DAVENPORT, Iowa. (KWQC) - A special group of entrepreneurs, the Mandela Washington fellows, visited the Quad Cities. The fellows are a group of 25 people from various countries in Africa are learning new techniques and methods to bring back to their home countries. One of them is in agriculture and is hoping to help prevent poisoning from agriculture chemicals.
A group of African entrepreneurs visit the Quad Cities
"This place has been amazing, it's been life changing for me" said Gift Udoh, one of the fellows. Gift is from Nigeria where she works in agriculture. The past week week she got to visit Bereskin Galleries and John Deere; and loved seeing how we farm in the U.S.
"Oh my god, visiting farm. I love agriculture! So visiting farms, looking around at how they do this in the U.S. ... In Nigeria we use mostly small farm machines, but here I've been able to see so many huge machines that I know would triple production for us!" Udoh explained.
But machinery isn't her main interest. In fact, she's hoping to do research on the impacts of poisoning from farming chemicals, and it hits close to home for Gift.
"I've lost someone to agrochemical poisoning, lost a farmer to it. It's not something that is known, but it is there. People suffer this thing but don't even know what they're going through." Because there isn't awareness for chemical poisoning in Nigeria, farmers aren't taking the proper precautions when using them: "the farmers over there use chemicals, without use protection gloves, no kind of coveralls, no mouth guards, they use it without covering. These chemicals accumulate and later it becomes a problem for them in the future."
So, Gift wants to do research, and prove that the poisoning is real and preventable, "I just wanted to make sure it didn't happen to someone else. Because they don't know that this thing exist we are trying to create awareness and this is true."
She'll be in Iowa City for a few more weeks, and she's ready to bring new ideas back to Nigeria, "I'm decisive on what I do and given this opportunity and today it's great doing those huge machines, it's been thrilling for me."
But, she said she'll miss the people. "Now I know why they say #IowaNice! Oh my God the people here are so nice! Super, super, super nice. And you just walk by and someone is smiling at you! I'm like, oh my God why are they smiling at me?" said Udoh laughing. "So it's been an experience. I've learned so much from the environment so far."
Gift was one of the 38,000 applicants picked to come to the United States.