Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Margret Chavula
My service as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer has not been what I had imagined mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions that came with it, which affected meetings, public gatherings, and businesses. However, amidst the pandemic, there has been a group of farmers that I have been working with closely, the Titukuke ndi Ulimi Farmers Group, which has outstandingly performed beyond expectations and hardships they have been going through due to the pandemic. These farmers were previously dependent on rain-fed crop husbandry farming. Unfortunately, the area was continuously hit by dry spells, which left them without enough yields to sustain their families. The farmers eventually contemplated venturing into animal husbandry farming, particularly poultry farming to broaden their scope, but lacked capital and funding to make their dreams a reality.
Luckily, there was a call for grant applications from World Connect. As a CorpsAfrica Volunteer I helped the group to write a project proposal on their intended project, which got approved for a grant. As a prerequisite for every CorpsAfrica project, the group was expected to contribute 15% of the total budget in-kind, which could be services and activities offered to make the project a reality and 10% in cash. Sourcing these community contributions, especially the cash contribution was a hard task since most sources of income that these farmers relied on were affected by the pandemic. Being a business venture that was to be run by the farmers in the group, contribution per individual was high to meet the 10% target. Most onlookers in the community doubted the abilities of the group to source the funds.
However, members of the group were determined to make their poultry farm dream a reality and tirelessly worked to source funds to meet their target. I was shocked and amazed at how fast these farmers were able to source the funds and I learnt that determination is key. Because these farmers were determined to change their yearly misfortune with the rains, they worked together as a team to collect their community contribution target. With such determination the group now has a sense of ownership on the project and the sustainability of the project is promising because the group is determined to see and experience an improved livelihood from the poultry project.