Josphine conquered hunger
For many years Josphine Mutwii and her family went hungry. They survived thanks to food assistance. As soon as the food arrived, she queued up for her ration. A few years have now passed since she stood there, begging. But the memory of going hungry hasn’t left her.
“You can’t think properly. The only thing going through your head is, ‘I’ve got nothing to eat, I have no food to give to my children’.”
She looks down at her dry, worn hands.
“It feels like you’re going to be sick. But your stomach is empty. There’s nothing to be sick with.”
She slowly shakes her head. Then a smile suddenly spreads over her face.
“Today, I have plenty of food,” she says.
Grows her own food
Josphine is part of the project Diakonia supports in Kitui, growing her crops using an intelligent method that conserves water. She shows us around her lush fields.
“Thanks to the project, I’ve managed to really improve life for my family. The kids go to school and we have enough food to eat,” she says.
Josphine is one of the farmers who has already taken the next step in the project. She hasn’t stopped at simply providing food for her family. She has started to sell tomatoes, onions, spinach, papaya, cassava and yams at the market.
“Watch out! Be careful where you’re putting your feet! If you put them in the wrong place, that’s my money you’re treading on,” she says, laughing.
Helps neighbours with intelligent farming
Josphine is a true change maker. Providing for her own family is not sufficient. She wants everyone in her neighbourhood to improve their quality of life. This is why she has encouraged all her neighbours to use the same intelligent method of farming as she does. Today 24 of them have already dug their own reservoirs and planting pits. Many more are under construction.
“I go round and check that they plant their crops and manage the irrigation properly,” she says with authority in her voice.
“I can’t grow enough for everyone in the village, but I can help my neighbours to start growing things in the same way themselves. That way, we’ll all have enough to eat.”
Josphine is small and slender. It’s hard to imagine that she and her husband have dug the two-metre-deep reservoir and 3,000 planting pits.
“Look,” she says, pulling up her sleeves to show her thin, sinewy arms.
“My husband looks the same. But we do the digging together. We sing while we’re doing it. That makes things easier.”
She jumps down into the new reservoir that they’ve started to dig and shows how it’s done. She smiles while she’s singing.
The future looks bright
“I’m 65 years old, but when I look out over my fields, I feel younger than ever.”
Next year she hopes to be able to buy her own cow.
“Then I’ll milk it like this,” she says, moving her arms up and down and making milking movements with her hands.
“And the year after that, I’ll sell even more vegetables and buy a car. I’ll buy my own car and park it right here,” she says, pointing decisively at the small open space in front of us.
My very own car!”
Sells seedlings and earns money
She proudly shows us her little nursery.
“You know what, this is what I’ve been thinking: Those who sell me the seedlings have grown them with their own hands. I also have hands. Why can’t I grow them myself? It’s much cheaper to buy seeds than to buy seedlings.”
Now Josphine has so many seedlings that she can sell them and make money from them.
“Now that I have food, I can relax. I go out into the fields and collect some lentils, go to the market and sell them, and then I let the money slide down into my pocket.”
She shows us this with her hands, with a big smile on her face.
“Then I go and buy meat and go home and call out to my husband, ‘Come and eat! We’re having meat today!’
That’s how good my life is now.”