Zambia: Chibombo Orphanage
ALICE Chanda is an orphan living at a farm in Chibombo, she was forced by circumstances to relocate from Lusaka having lost a father close to 13 years ago now.
A bubbly Chanda narrates her ordeal while serving clients at the newly opened farm market situated on the Great North road operated by an orphanage called All Children can learn Zambia.
Chanda, 21, recounts that everything was all bliss in the capital city until 1994 when her father who was a businessman died and this cast doom for the family forcing her widowed mother Irene Sinkala who along with seven siblings set out to go and settle at Kaping'a farm in search of a living.
Ms Sinkala, 51, is a peasant farmer who provides food for her family through this means but the yield is only enough for consumption and not sufficient to sell and raise a reasonable income for the family. This means that Ms Sinkala cannot afford to sponsor her children to school and as a result, Chanda dropped out of school when she was in grade nine.
Since the time she left school, Chanda has been working closely with her mother helping out with the household chores with no hope of ever improving her life.
But in October last year, light showed on her again when she and ten other youths in Chibombo were recruited as part time students to learn agricultural skills in conservation farming and youth entrepreneurship.
" It is one year now since I started my training and my life has changed so much I now know how to plant crops and nurture based on the lessons in class and from knowledge which I get from some literature which is provided to us.
"With this I look forward to owning my own farm and putting all my knowledge into practice then I intend to go back to school to finish my studies after raising enough resources," Chanda said.
The students under the able tutorship of agriculturist Joseph Mukanga cultivate fields on the farm land with an emphasis on village level technology maximise on land and time with no wasted resources.
Wood is stockpiled during stumping of the farm and it goes for fires for preparing lunchtime cooking. The goal in the fields is to utilise fertiliser and drip irrigation, rather than embark on capital-intensive labour and wasteful spraying and watering while agricultural lime is used to neutralise the acidic soil for the crops to thrive.
During a visit to the farm Mr Mukanga explained that among the crops grown, maize, soya beans and groundnuts, the students also grow vegetables throughout the season using the irrigation method, which they later sell to near-by Ibis gardens and Fringilla lodges.
The resources realised from these sales are then channeled towards the running of the orphanage which currently accommodates five boys aged between five and seven years and are being cared for by house mothers Mirriam Sakala and Rose Ngoma.
The students are also taught how to keep rabbits and poultry farming. They will spend their last leg of training on stints on animal husbandry.
The orphanage also has a tractor and two oxen to help the students in the transportation of farm produce and farm in-puts.
In addition plans are under way for the orphanage to venture into fish farming for both consumption and for sale and when electricity is connected, the next step will be to install a cold room for storage of farm produce such as fresh milk cheese and yogurt.
The students also learn business and marketing skills for managing the sale of their produce and they put their skills into practice by taking turns to sell their produce at the farm market.
As part of generating income, they have also approached the farming community and entered into a partnership whereby after selling the farm produce for them, the students gain 15 per cent of the profit made which goes to the welfare and care of the orphans.
On completion of their three-year training programme, the students will be empowered with five acres of land, each which will be leased to them on title through a partnership programme.
Aid and Assistance
Children and Youth
" The end result is that all the students we have here will not go out there to seek employment as farm labourers but they will turn into farmers and be their own employers bearing in mind that they have the technical know -how which they can simply put into practice, " Mr Mukanga said.
With the skills imparted in them, some have learnt to make grill doors and burglar bars using a welding machine, which was donated by a charitable organisation. They in turn are able to sell these to the surrounding community.
The students have learnt how to make the nutritious soya milk using a vita goat machine, which is operated by a pedal. They are also able to make tomato paste, peanut butter and jams using the same machine.