Agnes lives in Zambia on Mbabala Island with her children. Before her husband deserted their family, he supported their family by fishing. But after he left, Agnes found herself responsible for caring for her children without having any way to provide for even the family’s most basic needs.
“The hardest part of being a single mother was just trying to find enough food to put on the table.”
As the years passed, her children grew older and began contributing to the family through fishing, odd jobs, and farming. Over time, the older two children got married and moved out of the house. Once again, Agnes was left to care for the two youngest children on her own, one of whom suffered from seizures and a severe mental handicap. Along the way, Agnes also adopted an orphaned nephew.
How could a single mom like Agnes even dare to hope for a sustainable way to care for her family?
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Hope Shows Up in a Farming Association
Agnes attends one of the local churches on the island. And this church, along with local schools, happens to partner with Bright Hope and the Christian Farmer’s Association (CFA). The church has been very supportive of Agnes and her family, and several years ago, she was selected to receive a level-1 CFA loan.
You must understand that Mbabala Island has some of the poorest soils in Zambia, and growing anything on the island is a challenge, but also an opportunity for poultry. Given the poor soils and her small field, Agnes could not fully support her family through her agriculture efforts. Nonetheless, she worked hard and faithfully repaid her level-1 CFA loan each year. Then, in 2022, Agnes qualified for the level-2 loan program, which gave her access to a higher level of credit. She invested her money into a chicken egg layer unit and now cares for 60 hens! Each day Agnes takes 36 eggs to the CFA center on the island to pay for her loan. The remaining eggs from that day’s collection count as profit.
During our interview, Agnes commented on the support she has received from a young man named Maybin. Like Agnes, Maybin is a level-2 CFA farmer and is now working on his second layer production loan and is the best poultry farmer on the island. Agnes also lives close to two level-3 CFA irrigation farmers who grow vegetables, and she is negotiating with them to trade her chicken manure for vegetables.
A Reason to Hope for a Better Tomorrow
With the support from her church and other CFA members, Agnes has a reason to hope for a better today and tomorrow.
She is off to a good start on her loan program. The once-struggling single mother has displayed excellent management practices with her unit and has even begun experimenting with feeding the chickens various native leaves and grasses. She has found several plants the chickens enjoy and will supplement their chicken feed with these plants to provide a more rounded diet.
On a good day, Agnes will collect between 50 and 55 eggs. After repaying her 36 eggs to the farmer’s association, she’s left with approximately 18 eggs a day for sale or home consumption. Eggs sell for 2K per egg, which yields Agnes approximately K36 a day in profit ($2). Our target for a level-2 farmer is to increase household income by a minimum of $1/day. For Agnes, an increase of a dollar a day doubles her household income. Whether you earn a dollar a day or 100 dollars a day, if you can double your income, the impact felt in your life is equally transformative.
Hope is More Than Wishful Thinking
This layer project has shifted Agnes’ focus from worrying about what she can put on the table today to how she can begin to invest a little of this profit into further economic growth.
When Agnes’ husband first left, I’m sure she felt hopeless and afraid. Who wouldn’t if they found themselves in her place? But because someone said “Yes” to God’s call when He prompted them to give in support of Bright Hope’s Christian Farmer’s Association, there was a program already in place to help Agnes and her family.
Saying yes to God doesn’t always have to involve a big risk or sacrifice. However, saying yes to God impacts someone who feels out of luck and without hope in a big way.
Say Yes to God
Is God asking you to say yes to something? Maybe it’s to pray for women like Agnes who are desperately trying to provide for their families. It is giving toward access to clean water, or maybe God is prompting you to give in support of programs like the CFA that bring hope and help to people who never knew an agricultural enterprise could be their way out of poverty. Whatever God has put before you today, we dare you to answer Him with a resounding “Yes! I’ll go/serve/pray/give, Lord!”