they do this is to raise awareness of the non-profit organization they founded called Organics4Orphans (now Thrive for Good), funded by the proceeds from Natural Calm.

Thrive has one lofty goal: to end extreme poverty. They’re achieving that goal by training and equipping people to grow an abundance of nutrient-dense, organic foods, sustainably.

Jules and Nic Soontiens Organics 4 Orphans
Jules and Nic Soontiens

With the opportunity to participate in a hands-on way during our trip to Kenya, Jules and I saw the direct impact that Thrive was having overseas, and as I scrutinized the model that they are using to achieve their one goal, I remember thinking that it just makes so much sense!

Thrive has a training school in Kitale, Kenya where they teach students, young and old, how to grow organic food at low cost. Those graduates then work with others in their respective communities to start up community gardens and build nutritional awareness to promote a whole foods diet. Also while at the training centre, the students learn about food security, income generation, and disease prevention.

the Soontiens in Kitale, Kenya
the Soontiens in Kitale, Kenya

As we got to visit several of these community garden projects and connect with the locals who were involved in growing their own food, even despite the harsh conditions of the dry season, it was clear that Thrive is having an impact.

The graduates teach the members of the community the skills they have learned and in so doing, the community members have nutritional food to eat and are able to grow healing, immune-building foods, and as a result, are healthier.

We saw this “win-win-win” model at work in particular at the Kitale Prison. This community garden project was started in the prison by a very special Kenyan girl named Joyce. She was only 19 when she started the prison garden project and at the time of our visit, it was an incredible thing to behold.

Because of Thrive, Kitale prisoners had something very positive with which to occupy their time in jail, and upon release, they had transferrable skills and the capacity to generate income. They were eating their own healthy, organic food, which meant lower food costs for the prison and fewer inmates at the infirmary.

After seeing the multi-faceted benefits of this particular project, Jules and I believed in the model that Dale and Linda are using to reach their goal of ending extreme poverty.

It was incredible to participate in this amazing journey where we saw once-sick people become healthy and rediscover a passion for the future. Jules and I still think about all the lives that Natural Calm through Thrive for Good has impacted…though we are not sure which lives were impacted more — theirs, or ours!

Inspired to help end hidden hunger and extreme poverty? Visit Thrive for Good to discover ways to give.

Get the best of the
Stay Calm blog sent to your inbox

From The Stay Calm Blog