Nicholas Muchemi took the ax, pick and hoe he used every day on his coffee and tea farm and started digging into the reddish-brown dirt on a hill next to his house. He had one goal in mind: to create a road he and his neighbors could use to make it easier to get in and out of town.
He spent a few long weeks working on his farm in the morning hours, then building his road in the evening. What Muchemi had to show for his hard work was a dirt road about a quarter of a mile up a steep hill in Kaganda village, Kenya.
“The hardest part to make was places where the drainage had to pass and there were deep roots getting in the way,” Muchemi said.
Neighbors in this small, rural farming community watched as the 44-year-old continued digging into the earth day after day. By the time he finished, they knew he’d created something valuable for everyone who lives nearby.
Children now use the road Muchemi built to get to school. Mothers use it to get to the market faster than the roundabout road that existed before. Other neighbors use the dirt road to get to the town’s church, which is at the top of the steep hill.
News of Muchemi’s feat spread quickly after his neighbor posted about it on Facebook. Members of the local government took notice. They installed a new roof on Muchemi’s house and gave the farmer a cow as a way to repay him for his kindness. They’ve also promised to gravel and maintain Muchemi’s road.
Muchemi never expected anything in return for helping his community, but he’s thrilled that his good deed has inspired so many people.
“I feel overjoyed that I did work that makes everyone happy,” Muchemi said.
“Even the whole country is happy and that makes me feel joy.”
He says one day, he’ll wake up inspired and continue developing his road further into town.
This story was made possible through the International Center for Journalists’ Bringing Home the World fellowship.