Imagine a forest fire, raging out of control. Each time the wind shifts, the fire’s path changes. On an incline, the fire spreads more quickly. In a situation like this, experts are consulted to analyze many factors, such as fuel type, fire-weather conditions, topography, and human activity. They then present a plan for the “best chance” at controlling the situation that can change within minutes.

Extreme poverty can be compared to a forest fire as a multitude of factors can change overnight, tipping millions into poverty. In 1990, the World Bank defined extreme poverty as…

While I was attending college, I can recall returning home to see a few men working in our family garden. They created nice garden beds and planted a variety of crops that I often only saw in grocery stores. My family and I really loved the work that they did in our garden. A few years later, my mum and I were strolling through our neighbourhood when we heard celebrations taking place at Thrive’s Growing Health Institute. We were intrigued to find out what was going on, so we stopped in. During our visit to Thrive’s graduation ceremony, my mum reminded me about the men that used to work in our garden and that they had come from Thrive. I instantly fell in love with Thrive and dreamt of working with them. Today, I realise that dream has come to pass.

Figuring out where I was called to work was a crazy ride. After finishing my Bachelor of Science – Kinesiology and Bachelor of Education, I went on to supply teach in various Christian schools. One of the schools that I was teaching at mentioned a potential partnership that they may create with an organization called Thrive. I thought nothing of it as it didn’t involve me until the principal of the school recommended me to them for their Curriculum Development Coordinator position.

In the year 2008, I went for an internship program for 6 months at Ecology Action in California. I learned a lot and felt like sharing the knowledge with many people rather than just sitting in a fence for 8 hours a day. After the internship, I came back to Kenya and on the second week I met Mr. Dale Bolton. I shared what I wanted to do after the internship which turned into birthing Thrive Kenya. It started in 2008 and after 3 years of operation we elevated it to an international organization after doing a seminar where 13 countries were represented and here we are.

The year 2013 involved the development of many partnerships. Overall, partnerships were created in three different countries. The first being a Canadian NGO called Bopoma Villages, located in Zimbabwe. Their mission involves overcoming poverty by equipping people with the tools to do it themselves.

A Decade to Remember Continues

As we focused on the continent of orphans, we realized that there were many more problems. These problems involved food security, nutritional deficiencies, contagious and deadly diseases. Incorporating all issues, we developed the idea of Growing Health as a solution for the world’s poorest continent.

Good news travels fast and that is what happened in 2009. For every community project we started, 3 other groups wanted us to help them. We learned very quickly that not all of the groups were serious about growing food, but some simply wanted whatever handouts were available.

What it Takes to Create 1 Pound of Food

As Thrive expanded and transformed the lives in many communities, it also grew internally. In 2009, Thrive’s team grew by 2 important members. The first one being Ambrose Motian. Ambrose, a recent Decade to Remember - Ambroseagricultural graduate, jumped on board to help end extreme poverty.

An interesting fact is that Ambrose’s mother was one of the first in her tribe to promote organic gardens in the ’90s. Now Ambrose would be doing the same – it’s wonderful to see how God works!

Ambrose started out with projects closer to his home which involved the Maissi tribe. The communities there became very interested in what Ambrose had to share as they only knew a life of caring for cattle. Therefore, these new ideas of growing food seemed to be a big transition for them.

During this time the Maissi tribe was struggling. They were faced with the challenge of finding enough water for their herds of cows. It is known that cows consume approximately 2,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. Therefore, the tribe needed to gather lots of water in order to receive beef. Thrive had a better and healthier alternative which involved organic gardening. Ambrose was able to promote organic gardening as a solution to their struggle. Instead of gathering 2000 gallons of water needed for cows, they could reduce that amount to 20 gallons, as it is also known that most vegetables only need 10-20 gallons of water to produce the same amount of food, 1 pound.

Malaria No More

Decade of Discovery - DouglasThe second staff to join Thrive in 2009 was Douglas Naibei. Before joining the team, Douglas suffered from malaria 4 times a year. Since living the Thrive’s way by eating greens every day, Douglas has been malaria free for more than 8 years. Douglas’ role with Thrive involved creating more projects in the Kitale area where he could help others be freed from deathly diseases.Decade to Remember - Boaz's home

The year of 2009 finished off with 1 acre of land being purchased in Kitale for Boaz. Boaz used this land to build a simple mud home for his family of 4. Additionally, this land turned into a learning center as Boaz created many beautiful demonstration gardens.

Although lots of growth happened in 2009, Thrive struggled to get people to understand their ideas. For many, this new idea of food security was unheard of and seemed impossible. Drastically changing the way that they lived their everyday life was a challenge, but nothing that Thrive couldn’t overcome.

1 Village, 16 Deaths

The year 2010 involved the discovery of Thrive’s second big idea. The idea that organic gardens should not just grow food, but crops that would help to build people’s immune systems.Decade to Remember - Funeral

This idea came to the founder Dale Bolton when he started seeing the harmful effects of the serious tropical diseases in Africa. During a trip to visit a village, Dale was not greeted in the regular enthusiastic way which involved dancing and singing. Dale walked into a quiet village. A village that was mourning the deaths of 16 people. 16 people died in 1 day, in 1 village. This is when Dale knew that these people didn’t just need food security, they needed disease prevention and protection. Diseases like cholera, typhus, TB, pneumonia, dysentery, malaria and meningitis needed to be stopped.

To gain more knowledge, naturopathic doctors and holistic nutritionists were contacted. Mountains of information and books on the 21st-century idea of nutritional excellence to build immune function were received. Additionally, various international experts were invited to come and conduct seminars on nutritional excellence in Kitale, Kenya. Training materials started to be created that would be locally taught in the future. Thrive was on its way to growing health.

Kale is The New Beef

Another great discovery in 2010 was Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s nutrient density chart. A chart that shares the number of vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals in each food. People could see that the health-giving potential of white rice was almost 1% of kale. This chart was the best tool used to convince people that the food we eat can either heal or hurt us. O4O still uses this chart as the main teaching point in all of its current lessons.

Decade of Discovery pt 2 - Nutrient densities of foods

Our staff began to communicate with local projects that certain foods could be used as medicine. Eating plants for health benefits was an idea that was completely foreign to Africa, but was needed! This encouraged us to continue our training programs and to discover more big ideas that could help the extreme poor.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out how the rest of our story unfolds!

Decade to Remember

Decade to Remember

Our 10th Anniversary – A Blog Series

Often we look back and wonder where the past few years have gone. This is especially true for Thrive as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. The last decade has involved a lifetime of amazing progress and wonderful experiences. Continue to follow us through our “A Decade to Remember” blog series and find out the challenges we overcame, the amazing testimonies we received and see some of our favourite photos. 

40 Million Orphans

The idea of Thrive started out with a problem that would just not go away. This problem involved 40 million unsupported orphans in the continent of Africa. To put this into perspective, this ridiculously high number represents more than the entire population of Canada.

Decade to Remember - Orphan

With 40 million unsupported children in the streets, we knew we needed a giant-sized solution. We also knew that this solution needed to be flexible so that it could be used in any community, anywhere. We had introduced ourselves to an enormous challenge that needed an even bigger solution. 

80% of the Best Farmland Not Used

Decade to Remember - Dale and Boaz

We soon found out that growing food in Africa had gone downhill during the last two decades. The reason being that fertilizers, pesticides and seeds had become increasingly expensive. This hit us hard as we knew that 25% of the best farmland in the world is in Africa and 80% of it was not being used. Therefore, we needed to develop a more economical way of growing food.

After doing some research, Dale discovered the Bio-Intensive method of organic gardening. Dale continued to learn as he attended a one-month seminar in Kenya that focused on organic gardening. One lesson that stood out claimed that 21st-century organic gardening grows 2-6 times as much food per square foot than conventional farming. Additionally, it uses less water, no chemical fertilizers and only simple tools.

Thrive was Born

Decade to RememberDale identified that one of the trainers teaching the seminar had a heart for unsupported children. After many cups of tea with this man named Boaz, the idea of Thrive was birthed. During the year of 2008, strategies and plans to help local orphan care communities were created. Additionally, several five-day organic gardening workshops were completed in various communities. 

Boaz did an amazing job during Thrive’s first year as every project he started, 3 other communities saw his work and wanted the same help that he was providing. Thrive was immediately growing and was off to a great start!

A Decade to Remember Continues…

Want to read the rest of our story? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates as we continue this blog series and share our experiences that occurred during the first 10 years of Thrive. 

Decade to Remember - Workshop 2008

Decade to Remember Workshop 2008Decade to Remember

Decade to Remember - Group Pciture


My African Adventure Meet Lea Apostoleris

My name is Lea Apostoleris. I have been Atlantic Canada’s territory representative with Purity Life for almost ten years now! I am proud to have grown, over the years, alongside such a great company. Because of our mutual values, commitment, passion, and integrity, rather than drifting apart, Purity and I have moved forward together in this industry. Purity Life has always encouraged and enabled me to pursue my professional and personal goals. Because of Purity Life and Natural Calm Canada, I was recently able to fulfill a lifelong dream: to visit Africa. I was also lucky to do it with a fellow retailer, who is now a close friend, from Corn Crib Natural Foods in Saint John. Continue reading to find out the details of my African adventure.

Everyone Needs to be Part of the Solution

Walking on African soil has been on my bucket list for years. This continent, so rich in natural resources, history, culture, and beauty, has always called to me in a way I find hard to express. I had spent countless hours perusing websites promoting aid missions, fundraising initiatives, and sponsorship opportunities for this broken continent, but they always failed to convince me that my investment would actually make a difference. Then I met Dale and Linda Bolton of Natural Calm Canada and learned about how they are not only helping countless Canadians with their patented ionic magnesium product but are also working to end extreme poverty. Sounds like a pretty big order, eh? Some might even go as far as to say it’s nothing but a pipe dream. How can we possibly end extreme poverty? I wanted to see for myself what this company was all about. I wanted to know how our selling an already-amazing product could actually provide an answer to a problem this world has been struggling with for years. So I went. And I saw. And I’m here to tell you—every person who reads this—that you are part of the solution, and it’s not that hard.

My African Adventure - Green SmoothieLet Food By Thy Medicine

Dale and Linda founded Thrive ten years ago. They have taken the same message we as health-food retailers, manufacturers, and distributors have been advocating for years and brought it to a place that needs it the most: Let food be thy medicine. They started a school in Kitale, Kenya, to teach just that.

I thought I knew what I had signed up for. But it wasn’t until I arrived and got to tour their school, meet their students, and listen to their stories that I was really able to see the change we can all be a part of by selling Natural Calm and supporting those living in extreme poverty with proper nutrition, education—and repetition. How many times do we as educators have to drill into someone’s head that sugar is bad and greens are good? It is no different at Thrive; however, in conditions of extreme poverty, it’s a matter of life and death.

Villages, Schools, Slums and Prisons – Where to Next?

Thrive works with small-scale farmers, focusing on four goals: food security, nutritional education, disease prevention, and income generation. For one month, four times a year for two years, students learn about gardening, proper nutrition, and healing herbs in the first year. In the second year, they continue to learn about nutrition as well as community development, time management, and income generation. Back in their villages, the students do the practical work of getting people to commit to My African Adventure investing their time in maintaining a green-based garden. Once an agreement is reached with that village, Thrive provides them with seeds, tools, and, most importantly, a course on composting, bringing the soil to life, crop rotation, seed drying, and the importance of growing nutrient-dense foods to fight and prevent disease. This also generates income for the community when they sell their surplus vegetables. When the students graduate, they receive compensation for each garden they successfully set up, thereby creating yet another income source! Currently, Thrive has projects in prisons, villages, schools, slums, and surrounding African countries. Next, they have their sights set on refugee camps and India!

African Adventure Opens Minds

The opportunities are endless, and you can even implement them right here at home. Although we do not experience anything close to what those in extreme poverty experience, we are still in desperate need of education on getting back to the land—to the soil, and letting food be our medicine. I’m sure that is why most of you do what you do! I find it quite ironic that I had to travel all the way to Africa to learn the best way to plant a garden!

In a place where the world’s resources are the richest, its citizens are among the world’s poorest. Where medicinal plants such as Artemisia (wormwood) and Moringa grow in the ditches, most people suffer yearly from malaria and malnutrition, cholera, and typhoid. Where the growing season for healthful fruits and veggies is twelve months a year, people starve. This does not have to be.

Choose HopeMy African Adventure - Kids

Now more than ever it is so important to keep organizations such as Thrive going. The EU has declared Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Ethiopia to be in a crisis of extreme famine right now! One garden with one water well per community can literally fix this problem. I have seen it happen! And I have also seen what it looks like when it doesn’t happen. I choose hope. I choose to donate my money to organizations such as Thrive rather than sponsorships or dead aid. “Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for life.” That old proverb still rings true.

If you are interested in learning more about this amazing trip, please contact Dale or I. Do yourself a favour and open your eyes to how the other half lives, then reach into your heart and ask yourself what you can do to help. Natural Calm has made it easy for each one of us to effect change.

Click here to find out how you can win a trip to Africa with Thrive.


Lea Apostoleris

  • Email Lea:
  • Email Dale:

Where Does Your Poo Go?

Sunday was World Toilet Day. For those of us from the west, this sounds like a strange thing to draw attention to. But for us at Thrive, thinking about toilets and the poo that goes into them grabs our attention. Continue reading to find out how poo can actually be used to help the extreme poor.

It is estimated that 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation which is more than 35% of the world’s population. Specifically, 6 in 10 Africans live life without a proper toilet.

As many as 7,500 people die daily due to lack of sanitation and 5,000 of those are children under the age of five. Today, more people die from poor sanitation than from the measles, malaria and HIV/AIDS combined. This is because poor sanitation can release a legion of diseases.

The Value of Poo

For hundreds of years, the Chinese have been using human waste to fertilize their fields, increasing food output. This idea combined with 21st-century science could be the answer to helping the poor.

At our training center in West Africa, we have been using this idea and making the best fertilizer. This fertilizer is created from our students’ waste by using our compost-making toilets.

Studies suggest that the average person consumes approximately 1000 pounds of food or more over the course of a year. Using our compost-making toilets, these consumption rates would allow us to produce 200 pounds of high-quality fertilizer. As a result, this would make growing disease-fighting foods a lot easier.

Use Poo By Creating Special ToiletsCompost-Making Toilets, Poo

The process is fairly simple. There are two different models of rural, low-cost compost toilets. The first method involves separating the solids and the liquids as they are treated differently. The solids are kept in the tank for 6-12 months. After this time period, it turns into valuable “black gold.” The liquid is stored in pails which are placed in the sun for a month. Then the liquid is used as an activator for compost piles.

The second method involves digging a hole that is approximately 4 ft deep. A temporary shelter is then placed over it to create a bathroom. When the hole is 2/3 full, a new hole is dug nearby and that dirt is used to fill the first hole. The shelter continues to be used with each new hole. After the first hole has been filled for 6 months, it can be used as fertilizer. The material can be removed and used in gardens or a tree can be planted directly into the hole.

Poo Could Extend Life

After a decade of creating disease-fighting gardens, we have discovered something. When the soil has 10% organic material it becomes full of life. The best organic growers are always looking for sources of high-quality organic material. I would think poo if treated properly, could easily qualify.

On average, Africans die 1/3 to 1/4 sooner than westerners because of poor diets and water. That reality could motivate them to look for solutions that are practical, like turning their human waste into high-quality fertilizer.

Therefore, poo can be a resource that can be utilized rather than being mishandled, causing disease or death.  

Check out our website to see how low-to-no-cost composting toilets are built. We think the designs are great! In order to get people to use them, we have to show them how it can change their personal lives in a big way.

Compost-Making Toilets, PooCompost-Making Toilets, Poo

Will You Win the 50/50 Antibiotic Lottery?

Just this morning I was talking to a friend who was vacationing down south. She mentioned how quickly a bug had gotten into her system, pushing her body temperature to 104 degrees. She went to a local medical clinic, got a round of antibiotics and 12 hours later she started to feel somewhat normal.Antibiotic Resistance

Even though the doctor truly didn’t know if it was viral or bacterial, she seemed to win the 50/50 lottery that it was bacterial. If it had been a viral infection the provided antibiotics would not have had an impact.

Antibiotics Solve AND Create Problems

The WHO (World Health Organization) has declared this week as World Antibiotic Awareness Week, November 13-19, 2017. The key word is “Awareness” because even though antibiotics have been saving lives for 90 years, they have also created forms of drug-resistant bacteria which have created even more problems.

Western adults get colds 2 to 4 times a year and children 6 to 10 times. The common cold, flues and as many as 95% of noticeable sicknesses are caused by viruses. Therefore, 90% of antibiotics sold may be totally ineffective short term. Our guess is that the common cold occurrence with children in developing countries is even higher than 6 to 10. In these countries, antibiotics can be purchased for as little as $1.50 with no prescription needed from a doctor.

Bad Versus Good

Seventy percent of the immune system resides in the gut. The use of antibiotics not only take out the bad bacteria but also the good disease fighting allies. After the good bacteria are removed, bad strains such as Helicobacter pylori move in creating stomach ulcers. We have seen symptoms of ulcers in young adults reversed in many cases with green vegetable-derived compounds. Left untreated these conditions can last a lifetime.

Good gut bacteria help to protect the digestive tract by creating a lining. As well, it assists with the digestion of foods and promotes a variety of actions such as vitamin production and metabolic functions. Additionally, good bacteria release antibacterial substances that prevent disease.

One way of preventing bad bacteria is by crowding them out with good bacteria. This is known as competitive exclusion.

A healthy micronutrient-rich plant-based diet promotes good bacteria. Good bacteria feed on fiber which is abundant in unrefined plant food. Unfortunately, hundreds of helpful bacteria are lost with the use of antibiotics. Therefore, creating a vacuum for the bad strains to come in.

Our Time With Antibiotics is Running Out

Antibiotic Resistance

One of the WHO slogans is “use antibiotics wisely to combat rising drug resistance”. We agree with this but also ask the question, what do you put in place of antibiotics? Thrive feels that more awareness needs to be created about restoring the damage in our gut which has been caused by the overuse of antibiotics. We need to create a strong immune system that can effectively overcome diseases. This is what our Growing Health program is all about.

The good news is that the solution to fix the overuse of antibiotic costs little to nothing. Simple, fresh, whole foods are all that is needed.

For more on this topic watch out for our new book called Super Immunity for Developing Countries coming out in 2018.

Learn more about World Antibiotic Awareness Week by clicking here.