Hi! My name is Leona. I live in Zimbabwe.
I am married to Tsvakai, a Reformed Church ( Dutch ) Pastor, and we have three children – one is in high school, and the other two are in primary school.
We live in a very poor rural area.
Generally pastors are among the poorest of the poor because they are paid such a small stipend. More so for rural pastors like Tsvakai. Our family struggled to send the children to school and put food on the table as well.
I heard about micro-loans at an ALFA meeting and eagerly applied.
How Microlend helped
When I received my loan money, I decided to embark on an egg production project.
The project started in November 2014 with 150 layer chicks. I was expecting 5 crates of eggs each day and selling them at $5 per crate (30 eggs in a crate). I keep my layer chickens in cages because the denomination that employs Tsvakai can move us anytime, so we cannot build permanent structures. We will move with our cages if needed, and continue the project.
With the help from my husband, my children, the veterinary department, and some church members, I am managing to run the project smoothly in spite of my disability. My leg was affected by an accident that happened when I was four years old, and I support it with a walking stick. I use a taxi to deliver my eggs. I pay three dollars a day to do the rounds, and then walk back home. Currently, I am supplying a nearby local hospital with 12 crates of eggs per week, local tuck shops and neighbouring families.
There are challenges however, caused by the cages which are not standard. Productivity goes down in winter, and in summer some chickens die of stress. Ways to improve these ordinary cages are being investigated with the help of the veterinary department.
In spite of all these challenges, I am so happy with the project and wish to expand it, and even diversifying it by also keeping the broiler chicks so as to double the income.
This project has helped improve the health of my family, solve monetary issues without borrowing from neighbours as before, and given me my own employment. My husband’s dignity as a pastor has been restored greatly, he doesn’t have to borrow from church members any more. Tsvakai is also managing further education because of the layers project which is becoming his best trusted source of income. “I used to wait anxiously for months, one time a full year, for my stipend from the church” says Tsvakai.
I am so happy with the knowledge I have acquired by keeping chickens, and with the unity of the family brought about by teamwork in keeping the chicks clean and healthy.