Love Will Find a Way

Love Vinkhumbo has faced many challenges in life. So she had quite a story to share when Canaan Gondwe, Spirit in Action Small Business Fund (SBF) Coordinator in Malawi, asked about SIA’s impact on her life.

Love with her daughter Grace.

Love with her daughter Grace. “The family is very thankful to SIA for the timely support and continues to pray to God that her heath and the family be sustained.”

Love, born and raised in Manyamula Village in rural Malawi, was first married in 1984 and had three children – Grace, Rhoda, and Trouble. Her husband had AIDS and all the money they made from odd jobs went to pay for his medical care. He died in 2000, leaving Love widowed and HIV+.

Love was discouraged and “could hardly find food and soap to keep my family well” but she didn’t lose all hope. She banded together with other people living with HIV/AIDS and formed the Manyamula HIV/AIDS Support Group, designed to be a place of encouragement and sharing. It was through this group that Love met her current husband Fanuel Tembo who is also HIV+. 

Love in her new grocery shop.

Love in her new grocery shop, called “Love’s Bean Shop”

Canaan Gondwe, the local SIA SBF coordinator, went to visit this family last year. During this visit he evaluated this family’s situation against the established criteria for new SBF groups, which is individualized for each community where SIA works. “This family was chosen for SBF because they fit the Poverty Assessment Tool as the family had lost everything through the sickness and they needed external assistance to make up the losses. I assessed their potential and found out that they could manage the SBF.

“When they received the SBF training in January 2012 and received the first grant of $100, Love Vinkhumbo and her husband bought beans, tomatoes, and a few groceries to trade,” reported Canaan. “Together with their children, she kept on ordering and reselling groceries and beans and today a different positive outlook is noticeable.

Grace is excited to continue high school!

Grace is excited to continue high school!

After 3 months of operation of the business, the family is showing smiles and is bailed out of untold misery. Two of her children are back in school. The family’s potential on the economic and social status has picked up and they feel life very different from before. They can buy their food and send their children to school.”

In just three months the family earned $130 in profit and “with the extra funds that she finds, the family has managed to buy two goats which she expects to raise and keep more money.” 

All that from a $150 grant! I am honored to read of Love’s great perseverance in the face of challenges. In times of need, she has been able to seek and provide hope, working to make life better for herself and everyone in her family.

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CIFORD Kenya: Compassionate Community Action

The women leaders of CIFORD in front of their office.

In April of this year, I got an email from Margaret Ikiara. She works for Community Initiatives for RuralDevelopment (CIFORD Kenya) in the Meru North district of Kenya, and was writing to begin a partnership between CIFORD and SIA. I receive many emails every year from people asking for assistance but Margaret’s letter caught my eye. I could hear her dedication and passion for her work as she told me about the people that CIFORD had helped over the last year. I want to share that passion with you and tell you about some of the amazing work CIFROD is doing for those most in need.

Since 2002, CIFORD Kenya has focused on community capacity building, sustainable agriculture, HIV/AIDS, and information transfer to work toward their vision of creating “a self-reliant rural community that is able to evolve a sustainable community development.” The organization, which works closely and effectively with individuals and local groups, is a good example of the local indigenous organizations that Jennifer Lentfer of How Matters thinks are particularly poised to “unleash social change” in developing countries.

I was amazed to read about the many different projects that CIFORD is working on and the great range of people they work with directly. Here are some highlights from Margaret’s reports:

HIV/AIDS Support Programme: In 2009, CIFORD trained 37 HIV/AIDS caregivers. “The effect of HIV/AIDS has been unbearable with many children are orphaned at an early age. These children are left with the grandparents who are elderly and can barely feed them.” This program helps orphans pay their school fees and helps grandmothers start income generating activities to support the children. Helping the grandmothers get ahead financially means that they children can remain living with family, rather than being sent off to orphanages in different communities. Margaret writes, “This has made many people who were hopeless to have a smile on their faces.”

Margaret Ikiara (on left) presents the gift of a goat to Agnes Acuri and Susan Nkatha. The goat will help these women, who are living with HIV/AIDS, earn money to care for themselves and their families.

Margaret Ikiara (on left) presents the gift of a goat to Agnes Acuri and Susan Nkatha. The goat will help these women, who are living with HIV/AIDS, earn money to care for themselves and their families.

Sustainable Agriculture Programme: Currently, CIFORD Kenya is working with 10 groups (365 people total) in agriculture activities. These groups are being trained to use techniques that will keep the soil healthy and eliminate the need for expensive farm inputs, including:

  • Compost Making – adds nutrients to the soil
  • Integrated Pest Management – uses good bugs to control pests
  • Double Digging – loosens the soil to help the roots and retain moisture
  • Raised and Sunken Beds – mixes the soil

The farmers have been trained on the compost making for use at their farms.

The farmers have been trained on the compost making for use at their farms.

CIFORD has partnered with Kilili Self Help Project in Mill Valley, CA to train on bio-intensive farming and Amistad International in Palo Alto, CA on women empowerment. So far, SIA has contributed to CIFORD only with a mini grant for them to buy local kale and onion seeds, which were given to people living with HIV/AIDS. I hope also that the letters and good conversation between Margaret and me since her first letter in April helps fan her passion and keeps this great organization going strong.

You can read more about CIFORD on their website or on their Facebook page.

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