“My life has changed…”
Christine explained as she walked us through her shop front with such pride.
“The sewing machine and my kiosk, it helps me to get income when the fruit trees are in off season.”
As we spent time with Christine, we saw a woman who was proud of what she had built for her family, and who had such an energy and passion for life. And it was infectious.
See, there was a time recently that she and her family felt stuck.
Christine, her husband Urbanas, and their three children lived in a region of Kenya where food supply was scarce after years of drought and inconsistent harvests.
Employment was difficult to maintain and people often had to leave their families for extended periods of time to travel to the city in search of work.
“My husband used to earn very little income to sustain us in town.”
Christine explained how she felt the strain of providing for meals for the family on a daily basis and the pressure that came with worrying about the cost of her three children’s education.
She tried to grow crops of fruit and vegetables, but didn’t have the skills or equipment to turn it into a flourishing business.
But then the opportunity came for Christine to be involved in a food assistance program funded by Thankyou’s food range.
This meant Christine and her family were provided with immediate food aid so that she no longer had to stress about where the next meal was going to come from. As the community’s immediate food needs were met, the program also focused on helping community members become independent and self reliant — essentially, it was about long-term empowerment and sustainability.
“Then I joined World Vision (our impact partner), and that is how I started farming.”
The program taught Christine and her other community members improved farming methods which included being trained in the importance of fertiliser, irrigation, crop diversification, and soil conservation.
“That (training) helped me to change my farm.”
“I’ve been getting more harvest than before.”
“The fruit trees started producing fruit.”
It took time and patience, but through dedication her crops started to grow, and over time they grew in abundance.
“I now have 144 orange trees, 100 paw paw trees and 25 mango trees.”
“My farming has really helped me pay for uniforms, food, and school fees for my children.”
And the sewing machine at her kiosk? With the finances from their crops, Christine has started a sewing business for extra income to sustain her family in the non-harvesting season.
She is confident and hopeful about her family’s future. Her husband no longer has to travel to the city for work, and spends his time at home tending to their fruit and vegetable export business.
The thing with education is that it creates the best kind of ripple effect.
Christine has been empowered to be a change-maker and a positive influence in her community.
Photography: Kim Cartmell