Ianna Mallayka Oddenyo, meticulously crushes egg shells and she seems to be having some fun doing so.
One would imagine the nine-year-old is doing it to pass her time. The young girl is, however, crushing the shells to get raw material to produce eco-friendly picture frames, fertilisers and chicken feeds.
The class five pupil at MA Academy Kisumu has been doing this since last year. She says watching her mother who runs a chicken business clean up the shells after hatching and throwing them away and also her dad trying to make chicken feed from the waste is what motivated her.
“Eggs, chicks and chicken are part of my family life. We have an incubator, which my parents use to hatch chicks. After 21 days my mother used to have a lot of shells. Though my dad made chicken feeds from them and the powdery remains used in the garden as fertiiliser, the biggest percentage of the shells remained went to waste,” she said.
Watching the plants grow healthier and greener, Ianna decided to research about eggshells and how one can recycle them. She bumped into an idea of making picture frames. After explaining this to her parents, they agreed to support her to make this dream a reality.
“My parents are supportive, especially my mum who gives me all the time, and my dad who makes sure the shells are not thrown away,” says the first born in a family of three.
Even though this is one of the projects which requires one to have some basic skills, Ianna says she doesn’t attend any class but through the help of a neighbour, Ken Moi, who is also an environmentalist and her parents, she has gained the required expertise and she is now making the products for commercial purposes. “I also get a lot of ideas and information from the Internet and from YouTube. I encourage others who want to join the business to do so,” she adds. Currently she can produce five picture frames every weekend – three on Saturday and two on Sunday. However, she reveals that she doesn’t have a specific number when it comes to fertiliser because she grinds the shells manually to have the finer powder to save on cost of power from a grinder/mixer/blender and this sometimes becomes difficult. The picture frames go for a modest Sh50 for the smaller ones and Sh100 for the medium ones. She can do bigger frames on order.
“People don’t know that egg shells can be used to improve the soil in their garden and that is why they throw away the shells. But I want to tell them that egg shells are a good source of calcium for your plants and can help make a great fertiliser,” she says. Apart from recycling she is also passionate about environment conservation and she has been talking about the importance of tree planting with her friends at the Angels of Sunset, a Kisumu-based modelling and Talent Development Group, where she is a member.
“The members are between the ages of three and 16 years, and we encourage ourselves to plant trees to conserve the environment. Our teacher talks to us about climate change amongst many other things,” she says. And how does she balance school and the side hustle? She has a timetable that guides her. She does her work during weekends, half terms and evening after school before supper and just before she goes to bed. Her efforts have been recognised by others and in August last year she was crowned 1st runners-up overall in the beauty category during Little Miss Kenya pageantry.
At the same time she won the title for the best eco-project nationally and she was crowned Kenya’s Little Miss Congeniality. Additionally on June 2 this year she was awarded a certificate of participation during Green Kids Awards Ceremony 2018 whose theme was Beat
“I am grateful to God and to my parents, relatives and friends for their prayers and support. My advice to other children is the future belongs to us and a cleaner safer environment is our responsibility,” she says.