Yesterday I accompanied Elina, Jessy and Emeli out for the every-two-week trip to Muchochoma Village to spend time with our outreach project there with 12 women. The women spend most time just chatting, swapping stories and laughs, but are also intentional in encouraging each other, talking about hardships and triumphs. The trip concludes with quality checks of their handmade Village Twist bracelets and payment for them. It’s a great time of community, and the “Chikondi Club” as they’ve named it is thriving.
It was my joy to get to accompany our CiH ladies on this particular trip, getting to re-connect with dear friends in the village and hear just how this program is literally transforming this village. With a bring-your-own-feed-sack rule, we all huddled under the shade of 3 big mango trees surrounded by 6 feet tall maize stalks for a fun day. And I walked away understanding this even more:
Development works. Work works.
Through our bracelet training and production program, women are able to earn a fair wage, an income that adds to the community and a skill that empowers. The women take pride in the quality of their bracelets. Women are now motivated to refine their skill, to keep on learning and to see even more changes come about in the lives of their families and in their village.
Who knew?! Instead of life being just about bracelets, the bracelets have spurred women on to seek other sources of income, to test new crops in their fields, and to take pride in working hard.
The improvements that come about from development-based programs like ours are usually difficult to see in the short-term. But yesterday it was incredible seeing just a few ways that the new income from Village Twist bracelets is transforming this village and its people.
1. There’s a new sweet potato farm that will be harvested in May. A few of the women from the CiH: Muchochoma group came straight from weeding and aerating that plot to attend our meeting yesterday.
2. They’ve used their new income to build their first official community building: a church. Never before have they had a common space to meet other than under the shade of mango trees. This church building is complete with grass siding, plastic sheeting roof and log benches.
3. The maize fields are higher and healthier than ever with the ability to purchase great fertilizer, learn about better farming practices, and stay motivated to care for their fields properly.
And the best part: the women love the program, the work, the new friendships, the visits from Lusaka ladies every 2 weeks, and opening up their hut to share the freshest batch of boiled yams and pumpkins with us.
With a trunk full of maize, pumpkins, and yams, we smiled all the way home knowing that Village Twist bracelets are more than a fun accessory. They are a method for changing a village for the better by the hands of its own people. Now that’s good stuff.
With Chikondi, Amy