The sound of animals crying, gunshots, and screaming people fill the air. Fikiri and Denise run outside to see rebels stealing their animals and crops.
They know there is not much that can be done because if they fight back they will be killed. This is the reality for many in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). When the rebels are gone Denise and Fikiri make their way outside to see that everything is gone.
With defeated hearts, Denise and Fikiri try to find hope, and soon it comes. One day an organization comes into the ravaged village offering to help and claiming that they can help the villagers rebuild their livelihoods. Desperate for hope, the villagers willingly accept the help and at harvest time they begin to hope that their life may get better. The morning of the harvest a member of the organization returns and tells everyone they must pay back for the seeds given to them right now. The member takes ⅓ of each family’s harvest as payment, and leaves. Denise and Fikiri know in a single look that the remaining crop will not be enough to feed their family.
A year later Denise excitedly runs home after going to the market, eager to tell her husband about a new initiative by the local church. Besides the rebel groups attacking, there had also been a disease that spread across the entire community’s banana and cassava crop. Denise was an early adopter of new ideas, and despite the struggle her family lived through the past year she still had hope. Once she caught her breath she began talking, “the church has found a cure for the disease, and they want to train us how to stop the spread… for free!”
Fikiri was skeptical, his trust in outsiders was low since the organization from the previous year had taken so much from his family. Nothing was free, and even though his wife didn’t see it, he knew there must be an alternative motive to this ‘free’ gift.
As a way of protecting his family, Fikiri told his wife to use half the land to implement this new method but the other half would use the traditional methods. This ensured that the family would at least have some untouchable crop when the church asked for payback at harvest.
Denise attended the free agriculture training and sure enough, was able to eliminate the diseased crops. “My husband was so hesitant to receive help from others after our experience the previous year. I began to pray that he would learn to trust this church community.”
At harvest time something miraculous happened, “for days I put aside some crop for when the church came by to collect our debts, but they never came,” Fikiri continued, “at first I was confused why this was, but my wife was right, this church only wanted to love and to help us.”
Today, with the guidance and support of the church the family is growing not only disease-free bananas but has also expanded to grow cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, maize, and potatoes. Denise has become a beacon in her community, and every day is she working to share her knowledge and skills with the people in her neighbourhood.