Helping to highlight Christian Aid Ireland’s Harvest Appeal this year is Knowledge Chikondo, a farmer living in eastern Zimbabwe. This is his story…
Knowledge Chikondo lives with his wife and three children in Kondo village, Mudzi district, eastern Zimbabwe. Knowledge struggled to make a living as a farmer until he was helped by a Christian Aid funded project called BRACT, which is run by a group of four local partner organisations including Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe (BIZ).
Knowledge explains the challenges he faced: “When I first started farming, life was really tough. The weather was erratic. Some years, we received decent rainfall but other years we got only a few very intense storms and then nothing. I was growing groundnuts and sorghum, but yields were poor and the income I got was too low to support my family. I had a real problem finding decent markets and the buyers I approached offered very low prices for my products.”
The 35-year-old farmer heard about the BRACT project when BIZ came to his village to survey the types of wild fruits that were available locally, such as a plum called Nhengeni (Ximmenia caffra). Nhengeni seeds contain a valuable oil that has anti-ageing properties and is used in making cosmetics.
“The good thing about wild fruit is that it grows on its own without any input from people. All you have to do is make sure the trees don’t get damaged and harvest the bounty each year,” said Knowledge. “I used to love eating Nhengeni fruits when I was a kid herding cattle with my friends but I never thought you could actually make money out of them until BRACT came along.”
Knowledge and his wife have been trained on harvesting and preparing the seeds and they work together.
He has also received training from Silveira House, another partner involved with the BRACT project. They have trained him to be a welder, which provides him with an additional source of income. As part of the project, he is a member of a collective that shares welding equipment and he’s also a member of a savings and loan group. Knowledge hopes to save enough money to buy a welding kit of his own and set up a welding business.
Knowledge explains how his life has improved: “I can provide for my family, pay school fees for my children and cover household expenses.”
He also feels that his participation in the project has raised his standing in the community: “When I first started collecting wild fruits, my friends thought it was foolish but now that they’ve seen my success, they all want to join in.”
Message from Christian Aid Ireland
This Harvest season, Christian Aid is inviting our supporters to join us in putting our faith into action – by considering leaving a gift in your Will to your church and to Christian Aid.
Gifts in Wills are a powerful way for our faith to live on and can create change that lasts for generations.
We have everything you need to inspire your congregation, in your own way, about gifts in Wills.
For more information, please visit caid.ie/harvest or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9064 8133 (Belfast) or 01 496 7040 (Dublin).