21 May, 2024

“Life was hard. Sometimes we would only eat once a day for days at a time.”

Mildred is a single mother of four, living in rural Zambia. She works as a farmer, but she struggled to grow enough food to feed her family. Often, with no crops leftover to sell, her income was less than $30 per year.

“Life was just about suffering for us to find food,” Mildred says. “There was never enough food because we were not harvesting well. We would only have five bags per year out of all the maize, sunflowers, and groundnuts we harvested. It was not enough.”

Mildred farms for a living in Zambia

Mildred also used to grow tomatoes and rapeseed to sell so she had income for her family’s needs. She was able to buy basic necessities like soap but struggled to afford more than that.

“We didn’t have enough clothes, and even blankets – the children would fight for the blanket because we didn’t have enough,” Mildred says.

As a child, Mildred stopped going to school in grade nine because her family did not have the money to pay for her education anymore. Mildred feared her children were set to go down the same path.

“I did not have money for my children’s school, not even to buy books,” Mildred says. “Sometimes, my children would be sent home from school because of this.”

When ADRA came to Mildred’s village, she was eager to participate. The FARMS Project, which is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), provided farmers like Mildred with new seeds, taught best farming practices, and helped them market their produce.

“ADRA gave us cowpeas, cassava, and garlic, and provided training on how to grow these crops,” Mildred says. “We learnt about the possible diseases that affect these crops and how we can look after them so we can get a good harvest.”

Mildred’s first harvest exceeded her expectations, and not only did she have enough to feed her family well, but she had also crops leftover that she could sell.

“I was surprised at how many cowpeas I was producing! And the cassava crops performed very well,” Mildred says. “On the day that we harvested, I was so happy that we had food at home. What we didn’t eat, we sold for income.”

Mildred holds cowpeas from her latest harvest

As part of the FARMS Project, participants like Mildred learned how to sell excess crops to ensure they got the highest profit possible. Mildred had identified a potential buyer for her cowpea crops, but her farm alone didn’t produce enough crops. But through her training and working with other farmers involved in the ADRA project, Mildred rallied fellow cowpea farmers and together, they had a large enough harvest to attract big buyers.

“On my own with only one bag I would not have sold my cowpeas,” Mildred says. “I found our training very helpful because I gathered my friends and we sold together.”

The impact of the project has changed day-to-day life for Mildred and her children. Her family is well fed and her children are back in school.

Mildred’s children are back in school

“Now, I am making six or seven times more than before,” she says. “This has changed my life. Before, I was not managing. I was eating maybe once or twice a day. We would stay hungry. But now, I have seen the difference in my life because of the things you have brought for us. Now we have enough to eat – we are not hungry anymore.”

Now, instead of living day-to-day, Mildred is planning for her future, and the future of her children.

“Looking forward to the future, I am seeing my life will be better. My children will have the chance to complete their education. They can even go to college! For me, I wish to be farming on a bigger scale than I am farming now.

“Thank you for what you have done through ADRA. You have helped people with malnutrition and a lot of people here have been helped. I ask that you continue to help people like me.”

Your gift by June 30 can provide families like Mildred’s with the seeds and training they need to feed their family, increase their income, and send their kids to school. Feed a family like Mildred’s today by donating at adra.org.au/donate.

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 stop families from going hungry.