Port Williams farmer reflects on volunteer work in Africa


Published on April 12, 2017

David Newcombe of Cornwallis Farms Limited in Port Williams recently travelled to Africa to help mentor employees at two barns established by the Egg Farmers of Canada. Part of the experience involved egg deliveries to homes and a local church that feeds children in need.

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PORT WILLIAMS - Kings County farmer David Newcombe recalls feeling mixed emotions while visiting Africa to mentor fellow egg farmers.

The 25-year-old tenth generation farmer at Cornwallis Farms Limited in Port Williams travelled to Africa as a volunteer with the Egg Farmers of Canada. He spent the bulk of his time there training employees at a barn the Egg Farmers of Canada established near Swaziland.

“It was a very poverty-stricken area. There were a lot of safeguards around people trying to break in and steal stuff,” said Newcombe.

There were about 5,000 chickens between the two barns designed with Canadian regulations and standards in mind.

“One of the biggest challenges was heat. It was over 30 degrees I think every single day but two,” he recalled.

“They also don’t have a lot of parts and supplies nearby. You can’t just get stuff the day of.”

Newcombe shared several useful pointers he’s learned while running a successful egg operation on his family’s farm , and taught the staff how to keep digital records and adhere to biosecurity protocols.

“One thing I realized over the trip was the pride that they showed in their work. All of the employees were very proud of the work that they were doing and they wanted to do the best that they could,” he said.

The egg operation is an invaluable resource within the impoverished communities that surrounded the barns.

“On the whole there was a lot of good things and I was proud to be a part of it because most of their eggs are being boiled and then sent out to partner churches who give them out to kids,” said Newcombe, explaining that the workers at the church peel the eggs for the children to eat on the spot because there were problems with people stealing eggs from kids in the past.

“The biggest shock to me (was) being in the local community and seeing their living conditions and the poverty.”

Newcombe heard stories of neglect and abuse, and met grandparents raising several grandchildren who were outright abandoned or lost both parents to serious illnesses like HIV/AIDS or Tuberculosis (TB).

“Some of the houses we visited were mud and stick huts… maybe eight feet by eight feet,” he said, remembering some of the sights he saw while making home deliveries.

Many of the huts had two mattresses inside, and several individuals – in some cases as many as eight – would share a single mattress.

Despite their challenging circumstances, Newcombe noted that the people there seemed to have a greater appreciation of the little things. The gift of a single egg was enough to bring sheer joy to the faces of the young children relieved to have something to eat.

“They were just extremely grateful for every opportunity and everything that they were given,” he said.

Reflecting on his trip April 11, Newcombe said witnessing the hardships faced by those he encountered in Africa was an important reminder of how important it is to lend a hand when possible.

“It’s good for people to help in some way, whether it’s here in the local community with the homeless or the food bank, or in Canada, or over in Africa. There’s a lot of people who are in need and until you go out and try to help them and see the conditions that… they’re facing, you don’t necessarily really realize it.”

 

David Newcombe of Cornwallis Farms Limited in Port Williams recently travelled to Africa to help mentor employees at two barns established by the Egg Farmers of Canada. Part of the experience involved egg deliveries to homes and a local church that feeds children in need.

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