At One Acre Fund, we provide farmers with asset-based financing and training services to grow more food and earn more money. Achieving this mission requires us to be close to these hardworking individuals to provide tailored support.
This commitment means relocating to rural locations for many professionals in our different country teams. For Ben Bella Kambarage, an associate at One Acre Fund Kenya, shifting from busy city life to the serene landscapes of rural Kenya was an enriching experience. Beyond the benefits of living upcountry, like a tranquil environment and new cultural experiences, relocating to Tupande’s rural headquarters in Kakamega reshaped his perspective of rural life and provided him with valuable insights that have transformed his personal and professional life.
"Moving to a rural location for work is a big decision," Ben Bella says. “To truly enjoy the enriching experience that rural life offers, I needed to take time to prepare and adjust to the change.”
Ben Bella, who has lived in Kakamega for over three years now, has some tips on things to know before relocating to a rural area:
Know your why: Understanding your motivation is the initial step. Relocating is not merely about making a physical move; it's also about positioning yourself in proximity to serve farmers better and, in turn, do more in your role. By embracing this closeness, you can pivot swiftly and optimize your approach to address challenges efficiently. “This has enhanced my work quality and fostered my professional growth and development,” Ben Bella says.
Embrace change: Relocation often entails a shift in lifestyle. Be mentally ready for change while also considering the rewarding aspects of upcountry life that might not be immediately apparent.
Prioritize your personal growth and well-being: According to Ben Bella, this transcends the professional aspect. “The transition allowed me to discover new potential, embrace cultural diversity, cultivate adaptability, expand perspectives, and develop a greater sense of independence. This newfound autonomy contributed to my personal growth by instilling confidence in navigating unfamiliar territories,” Ben Bella says.
Moreover, the quality of healthcare and education directly contributes to your and your family's overall well-being and growth in your new location. One should research local healthcare facilities and schools to assess the quality of services. For those with children, it might be important to meet with school administrators and parents to understand the education system and extracurricular activities available.
Finally, ensuring personal safety and security is paramount when moving to a new location. Ben Bella says, “In my preparation, I conducted thorough online research to understand the security landscape of the area where I planned to reside. I also sought insights from locals, gaining valuable perspectives on local safety guidelines.”
Evaluate the cost of living: For an accurate estimate, Ben Bella reached out to locals and colleagues already residing there. “I asked about utility costs to ensure I had a realistic projection.” Do not forget to factor in transportation and entertainment activities, as they also play a role in determining your overall living expenses.”
Assess infrastructure and connectivity: This step is particularly important for professionals whose roles are reliant on a stable internet connection. It pays to engage with locals or colleagues to gather information about internet reliability and speed and learn about the best service providers. “For me, I was on a mission to find a spot where the Wi-Fi signal surpassed even my grandma's captivating storytelling skills,” says Ben Bella.
Embrace quality of life: All work and no play? Where is the fun in that!
“I set out to discover hidden gems like the local food joints. Today, I have a favorite joint where the ‘ugali’ is so good it could solve any problem, even city traffic,” Ben Bella says. “I have explored local parks and cultural sites and engaged with the vibrant community at events, enjoying the simple things of life, authentic connections, the serene beauty of nature, and laughter-filled marketplaces.”
Build community relations: To truly understand a community and forge connections with your neighbors, immerse yourself in community service projects, volunteer opportunities, and local festivals. For Ben Bella, Kakamega offers traditional bullfighting, which he enjoys because it is a significant community event.
As Ben Bella puts it, “Bullfighting is a spectacle! It fills the air with excitement, music, and dance, providing an excellent opportunity to bond with the community in a way that resonates with their traditions.”