By the southern bend of a slow running river in T/A Mdola, Salima, dwells the Mili Family. Msuda Mili and his wife Mauasiyani were blessed with 6 children, 3 sons and 3 daughters. Having raised their children in hardship, they still live without enough food and the basic supplies they now need in their old age. Some of their children have migrated to other parts of the district and beyond in search of work and other livelihood opportunities, while two have remained close by.
One of these children is their daughter Violet (26), now married to Yamikani Kadzika. Msuda (86) and Mauasiyeni (66) are highly dependent on and their daughter and son-in-law. The Kadzika family have four children aged between 2 and 11. They do not have a viable livelihood source and so mainly depend on begging and Ganyu (piecework) for food and other household needs.
The Milis other child, Masulani, Violets older brother, whose home is next to his sisters, often comes to the aid of both his siters family and his parents. Masulani has a family of his own, with young children, and looking after these two other families over-stretches what he has. The active labour force for these three (3) households is very limited.
Msuda and Mauasiyeni share a little house that they can barely stretch out in. It overlooks Violets khonde (veranda). Violets house is no better with four children and her husband to share it. Masulani’s house seems a bit better, and he has tried to put up a grass fence to give him and his family some form of privacy. As the growing season is in its peak, the three households look out at the bare land stretched out before them, as a lack of farm inputs and pesticides force them to put their heritage to waste.
|Violet and her children|
A cycle of broken dreams for the Mili’s grandchildren seems to creep in as they are in and out of school. The expenses attached to the ‘free’ education system forces them to drop out of school. None of Violets or Masulani’s children have completed standard one. Some have outgrown the class, but often return when they have some money to spare.
As we pondered and thought of what kind of support this family needs, our attention is drawn to the river flowing a few steps from their houses. The tall green grass along the river side gives an illusion of underutilized vegetation. Curiosity finally wins, and we cut short our chit chat and we walked around and saw patches of previous attempts to put the river to use. Masulani grabbed hold of our unasked questions and explains; “tinayesapo kulima, koma zilombo zimaononga mbeu zonse, ndiye sitidapindulepo. (we tried farming but pests destroyed most of the crop, that we ended up not benefiting a thing from it).
Despite this explanation, our focus remains on the river. The river promises opportunity for the Mili and Kadzika families; they could produce various vegetables not only for consumption but as a source of income for the household. This thought has not escaped the family, but the reality on the ground is that they cannot afford to cultivate this land, as it requires expertise and inputs that are currently out of their reach.
How can we help? (a) By sourcing a local agricultural extension worker to survey the land and give advice on how best they could irrigate the land, (b) by providing them with the tools they need to cultivate this land, (c) by providing the start-up material they need.
Let us help these three households tap into this river of hope and bring change to our beloved country, ‘one household at a time.’