MESA’s weaving together of experiential exchange, online education, and a global network of farms and food systems leaders and learners is continuing to build community worldwide. With nearly three decades of history and impact, MESA has a long heritage of connecting Global South trainees (aka Stewards) with host partner sites in the USA. Numerous Stewards have come from one of MESA’s main partners, Grow Biointensive Centre of Kenya (G-BIACK), including Cecilia Wairimu Njoroge for exchange in the USA. A global exchange Steward in 2019-20 with MESA Host partner Solidarity Farm in Pauma Valley, San Diego County, Cecilia spent several farming seasons away from her native Kenya to experience ecological agriculture in the very different setting of Southern California.
Cecilia exercises many leadership roles in her community north of Nairobi, as well as in other parts of Kenya. In addition to being a youth mentor, gender advocate and community change agent, Cecilia is both an alumni of the YALI (Young African Leadership Initiative) East Africa Cohort exchange program through the US Embassy, and co-founderand Executive Director of LEDI, her community based organization working in food security and social advancement in central Kenya. LEDI serves farming and pastoralist-in-transition communities in communities north and southwest of Nairobi. Their mission, “to empower, inspire and equip communities by providing training, the skills and tools for individual growth and community transformation,” is lived out via a variety of programs. Cecilia is an experienced researcher, project manager and leader in her community, serving LEDI alongside several other staff in support of numerous rural beneficiaries. Her involvement with MESA has provided her with valuable perspectives on how agroecology links rural and urban communities via resilient food systems.