How does your garden grow?

How’s your garden coming along? In Minnesota, our garden (mostly cared for by our wonderful housemate, EB), is at it’s best right now. We have tomatoes, kale, carrots, and much more. You may be surprised to know that this is very similar to what you might see in Malawi!

“Hungry Season”

Tereza now can feed her two children all year long.

Tereza now can feed her two children all year long.

About 90% of the population in Malawi live in rural areas, so there are farms and “kitchen” gardens everywhere you look. Many of the SIA Small Business Fund grants in Malawi provide families with the necessary start-up capital to start or expand their farms. This is important source of both income (from selling vegetables) and food security for the families.

When we met Tereza Zimba, she told us that “at home, there is plenty of maize” after she and her husband opened a grocery stand at the Manyamula market in 2008. She was so grateful to be able to feed her family and have enough maize stored up for the “hungry season”.

The “hungry season” happens at the end of the rainy season when the crop is planted but not yet ready for harvest. Growing and storing enough maize to make it through the year is a great accomplishment for a Malawian family. Like Tereza, many other people shared that with SIA’s help they are now “food secure.” This is the powerful impact of our programs.

Beautiful Tomatoes

As in Minnesota, tomatoes, kale, maize, and green beans are all common crops in Malawi. Check out these amazing tomatoes on Light Banda’s farm!

tomatoes in Malawi

Light is a member of the Manyamula Savings and Loans Group, which was started in partnership with Spirit in Action last year. He learned techniques for growing tomatoes and maize in the rocky soil from fellow group members. When Light harvests and sells the crops from his .75 acre plot, he expects to bring in over $1,000 US dollars, which he will use to improve his house.

Working together, encouraging each other, and providing low-interest loans, the Manyamula Savings and Loans Group ensures that everyone has enough food for their families to eat until they are full!

Light Banda proudly showed us his tomato farm.

Light Banda proudly showed us his tomato farm.

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Seeing is Believing

McDonald Kajan sells vegetables

McDonald Kajan shows off his vegetables and the cell phone he bought with the profits.

What an amazing month! Boyd and I are home now, after 10 days in Malawi and 20 days in Kenya, visiting SIA partners.

I learned so much on this trip. Now that I have been there and seen the situation on the ground, my work for Spirit in Action – building relationships and strengthening people through support and encouragement – will come a bit easier.

I have seen the challenges that people face when there is a lack of infrastructure, when they are excluded from the financial system, and when their government is ineffective. I have also seen highly skilled craftspeople, dedicated volunteers, strong support systems, and creative solutions to problems.

As we visited Malawi Small Business Fund (SBF) groups in the marketplace and in the surrounding farmland, I saw that $150 really could help a family start or expand a business. It was amazing to hear each group tell us about the successes they have had and the changes they have been able to make in their lives as a result of SIA.

Smiling Small Business Fund members share their testimonies with us.

Smiling Small Business Fund members share their testimonies with us.

The impact of Spirit in Action is real! Your support of Spirit in Action is important and makes a real difference in the life of a family. They are all so grateful to you, the donors, for taking a chance on them. Thank you!

I have so many stories and photos to share and I’ll post them over the next weeks and months. Today I’ll just share some photos from Malawi and a video clip of SBF members welcoming us to Manyamula village in northern Malawi.

Tanya and Canaan at the market

Me and Canaan Gondwe (SIA SBF Coordinator) at the Manyamula market.

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