Zambia – Under the shining sun, a group of children raced across the street and toward the lake. Bangweulu, which means “where the water meets the sky,” is one of the world’s great wetland systems. Situated in the upper Congo River basin in Zambia, this area has become the home of those living on Mbabala Island, a sandy ridge dividing off one of the sections of the lake.

Life on Mbabala Island has become a fight for survival—the lake has nearly been depleted of fish, and the acidic soil has rendered it barren to all types of vegetation.

As the kids splashed in the lake, an elderly voice called out, beckoning them home. Bibian, a widow caring for her three grandchildren in Mantia village, had prepared a delicious dinner for them. The aroma of their grandma’s cooking, and their hungry bellies, urged them to hurry home.

Last year, we shared parts of Bibian’s powerful story. As the tsunami of grief that came with her husband’s passing washed over her life, Bibian felt burdened beyond her ability to care for her grandkids. Then, just when the discouragement felt overwhelming, a handful of chickens re-opened the door to hope.

When one of Bright Hope’s partner churches loaned Bibian her first chickens as a part of the Christian Farmer’s Association loan program and trained her to start a business selling eggs, she never looked back!

Bibian shared: “After Bright Hope, my life has not been the same. Before I received the chickens, my family relied upon baking and selling fritas, but it was not enough to live on. We were starving.”

Soon, after selling eggs, Bibian’s income doubled, and she quickly repaid her loan. Bibian expressed: “I’ve been able to provide for my grandchildren. Their father ran away, leaving them under my protection. Through the chicken loan at the church, I can now provide for myself and my family.”

Today, Bibian serves as an active part of her community and has stepped into leadership roles in her church’s women’s ministry. Bibian rejoiced: “My life will never be the same! My hope for the future is to grow my business and to continue to provide for my grandchildren’s school fees and uniforms. In addition to providing for my family, I want to contribute to the church’s needs by tithing. That way, other families can experience the transformation that comes with having a sustainable way of providing for their family.”

Life is still a struggle on Mbabala Island. However, families impacted by the Christian Farmer’s Association can now step up to the challenge and support their families and neighbors. Just like Bibian, who used to worry if she and her grandkids would starve, she can now send them to school and help provide a sustainable future for other members of her community.