Farming the Land
Picture yourself in a small village near Chipili in Northern Zambia, about as remote as you can get. Bad roads, poor communications and difficult circumstances mean hard lives are played out day to day against a background of stagnation and difficulty. In this setting, Osia, a local woman has gathered together 16 local village women to learn about farming skills and how to make the most of what they have. It has been a difficult journey for them. The place is hard, the rains were terrible and, when they did arrive, they were too late and too heavy. Not ideal when you are literally living from land to mouth.
Yet the womens’ harvest was good. Together they had achieved security both for themselves and their families. They had done this by working together in one of Dignity’s many village groups, which we call Life! Groups. This was no accidental happening. For the last two years Osia has been part of what we call LifeSkills!, a programme that runs alongside our other work to teach people practical skills. Osia and her friends had been learning what it means to farm with what you have. This was all made possible by the two visits she made to Mkushi to learn how to do it.*
Why are we so poor?
Gervas is another team member who has been learning conservation farming. Recently a friend mused out loud to Gervas, “Why are we so poor?” Gervas explained to him that we must use what is in front of us; what is in our hands. We must be diligent, faithful and consistent. Just like Moses in the Old Testament story of the Bible where God sends him before Pharaoh with just his walking staff for comfort, so we must go and do what we can with what has been given to us. This way Gervas explained we can “end poverty” for our people.
The ripple effect
LifeSkills! is the part of Dignity’s work that seeks to help rural people move forward by knowing Jesus and making a difference practically. Our Love Your Village resource, a 10-week bible study on practical transformation, helps villagers realise the responsibility they have for the very poor in their community. This combined with our Life! Group concept helps people to know Jesus and make a difference to their friends and wider relationships. It’s a powerful combination that inspires hope and change in many places.
During the last year, 25 people have been trained in the LifeSkills! programme with 8 progressing to become trainers of farming skills in their villages. In turn these people have touched hundreds. This model that teaches people to take responsibility for their own area is what drives the work of Dignity forward in many areas of Southern Africa. Whether that be farming or Biblical knowledge, community cohesion, the re-energising of churches or the planting of new ones. It is all about the huge contribution that those who are seen as poor make to God, their community and themselves.
They are literally world beaters, every one of them.
You can start a ripple
Help us to support people like Osia and Gervas. Pray for us, make a donation or get involved. You could even join one of our short term trips and get to meet people like Osia and Gervas a learn from what they are doing. Play your part in making a difference.
* Farming training is delivered in partnership with Foundations Zambia.