African widow empowered to dream big for her ten childrenJulie Smith
For over five years, Susan* and her ten children lived in a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the Ituri Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ethnic conflict had claimed the life of her husband, leaving her and her kids to live on sporadic handouts from charity organizations in order to survive. The best Susan could hope for in providing for her family at that time was to either wait for a truck to pass by with some corn flour or wait to die.
Last year, the local church in Bunia (the capital city of Ituri Province) launched our Father’s Family program, and the group picked three of Susan’s most malnourished children to enroll in the local school where they could receive food and education. The church also selected Susan to join Father’s Family so she could learn vital skills that could strengthen her family and gain a strong support system.
With three of her children gaining food and knowledge through school, Susan’s first goal was to provide at least one meal a day for the rest of her seven children. One of the core micro skills taught through Father’s Family is finances and money management, so she began saving money from her casual labor payment. Despite some difficulties, Susan was able to meet her goal in four months. Encouraged by what she had accomplished, she began to dream bigger and set a goal of renting a small room located out of the IDP camp. Once she had a room rented, she met another goal to buy a goat. Susan became unstoppable!
The rented space gave Susan enough room to practice sac gardening, another skill she had learned through Father’s Family. Nearby, there sat a huge piece of vacant land owned by the Anglican Church University, and she thought that if she could ask to grow her garden on a small portion of it for a few months, it could make a tremendous difference for her family. Susan gathered the confidence to walk into the compound and was helped to meet the University Chancellor. He was aware of the Father’s Family program, and instead of offering up a small portion, he gave enough land for Susan’s entire Father’s Family group to grow food there for an entire year!
The group showed their appreciation at their first harvest by donating a small portion of potatoes to the Chancellor’s family, which was enough to last them for an entire month! The sweet potatoes from the group’s garden will feed their families and enable them to sell some in the market in order to meet other needs. Susan had never dreamed that should could provide for her family’s basic needs, but with the local church and surrounding community behind her, she can accomplish any goal she sets out to achieve.
*Real name has been changed