31 May, 2017
A warm smile greets everyone who arrives at her door. The house is made of solid brick and covered in a neat thatched roof. Inside, the aroma of dinner is wafting through the hut.
Florence squats next to the pot, carefully stirring the hot soup she has made for her children who sit patiently waiting for their food. We’re in Malawi, a country that shares its borders with Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania in south-eastern Africa. Over the hot meal, Florence shares the progress she has made in recent years.
As a child, Florence did not receive any formal education. She could not read or write. Since her parents were not educated either, Florence was raised in an environment where new methodologies were not encouraged as her family was used to their old traditional ways.Florence used to work on her family’s farm. They would frequently run out of food, she remembers.
Now 37, Florence is married with 4 children. In the past, she also struggled to provide enough for them. It made raising a family a very difficult job. She could only afford to feed her children 3 meals per day in the first 3 months after harvest.
This entrenched cycle of poverty began affecting her children’s education as well, since they were needed to help with the farm work and could not attend school.
When ADRA’s Tsogolo Labwino project began in the area in 2010, “it transformed the mindset of the people,” Florence says.
The project helped farmers like Florence build resilience and better manage climate shocks like drought. She learnt techniques about how to grow drought-resistant crops, improve irrigation, water management and food storage.
Florence was filled with enthusiasm and hope. Before too long, she began to see results.
“After following all the cultivation methods, I was able to harvest 10 bags of maize from the same land I used to harvest just 3 bags,” Florence says.
During the next season, she taught what she had learnt to other farmers to assist them too. She even began to expand the different types of crops she grew to help with soil fertility.
To help survive the hard times, the project also promotes community savings and loans schemes.Florence joined this group, enabling her to access a loan to buy a cow which provided manure as fertiliser and increased her crop yield. She now employs other people to work in her garden and hopes to open a small shop soon to boost her household income.
Additionally, Florence learnt how to read and write through an adult literacy program. She now encourages her children to go school so that they can become change agents in the future.
“I want one of my kids to work for ADRA one day and help in making food available to people,” she says.
“This community needs more business management trainings because if the households have no other alternatives of getting income, food insecurity problems are likely,” Florence says.
Through her hard work, Florence is a shining example in her flourishing community. But most impressively, Florence has demonstrated her generosity by teaching others in her community techniques to improve their food security.