TRADE, NOT AID
Why build a small farm in the middle of the bush? This is definitely a great question and one that needs further explanation. Let me give you the facts and our motive behind this initiative. It’s no secret that hunger and malnutrition are a really big problem in the village. But the reason behind this is a bit more complicated and it has nothing to do with global warming.
Because people in the village do everything as a group (And I literally mean everything), this means that very few will ever step outside the norm with how things have been done! While this is great for preserving and passing down secret family recipes from generation to generation, it does present some challenges in the area of development. No-one is allowed to think outside the box or be innovative! In the book, Foreign to Familiar, the author accurately describes the village as a hammer that’s just waiting to nail down anyone that sticks their head up above the rest! I’ve witnessed this first hand on several occasions. One time, a man simply built a slightly bigger house and he became the scorn of the village! Who did that man think he was in building a bigger house?! People accused him of pride and arrogance in making them feel bad for their smaller houses. The desire to make something of one’s self and do better is quickly squashed if it goes against the group or the status quo. To make matters worse, if one does somehow manage to rise about the rest, their success is often attributed to… witchcraft! This, of course, makes perfect sense in the village. How else could someone do better and have more in their life apart from them being a satanist and drinking blood on the weekend?
You’re probably starting to get a sense of the big picture now and how this relates to hunger and malnutrition. Hard work is punished! Most farmers never have enough to bring in money to cover their debts and put food on the table. Every year from January through March, so many people in the village have completely run out of food as starvation sets in.
This isn’t a matter of simple economics. Addressing this problem starts with a self-evaluation of one’s relationship with God. We can teach reform and cultural relevance but the real issues are those of the heart. When one accepts Christ, they’re given a new outlook and become part of a very different community, one built on faith. From there we have to learn how we connect to those around us and our responsibility to this same community. Once a man’s mindset has changed, addressing these other issues becomes a lot easier. Life stops being about conforming to the will of the village and becomes about conforming to the image of Jesus Christ.
This is the foundation on which we’re launching Chiyembekezo Farms. The goal behind this enterprise is to inspire, equip and empower. It would be easy to just hand out food to people but as good natured as that is, it doesn’t help long term. It’s trade, not aid that helps a man or woman retain their dignity and as they provide for their family’s needs. This is what we hope to accomplish through this new cooperative effort!
With a changed heart and renewed mindset, our goal is to teach the people new ways of farming that yield better results. Different techniques such as composting and conservation farming aren’t widely practiced. We’re also introducing fruit trees to the village. Our main focus will be with avocados and oranges as they have both the highest value at market and are equally as nutritious! This farm will be in a position to help, employ and provide not only extra income to those who desperately need it, but also in supplementing healthier options into their daily diet. Stay tuned as we get closer to the farm’s launch date!