It is a cold Thursday in Thafeni, a small village approximately 50 kilometers from Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Somewhere among a group of 172 members of the Sukuma Poultry Project is Ms. Cynthia Khambule, 54. Dressed in a brown skirt, red takkies, a brown jersey and a warm red scarf, Cynthia, together with the other project members, is attending chicken management training organized by Heifer International South Africa (Heifer). For Cynthia, training is another step toward becoming a small successful farmer who no longer will have to suffer with food and income insecurity. But Cynthia and her family have had to wait many years for change to come.
Heifer partners with poor rural communities in South Africa and assists them in achieving food and income security and self-sustainability. First, project members participate in various trainings to learn how to become successful small farmers. Once the skills are in place, Heifer provides them with livestock, trees and seeds. With knowledge, vegetable gardens and animals received from Heifer, they become small farmers who produce healthy food for their families and generate income through selling products such as milk, eggs and vegetables.
Cynthia is a single woman and the only breadwinner of her family of seven. Just a few months ago, her family's financial well-being depended on small part-time jobs that she managed to find from time-to-time. But without a permanent income, the family struggled with food insecurity. Not having a warm and healthy meal was part of everyday life. At the beginning of 2011, Cynthia started her journey with Heifer and Cynthia's family's life started to change.
Cynthia became one of 172 project members of Heifer's Sukuma Poultry Project. During the first couple of months, she participated in various trainings, such as Heifer Cornerstones, community skills, vegetable management and record keeping. In June 2011, Cynthia received fruit trees from Heifer, as well as onion, cabbage and spinach seedlings.
With new skills gained through trainings and a gift of vegetable seedlings and fruit trees, Cynthia began her own food garden. She planted beetroot and carrots and started to grow fresh food. Soon, Cynthia and her family began to see a positive difference.
I can see change. Now I am able to get vegetables from my own garden and cook for my family. We eat rice, beans, potatoes and sometimes meat. Since I have a fruit and vegetable garden, we are also able to eat fruit regularly. Cynthia, South Africa
After several months of receiving training and planting her vegetable garden and fruit trees, Cynthia and her family received a life-changing gift from Heifer. In November 2011, Heifer provided Cynthia with 31 chickens. With knowledge about chicken management, a gift of livestock, as well as determination and hard work, she is on her way to becoming a small successful farmer who produces eggs to eat and sell.
Cynthia has just started her long journey toward a better future. But she already sees the changes that participating in the project has brought in her life. When asked about expectations from the project, she said, "I wish to see the continuation, so that Heifer will assist others as well."