In the third instalment of Fiona’s travel diary, she visits two groups of youths who have done amazing things with support from caring Kiwis.

The day that I have been a little nervous about arrives. Chola, Evans and I head to Lusaka airport to meet a group of long standing ChildFund supporters who have given extremely generously to various projects over the years. Currently they are supporting an entire youth and women livelihood and microfinance project in the village of Chongwe and they are here to visit the project.

Visiting a women's group with generous Kiwi supporters

We spend a wonderful day visiting groups who are benefiting. The idea of the project is that following a period of training, groups decide on a particular venture, they are lent a sum of money to get them started and over time repay this loan with a low interest rate. Once the money has been paid back it can then be loaned to another group and so the benefit spreads.

Some groups are rearing pigs, some chickens for meat or eggs. Others have cultivated vegetable gardens and some are involved in carpentry.  The idea behind this project is simple but we see clear evidence that it is working.

A youth group raising chickens tracks their cash flow

One particular group of youth decided to raise broiler chickens (for meat) and were loaned enough money to build a coup, buy food, medicine and of course the chickens. They received training on budgeting and poultry management and were even taught how to look out for illness and administer vaccines. The group were given 200 chickens. They lost only 3 and when big enough sold 197. With the profit they bought 245 chickens, lost none, sold all and currently have 290. The group has very clear plans for the future and next month plan to expand by buying 30 chickens of a different breed so they can also start egg production.

There are ten youth in the group and by no means are they making enough money to support themselves yet. But the first step has been made, and in time I am confident they will expand their businesses to a point where they break free from poverty.

This youth group focuses on agriculture

The final stop of the day is to visit a group who decided upon agriculture as their business focus. As we bump along dusty tracks suddenly a patch of green is seen and the youth are busily planting in their fields. The Chief of this area has allowed the youth to use this patch of previously dry scrub land. By setting up an irrigation system which pulls water from the nearby river, they have turned it into a field producing cabbage, tomatoes, pumpkin and potatoes.

They invite us to help in planting some pumpkin leaf plants; after just a minute or two we are complaining of back ache and the youth laugh saying it took them three weeks of digging by hand just to prepare the soil. The Chairperson of the group explains that they no longer have to cycle to town with their produce but the market sellers now come to them directly to purchase their vegetables. Last week they asked the Chief if they could extend their patch, as with the money saved so far they think they can harvest another 10 fifty meter long rows next month. The Chief agreed and they were just starting to clear this new land.

The youth group has turned dry scrub land into fields of crops

Another late finish and we don’t drop our Kiwi supporters back to their hotel until 7pm but over dinner that night, they tell me that they are very happy with progress and are keen to keep supporting the project. Good news all round.

To read more from Fiona Hatton, ChildFund Development Manager, and her travels to Kenya and Zambia, be sure to subscribe to our blog.

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