During the last 9 years, we had to face many challenges, ranging from drought, floods, political shovelling, diseases and death. If you ask me how it is that we survived I will not hesitate to say that it was God, but what He used was trust relationships. From the start we had to build relationships with the local people even if we could not talk Chichewa.
There is something about a sincere heart, that moves beyond words. “When you touch me, I feel your heart and not your hand.”
We approached the project as a business that would financially sustain us and offer a surplus that could be applied to community development. Coming from a commercial cattle background, it seemed the most likely primary activity. We had to learn the hard way. The South African cattle struggled to adopt to the humidity and high temperatures, and we lost many, until we came to understand that God designed nature to find its own balance between the geographical challenges and the physical development of animals. This understanding brought about a drastic turn in our approach.
Later we introduced an investment opportunity for individuals to own cattle in the herd, but the challenges in communication and legal constrains on the slaughtering of animals, convinced us to relinquish the idea. Yet the people that jumped to the opportunity are still part of the program with a substantial growth in their livestock numbers. We redesigned the concept and will launch it in 2019 in South Africa.
The cattle form the backbone of the project, that has now diversified to other secondary activities, but it ensured that we could sustain our presence in the area, without being reliant on donations or other support.
Principles we learned:
A project must have a sustainable economic backbone that ensure financial support to ensure continued commitment from the people that is tasked to be the motivating force behind it.
True sustainable agriculture must grasp the balance God has established between the geographical location and the agricultural activities it was purposed for.