Zambia - Women for Women: the mission and the projects of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Luwingu

08 March 2017

(ANS - Luwingu) - Situated in northern Zambia, Luwingu is a very small town. Until a few years ago, it was isolated from the rest of the country due to an almost non-existent road network and it is therefore economically backward. For years, subsistence agriculture and hunting were the main sources of food but they were highly inadequate in terms of quality and quantity. However, in 1984 the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) arrived n Luwingu.

At first, they were involved in the oratory and in literacy classes. Then the sisters opener the Don Bosco Primary School which operated under the trees and in a garage. Now it has more than 600 pupils and is the best school in the district.

The sisters then tried to start a vocational school for cutting and sewing. However, the local reality, with the population scattered in small clusters along the roads, made it necessary to transform the initial project (a fixed school) into a travelling workshop for young women.  The FMA reach the young people in their own centres, organizing them into small groups, and offering them Christian formation and human promotion. Currently there are nearly 30 groups scattered throughout the territory, with about 500 young women involved.

Recently, moreover, the FMA community has started a project called "Valponasca Learning Farm", a farm that offers vocational training in agriculture. It hopes to have an appreciable effect on local production.

The project involves 150 women and small farmers. It is based on three elements: periodic training; distribution of certified bean seeds and fertilizer; personal experience in the farm. This is meant to ensure the possibility to see, verify,  and share methodologies and results.

The initiative is marking the transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture, with a return that has increased threefold and potentially tenfold - and with a much higher quality product.

"Training and professionalism are the way to change even the most remote villages in the heart of Africa”, says Sr Elisa Tonello, FMA from Luwingu. “It is not enough to give the seed. There must also be training and a constant monitoring of progress so that the small farmers can share information and experience, feel united and reassured and dream of new developments"

For more information visit: Missioni Don Bosco


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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