It’s a hot afternoon with no clouds on the horizon, the heat is typical to the Democratic Republic of Congo but still surprises me during each visit.
She loves giving tours of the field because she personally knows how transformative this method is.
The demonstration field is not large but is full of healthy vegetables, fruits, and grains to share with the community. The church uses the field to show farmers how conservation agriculture can work. As astounding as the field is, it is Masika that makes you want to try this new method of farming, with her passion to see her community transformed. You see, Masika believes in conservation agriculture and savings groups so passionately because they It’s a hot afternoon with no clouds on the horizon, the heat is typical to the Democratic Republic of Congo but still surprises me during each visit saved her life.
Masika leads us to sit under the shade of a large tree to share her story and answer our many questions. She leans against the tree and begins explaining how last year her husband had abandoned their family, leaving her to care for their 8 children. At first, she was not sure what to do as he had always been the breadwinner, but she knew she had to do something.
“I heard about a local church who was offering free training on something called conservation agriculture and who was looking to start another village savings and loan group. Immediately I signed up and prayed that at least one of the groups would help.”
As she is talking, another lady walks by smiling and waves to Masika. She introduces herself as a friend who joined a conservation agriculture training after Masika had convinced her of the benefits. Smiling proudly, Masika grabs her friend’s hand and continues her story, telling us how the training changed her life. Her family went from maybe having one meal a day to eating two, plus extra to sell at the market.
Walking over to a tree in the demonstration crop she picks some bananas and brings them over to share. “In the DRC we have battled with a disease that destroys our banana crops,” her face breaks into a grin and laughingly she states, “since the training we are like monkeys and can eat them all the time!”
Before I can ask her about her experience with a savings group she explains how with the expansion of crop variety she now has more money in a week. In order to make the most of her income, the savings group is helping her to save for larger purchases. The group has given her a supportive social network, economic collateral, and the confidence to improve her situation.
Deciding to ask her one final question I ask her how she became involved with the demonstration field. Smiling, she answers saying,