Thursday, January 2, 2014

Calcium deficiency in Kenya. What About Egg Shells?

Dr. Paul Johnston with the BYU Nutrition, Dietetics & Food Science, analyzed the diets of the children in a rural Kenyan school. He found them very calcium deficient. He also observed pregnant women in the area chewing on rocks. He took some of these rocks back and found that they had a small amount of calcium in them. This confirmed his suspicion that the women also had calcium deficient diets and chewed on rocks to get calcium into their diet.

There are not many good sources of calcium in these rural villages. We have taught them to grow vegetables to improve their diets, but they still lack calcium. At the schools we have brought in milking goats to supply calcium rich milk to be mixed with their porridge but having a goat is more than most people can afford.
Emily and Ega cooked a chapati (flour totilla) for me with ground egg shell.

We evaluated all of their resources and found that a calcium source readily available in their area is egg shells. After discussing the issue with Dr. Johnston and doing some additional research, we concluded that the egg shells could be used as a calcium supplement for their diets.

I decided to do a little experiment and include egg shells into my diet. I asked Emily, our cook, to clean and grind to powder an egg,shell and then add it to chapati, a local tortilla type food. She thought that I was crazy, but agreed to try it after I explained why I was doing it.

We found no difference in the flavor of the chapati but we did notice a little grainy texture. I concluded that eggshells could work very well as a calcium supplement mixed with the local food.

We went to the village of Mkanyeni and explained the need for calcium in their diets and especially in the diets of their growing children. I told them that they were throwing away a very good source of calcium. This got their attention. They were skeptical when I first introduced the idea of using the egg shells. I suggested that they do a community experiment and half of the village eat them for six months while the other half did not.

As added encouragement I told them that if it was going to be a valid trial, then the ones that did not eat the egg shells would have to wait to the end of the six month period even if they see the other group's children growing stronger than their own. I don't really care about the validity of the experiment, I just want them to improve their lives and thought that implanting the image of having stronger children in their minds would give them the motivation to actually do it.

I am anxious to see if this simple solution will catch on and solve the issue of calcium deficiency in these rural areas. Simple solutions are of no value unless they are implemented.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I Do This Because I LOVE IT!

As some of you read my last post, this thought may have gone through your mind. Why would anyone want to do what Lonny is doing? He must be crazy. I should point out that I wrote that post within a week of arriving back in the U.S. when my mind and body were suffering from the effects of jet lag. Maybe you are right I am crazy but before you pass judgement let me tell you the rest of the story.
Imanuel Banda and his family are some of the wonderful people that I meet!

The People
In this line of work I have the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible people around. I meet the subsistence farmers that have practically nothing but are willing to share what they have with you. I hear their stories of struggle through life. I get to see the miraculous transformation that takes place as we work with them. I am the recipient of their love and gratitude as their lives change forever for the better.

I am able to work with inspiring people like Mike Bumstead, who started in a garage with a small business and grew it to a multi-million dollar company. He uses his wealth and influence to go to the developing world and to reach out and help lift those less fortunate. He founded The Institute for Self Reliant Agriculture (SRA) ( which teaches small land holders how to lift themselves and their neighbors out of poverty using their own resources. It is an incredible model that is sustainable, scalable, and simple.

The Results
The first sign of success that we see is the hope and enthusiasm that fills the  eyes of these humble people. They begin to see a path out of the generations of poverty that has encircled them like a dark prison of fate. As the variety of their crops begin to grow the excitement builds. They are now able to feed their family foods that they could only occasionally afford to buy. The family's nutrition level dramatically increases and the sicknesses dramatically decrease. The constant fear of losing a child to disease is replaced by hopes and dreams for that child. The children run and play more and learn so much faster in school. Excess produce is shared with the neighbors as well as sold. The extra income is used to pay school fees, buy pencils, books, even a new shirt for school.

The frequent classes taught by the SRA nutritionist, agronomist, and animal scientist, helps the family to understand simple principles to a better life. Improved family hygiene helps the family to avoid getting and spreading most of the common diseases in the area. Cooking classes teach them to use the new vegetables that they are growing. The plant and animal care classes teach them how to successfully grow and raise healthy crops.
The family is taught about preparedness and within a year has stored away enough food for their family for six to 12 months and enough seeds to plant the next year. The fear of famine and starvation dissipates and is replaced by feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. These basic principles are shared with others as they lift themselves out of the poverty cycle.

The Dream
Our goal is to transform the people in these rural areas into thriving energetic citizens whose lives are filled with the hope of better days for their families, friends, and neighbors. We hope to instill in them the confidence to learn and apply the basic principles of success in their lives. We want them to see that they can use their minds to evaluate their resources and develop them, improving their own lives and the lives of those around them.

The Vision
Much like a farmer that plants a small seed with the belief that it will grow, mature, and yield many seeds, we hope that as we teach one family the information will spread and the results will be thousands of families benefiting from teaching. Communities and nations will be changed and suffering will decrease all over the world. We want this model to spread throughout the world and need the help of many others to do it. Join us by going to the website ( and looking for ways that you can help or contact me directly (lonnyw@feedthe

I LOVE WHAT I DO because I get to work with some of the best people on the earth in a great cause! The work that we do is so rewarding as lives change for the better. It is very difficult at times but well worth the effort. During the difficult times I really appreciate the encouragement that I receive from my family and friends. It gives me strength to continue serving my less fortunate brothers and sisters.

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