8 year old Ethan is the youngest of five children raised by their mother Mercy in Zambia.  Despite working hard to grow maize and groundnut, Mercy could only grow enough to feed her children twice a day.  Sometimes there was only enough food to eat once.

Ethan's three older sisters had to drop out of school to help their mother grow the crops they relied on.  Despite having no source of income, Mercy was determined to make sure Ethan and his brother Daniel finished school.

Now, Mercy's dream of sending her children to school is becoming a reality. The gift of two piglets from a caring Kiwi is changing the lives of Mercy and her children forever.

ChildFund staff spoke to Mercy this year, to find out how the piglets are changing her family's life. In this interview, she shares her family's struggles and her dreams for their future.

Tell us about yourself and your children
My name is Mercy and I live with my five children. The first three were girls and the last two are boys: Ethan aged 8 years and Daniel aged 10 years. The two boys are in school doing grade 2 and grade 4 respectively.

I received two piglets from ChildFund last year.  These were given to us after we were trained in pig rearing. They also taught us how to construct pig pens using materials that we obtain locally in our village

What was life like before you received the pigs?
Life was very difficult before I received the pigs from ChildFund. I relied on the small piece of land that I own where I grew vegetables and corn for consumption. I had no source of income and struggled to send my children to school. This is the reason the three girls dropped out of school to join me in tilling the land so that we could grow enough corn for us to eat throughout the year.

When we ran out of food, we would work in nearby farms and we were given corn for us to go and eat with vegetables as a payment.

What do the pigs provide for your family? Why are they important to you?
These pigs are very important as it’s like I own property which is very rare for women in my village. The pigs have now started multiplying and my aim to sell the younger ones to save money for my sons who I really want to finish school and look after the rest of the family in future.

Above all when I die, I will have left something for my children to live on. The three girls that are not in school will now be in a business of selling the pigs with me and as such be able to raise money to live on.

What do you plan to do once the piglets grow bigger?
I will sell some of the pigs and sell some at the local market as pork chops. I’m hoping to be a big farmer that breeds a alot of pigs in this village and may be start selling them even in the capital city, Lusaka. I also want to diversify and start keeping chickens for sale

What are your hopes or dreams for your children’s future?
I want them to finish school and I hope Ethan, the youngest can become a farm Manager so that he can carry on this business.

I want to really say a big thank you, if they were nearby I would have loved to shake their hands and kneel down and say thank you, the traditional way. They have restored hope for my family and I know that my children now have a future. I will not leave them without any property when I pass on.

To give the gift of a pig to a family like Mercy's, please visit the Gifts that Grow catalogue.  To find out more about how Kiwis are changing lives in Zambia, explore the Zambia country page.  Or, to help a child like Ethan, Sponsor a Child in Zambia.

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