Loveness and her two sons, Tapiwa and Victor (above) struggled with poor health and hunger. After suffering from tuberculosis as a baby, Victor continues to experience respiratory problems. In the past, Loveness was frequently too sick to work and she and her boys regularly needed medicine to deal with severe diarrhea caused by contaminated water. Until recently, the family’s nutrition was very poor. Sometimes, when food was scarce, Loveness and her boys had to resort to searching for edible plants and fruits in the forest. Many days, they went to bed hungry as there was only enough for one or two meals.
With no money to rent accommodation, Loveness was grateful to find a small thatched roof hut where they could live in exchange for work in her landlord’s fields. Through perseverance and determination she developed a small plot of land to grow maize, used to make sadza, a thick porridge which is a staple of the rural Zimbabwean diet. When she was well enough, Loveness worked in other villagers’ fields to earn money for vegetables, school fees and other essentials.
Loveness’ days are full and start early, fetching water for washing and for the boys’ breakfast. She walks about one and a half kilometers four times each day for water from a shallow well that is used by local villagers as well as wild and domestic animals.
Loveness has no relatives able to help her. Her first husband became ill and died. She remarried, but her second husband abandoned the family. She battled loneliness and discouragement as she worked to overcome the overwhelming obstacles she faced to provide for her family on her own.
But life has changed. With Bopoma Villages’ help, Loveness has turned her life around.
She was trained in biointensive farming and nutrition and now has a complete Healthy Home. The Bopoma Villages Team helped her build a household “keyhole” garden which grows kale, tomatoes, spinach and other greens. Loveness was also encouraged to grow millet for porridge which contains more essential nutrients than maize.
With the training and assistance Loveness has received, her family is eating three meals every day and she no longer needs to work in other people’s fields for food. She now spends her time tending own garden and is building a second one to grow food to sell.
The farming methods Loveness learned have enabled her to multiply the yield that she can produce in such a small space. The garden requires less water than traditional garden plots, and no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Loveness was also taught how to use compost to revitalize her soil. All of these factors work together to equip Loveness to keep her garden flourishing year round.
Despite relying on a contaminated water source, the family’s BioSand filter provides them with clean water to drink and they now have a tippy-tap handwashing station. Every member of the family is experiencing better health and Loveness reports that she feels well enough to devote more time and energy to her household chores and garden. In the past, Loveness spent as much as $40 a week on hospital bills, but no more.
A rocket stove has dramatically reduced the family’s exposure to toxic smoke, particularly critical for Victor who has breathing problems. The rocket stove has also reduced the amount of firewood required for cooking, which means Loveness can spend less time searching for firewood and more time working in her garden and with her family.
For many years, Loveness was isolated and kept her struggles to herself. She is now receiving regular visits from a trained village volunteer who is encouraging her to join her village’s community garden and saving and loans group where she will meet and work with other women in similar circumstances. Our team reports that although Loveness was slow to trust in the beginning, she is now eager to learn all she can to improve her circumstances.
Loveness is greatly encouraged by the progress she has made. She is hoping to buy a small home of her own that she can pass on to her sons, who have their own hopes for the future. Tapiwa enjoys studying math and English and wants to be a teacher. Victor likes to work in the garden, and would like to be a police officer.
At Bopoma Villages, we are committed to giving Loveness and her family the training, skills, and support they need to make their dreams a reality.