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Posted: December 7, 2013 9:30 p.m.

Kenyan 4'Hers bring new perspective

The median age in the United States is 37.2.

That means in just a few years, I’ll be exactly in the middle, with half our population younger and half older.

Does that mean that’s when I’ll be old?

In Kenya, the median age is 18.9.

Two Kenyan teens visited us on Monday, and they were 16 and 17 years old.

I have to admit that puts it in a bit of a new perspective.

The infant mortality rate in Kenya is 42 babies in every 1,000. (It is 6 per 1,000 in the U.S.).

Typical life expectancy is nearly age 79 here in the U.S., but only 63 in Kenya.

I guess getting old isn’t such a bad thing.

These two youths are working to help improve Kenyans’ lives through their 4-H work.

Duncan and Naomi are both members and leaders of the 4-K Club in Kenya, which is their version of 4-H.

Visiting the U.S. to take part in National 4-H Congress in Atlanta last weekend with their school principal and 4-K leader Millicent Obare, they were able to spend a few hours here in Covington to learn about Georgia 4-H.

Obare is principal of a primary school serving more than 900 students ages 3 to 16. Duncan and Naomi just finished their studies and took the national exam to move on to high school.

Both hope to qualify for four years of high school and then move on to university studies.

4-K teaches youths at the school to grow corn and other crops, as well as how to sell, how to market, and every other facet of agribusiness.

As we toured Newton High School with the visitors, I was surprised to hear Obare say that her school had lunch for every student.

My friends in Canada and Australia were amazed by the U.S. school food program, so I was interested to hear that a school in Kenya was offering food for students.

I was even more surprised to find that the students are growing and preparing lunch as part of their 4-K lessons! Talk about making a difference every day.

They also use the money made from selling surplus food for things like purchasing school uniforms for those who can’t afford them.

Obare was surprised to see how students dress in the U.S., and you should have seen the look on her face when she heard that some students might not be able to afford uniforms.

Duncan said he owns two uniforms, and our best guess is that both uniforms combined likely cost less than what any student was wearing at school the other day.

In addition to the tour of our newest school, led by the Rambassadors, the Kenyan group also enjoyed lunch at Bradley’s Barbeque; listened to old-time fiddle selections by 4-H’er Flannery Peay; took photographs with the Christmas decorations on the square; heard about 4-H history in the Newton County courthouse; and visited a 4-H club at South Salem Elementary.

The Georgia 4-H activity that seemed to most surprise them was shooting sports. In Kenya, it is illegal to possess a firearm. In fact, Obare told 4-H members at South Salem how animals live in the wild in Kenya, instead of in zoos, and that they do not hunt them.

Overall, it was interesting to see that students here asked the Kenyans many of the same questions that Australian youths once asked me, about what we eat and what music we enjoy.

I hope all the 4-H’ers who met our 4-K friends are as excited as I am to see how this club is making a tangible difference around the world each day.

We may not depend on 4-H to put food on our lunch plates here, but our 4H’ers learn skills that will help them to become successful adults.

If you’re looking to make a year-end donation for tax purposes, please remember that Newton County 4-H can always use your financial support to keep educational activities free or inexpensive for local youths.

You may also designate your gift for a specific program, competition or camp scholarships if desired. Our address is 1113 Usher St., Suite 202, Covington, Ga. 30014.

Terri Kimble Fullerton is a Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at tkimble@uga.edu.

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