Gabriel (56) and Regina Nkuta (48) proudly showed me their newly built house with its sheet metal roof. The last time I visited them, they were living in a grass-thatched house. A sheet metal roof signifies upward social-economic mobility. I could see other signs of things getting better for the Nkutas. Three of their children were not going to school last year due to financial challenges – now they are in school. The family also acquired a new asset – pigs!
|Regina shows off her tomatoes|
Their improved life can be attributed to the influence of THRIVE. Although Gabriel and Regina are deaf, they are keen students. “Even though they are unable to hear, they under-stand what I teach them by reading my lips,” said Judith, the local lead farmer and THRIVE volunteer (pictured above left with Gabriel and Regina). Gabriel and Regina could not afford to buy chemical fertilizers for their cornfield so their yields were low, but Judith taught them how to make natural and inexpensive fertilizer from composted manure. As a result, they have seen an increase in their yield. Rural farmers like Gabriel and Regina are living below the poverty line. Increasing crop yields help them increase their income, allowing them to have the resources to care for their family.
Gabriel and Regina are diversifying their farming activities not only for increased income, but also as a cushion against the impact of natural calamities such as droughts. In addition to corn, which is prone to droughts and pest attacks, they also grow tomatoes on a very small scale. I was intrigued by their new farming activity - pig rearing. After the pigs multi-plied, they loaned out breeding stock to their neighbors. The neighbors will return the breeding stock and a certain number of the offspring. Gabriel and Regina now have something to fall back on in the event of a crisis in one of their farming endeavors. THRIVE helps empower farmers to diversify as a safety net for their family in-come.
The future for Gabriel and Regina’s children looks promising. Gabriel was top of his class but had to stop school after becoming deaf in the fifth grade. Regina became deaf in the first grade but persisted until she dropped out in the third grade. Together, the couple resolved to work hard so that their children are less vulnerable. Thanks to THRIVE, their hard work is paying off.
Through World Vision’s THRIVE project, the Nkuta family is turning their hard work and new farming skills into a better life for themselves and their 9 children. As World Vision works with farmers like Gabriel and Regina, they can help themselves step further away from poverty.