I wish you were here. I wish I could take you by the hand, and sit you next to me on Hannah’s couch. So you can feel the warmth of her energy, in person.
When we arrived, Hannah shrieked playfully, like so many women would, “You have arrived early, don’t film me yet — I haven’t done my hair!” We laughed and nodded in understanding as she ducked into the next room, her hand placed squarely over her headscarf.
Her modest house is just one small common room, flanked by two simple quarters on either side. A single light bulb hung from the tin roof, and dozens of baby chicks chirped relentlessly outside. Inside, I admired the walls, every inch covered with images: soccer posters, yellowed old calendars and embroidered wall hangings. Looking closer I saw one small embroidery was hand-stitched with a bible verse, surrounded by happy flowers: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
While we waited, we asked her son, Steve, how he’s doing in school.
“Good,” he mumbled, like a typical teenage boy. We pushed harder until he finally put aside his 7th grade indifference and began to talk freely. Before, there were days he had to miss school because his parents couldn’t afford to buy him shoes. Now, he doesn’t take this opportunity for granted. His grades are exceptional. He confessed to us his dream. “When I grow up I want to work in hospitality management.”
“Why?” we ask.
His neighbor is a hotel manager, and he has a good house, Steve admitted. There’s also a chance that the President might come to his hotel, and that would be very exciting. It’s a practical dream, but it’s achievable. It’s possible because he has excellent grades and because of his family. Because of his parents.
Once outside, Hannah hands me a large package, wrapped in a yellowed plastic tarp and tied up with string, like a huge present. I balance it awkwardly. It takes me a minute to realize, “Oh, this is your irrigation pump.”
Kuyu, the marketing manager for Kickstart, whispers to me softly, “It’s funny that she wraps her irrigation pump up like this. It’s chip-resistant paint so it’s not going to rust or be damaged.” Hannah has had her pump for two years. It still looks brand new.
We tread carefully down a slope to her small garden, walking through trees until we reach a clearing where the sky opens up before us. Fruits and vegetables of every variety lay in neat little rows. Huge fuchsia flowers bloom wildly along her fence. It’s an unexpected Eden.
Carefully, Hannah unwraps her pump and goes to work. Her farming business has tripled since she purchased her irrigation pump, a fact she is keenly aware of.
“The irony of Africa is that 75% of all subsistence farmers’ children go hungry, for they cannot even grow enough to feed their own families.”
Her story is not unique. The benefits of one pump are astronomical. One pump has the ability to move a farmer and their family from poverty into the middle class in just one harvest. This is what happened to Hannah.
The irony of Africa is that 75% of all subsistence farmers’ children go hungry, for they cannot even grow enough to feed their own families. With an irrigation pump, farmers suddenly grow so much food that they can sell their surplus in local markets. Earning enough to suddenly send an average of 1.5 of their children to school for the first time.
After Hannah finished her watering, she grabbed an old bucket, filled it with water from her small well, and did something unexpected. She began painstakingly washing every inch of her pump free of mud and dirt. Carefully. Methodically. As if she was caring for a precious child.
After twenty long minutes later, she carefully took her pump, laid it on the plastic tarp and tied it up with string. I asked if she did this routine every day.
“No,” Hannah replied. “Plants only need to be watered every other day.” In her own way, she answered my question. I took my notebook out of my backpack and wrote one word in the margin. Value.
Hannah and her husband bought this pump themselves. What The Adventure Project raises helps to subsidize the costs, so that the pump can be sold at an affordable price. This way, farmers feel invested and dignified. No determined farmer is too destitute to pay, and Kickstart even developed a layaway program for those truly in need.
With the income generated from selling her crops, Hannah has invested in chickens; she sells eggs alongside her produce. She can also afford her son’s school fees and he will never miss school again because they can’t afford to buy him socks and shoes.
Another benefit is, she’s no longer toiling all day under the hot sun, carrying a bucket, plopping water and drenching seedlings. Hannah now has time for her favorite activity, she tells us joyfully — teaching Sunday School at her church.
What a precious investment.
This is story I want you to be part of. There is no longing. No begging. No swollen bellies or hungry eyes. If there are tears, they are mine. And maybe yours. Welling with happiness. Just look at Hannah’s face. Her smile and joy. For me, I know I’ve found my calling. The opportunity to play a role in giving something more valuable than gold; a good job.