One of the most important activities of the IWitness programme was visiting a farmer’s house, and that’s where I met 32-year-old Colette. She is a mother of four with baby number five on the way. Her husband is a soldier who has left town for his job.
One Acre Fund has supported her in acquiring three chickens and growing crops such as beans, corn and bananas. Her biggest difficulty before she started with the One Acre Fund was a lack of food. After joining the programme, she has not only been relieved of the threat of hunger but also dreams of opening her own clothing business!
When Colette was young, her family was so poor she had to learn sewing skills from neighbours to help support them. Then, one day, her brother rented a sewing machine from a neighbour that naturally led to her interest in tailoring.
After marriage, Colette finally bought her own sewing machine from her earnings, after joining the One Acre Fund programme, and had an opportunity to improve her family’s quality of life by expanding property to her home. She rents the room right behind her house to other people—an amazing improvement. She also hires out the farming machines she owns to her neighbours for a small charge and is planning to buy another sewing machine to rent out in the future. However, agriculture is still her main business.
I couldn’t deny the impact of One Acre Fund in Colette’s village. Providing quality seed, sharing knowledge of improving soil health and nutrients, and training farmers on the best crops to grow to harvest—it all links together to provide a high crop yield with profits that make Colette’s dream of a brighter future possible.
Here are the biggest changes through the One Acre Fund programme, according to Colette.
– Her whole family has enough food to eat.
– She can afford sewing machines and crop machines.
– She is planning to invest in her land for children’s school fees.
However, there is the worrisome issue beyond her control, which is climate change. Weather conditions are her primary concern, since farming is what people do for a living in her village. Unexpected drought or delayed rains causes serious damage to their daily life.
One interesting thing was that the sale of crops is now the biggest source of income for the family. Also, Colette said she would never give up farming to concentrate on her sewing and rental businesses, which shows she knows how important agriculture is for her family. She also knows that her dreams and growing up had a positive and big impact on the village.
She told me that she wants to hire an employee when there are two sewing machines and spend more time at home with her children. Another big goal is having a shop across the street. While she was explaining her dream in detail, and I realised once again why she thinks agriculture is important. It was an admiring moment.
She is not just staying in agriculture, but she’s creating a synergistic effect not only for her own household but also her village, by creating industries other than agriculture. I told Colette: “I want to be the first customer at your first clothing store.”