1 June, 2023

“We mainly ate pumpkin leaves and maize, but it was lacking nutrition. My grandchild was underweight and malnourished.”

Rabson lives in rural Zambia with his wife, children, and two-year old grandchild, Emmanuel*. Rabson is a farmer, but he struggled to produce enough crops to provide for his family. They ate what they could grow, limiting their diet to pumpkin leaves and maize.

“My grandchild was diagnosed with malnutrition at the local health centre,” says Rabson.

“Each time I took Emmanuel to the health clinic, he was constantly weighing less than he should,” says Adnas, Rabson’s wife. “I asked why my grandchild was not improving in weight and why his legs, hands, and face were swelling.”

The health clinic told Rabson and Adnas that their grandchild was suffering from malnutrition due to their limited diet. They were told to feed Emmanuel with foods that were rich in protein to help encourage growth.

“We were advised to feed Emmanuel beans and eggs, but we could not afford to buy them,” Rabson says.

Rabson worked odd jobs and sold whatever crops were leftover to earn income for the family. But there were always more expenses than they were able to earn.

“We struggled to provide food for our children,” says Adnas. “That kind of hunger, it affects your children. We used to go to sleep hungry, and the children would cry with hunger. Our children stopped going to school because we could not afford to buy pencils, books, pens and shoes.”

When ADRA came to Rabson’s village, he was eager to participate. The FARMS Project, which is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), taught best farming practices, like how to use fertiliser, compost, and pesticides to get the most out of their yield. It also helped farmers like Rabson to best utilise their land. The project also introduced black-eyed peas (known locally as cowpeas) to participants. Crucially, the cowpeas provided the nutritional requirements Emmanuel needed to grow and flourish.

“Since we didn’t have beans and eggs, we fed the child on cowpeas since they are in the same food group as beans,” Rabson says. “We have since seen his health improving.”

“When I next took Emmanuel for his weight check, he weighed above 6kg,” says Adnas. “We’ve seen a great improvement – he has been weighing above 6 kg, then 7 kg, and last month he weighed 10 kgs. This shows that cowpeas saved my grandchild’s life.”

Not only did the cowpeas provide Emmanuel with the nutrition he needs to flourish, but they have also provided Rabson and his family with a steady and reliable source of income.

“Before joining ADRA, we only grew maize and pumpkin leaves, but now we have a variety of crops we can grow for both eating and selling,” says Rabson. “I was able to send the children back to school with the money I earned from selling cowpeas.”

Since introducing cowpeas to his crops and applying the farmer training he received from ADRA, Rabson is earning three times what he was previously making. For the first time, Rabson and Adnas don’t have to worry about how they are going to provide three meals per day and send their children to school. Now, Rabson can look towards a better future for him and his family.

“My dream has always been to have a better life for my family and build a nice house,” Rabson says. “Thanks to the money I earned from selling cowpeas, I was able to buy iron sheets and bricks to build a modern house in a better settlement.”

“Our life has improved significantly,” says Adnas. “Our house is much better than the one we lived in before, and our grandchild’s health has improved after switching to a more nutritious diet with cowpeas. Had it not been for the cowpeas we received from ADRA, my grandchild would have died by now.

“Thank you for your support.”

Your gift by 30 June can provide families like Rabson’s with access to a wider range of nutritious foods. Donate today to help feed a child and grow a family’s future.

* Name changed in accordance with our child protection policy

The FARMS project in Zambia is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Every year, ADRA receives Australian Government funding through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) for eligible development programs. A requirement for this funding is that we commit to contribute $1 for every $5 we receive from the Australian Government. Please donate by June 30 to help us meet our ANCP funding match and give a brighter future to people in need.