How had all this come about? One of the strategies that World Vision has used is the group strategy. There are 21 members in this group and they have all worked together and supported each other and combined their labour, income and resources. They have learned how to collaborate and manage responsibilities and they have worked closely with the Department of Agriculture who have provided advice through their extension workers.
Was it really as good as it looked? I learned that it had not all been plain sailing. Firstly, there had been drought and the spring had dried up a little. Despite that, the group was planning to mitigate future droughts by building a small dam near another spring further away over the hill. They would then run a pipe from that dam to their plants. Secondly, the orchard was not growing as well as it could. It needed more management and care. It is also probable that more quality control needed to be conducted with the fruit, especially if they were going to be sold. On the other hand the greenhouse was doing well. It meant that summer crops could still be grown in winter, they could control the rain and could protect the crops from the wind. There were drip irrigation systems in place which provided an efficient use of water.
The group had branched out into chicken farming as well. They were selling to individual buyers and purchasing chickens for their own use. They were beginning to look at possible markets in a nearby town with institutions such as the prison, schools, hotels and clinics. However, they recognised that to be really competitive with the chickens coming across the border from South Africa, they needed a freezer so they could slaughter their own chickens and have them ready for the market when needed. That leads to an extension of the dream which is to electrify the chicken house.
This project has shown me that we can contribute to positive change. The signs are good that the initiatives taken so far will be sustainable; indeed, another poultry project nearby in another part of the project area is virtually independent of World Vision now. Perhaps the last word should go to Ntate Maphate, the local World Vision driver who gets to see perhaps more than almost anyone: “This is the best project I have seen.”