Being blind for 20 years had been a nightmare for 80-year-old Jeremiah from Mbasela village in Luanshya, Zambia. The disability has meant he has been barely abe to provide for his family.
Jeremiah is married and has 10 children. They moved to Mbasela village in 1987 when Jeremiah retired from the Kalulushi mine. Jeremiah decided to settle in the village with and engage in commercial farming, but limited resources kept him from achieving his dreams.
At 60, Jeremiah lost his sight when a branch fell on him as he was trying to cut down trees on his farm.
"I spent a lot of money just to have my sight restored, but all was in vain," he said. "I became so desperate that I sold 10 hectares (24.7 acres) of land so that I could raise money for my medication."
After losing his sight, Jeremiah lost all hope. He thought he had lost everything. He could hardly provide for his family. Three of his children had to drop out of school. At one point, Jeremiah thought death was the only solution to his problems.
"I suffered for a long time and even thought of committing suicide," Jeremiah said. "The only thing that kept me alive was the faith I had in God. I knew God would provide for me and my family at the right time."
Life changed in 2011 when he joined a group in his village that was scheduled to receive trainings from Heifer International. In November of that year, the group was screened and later received dairy heifers as participants of the Copperbelt Rural Livelihoods Enhancement Support Project (CRLESP).
"Before joining the group, I became hesitant," Jeremiah said. "I thought I would be rejected by Heifer International due to the condition I was in. I thank God I was accepted by the group and later received a dairy heifer, which has helped me in so many ways."
Since receiving his heifer, Jeremiah's income has diversified. He has been taking milk to the collection center and earns about $100 monthly. This money has helped him pay school fees for his three grandchildren.
Jeremiah passed on one heifer and now has two cows. He has bought two pigs and plans to construct a permanent house in future.
"I now know Heifer International helps the vulnerable," Jeremiah said. "Even without my eye-sight, I feel empowered. It is better for one to be empowered than having eyes and do nothing at all. I thank God for Heifer."
Story and photos courtesy of Heifer Zambia