We spent a week with my family in Cecil Lake, the B.C. North Peace Country. After a serious drought last year things are looking much better now. There won’t be bumper crops this year either but they could be decent. My brother was pretty happy with the silage he made. In the week we were there they got a much needed 1.5 inches of rain.
But driving there and back again was pretty depressing. Most of the country is still really dry. Today we drove to the Edmonton airport to pick up our son and his wife from Switzerland. Things haven’t improved much since we last drove through there four weeks ago. As I said then looking down from the plane, “something is badly wrong here.”
Pastures are grazed bare, canola isn’t covering the stubble and is starting to bloom. Many Alberta communities have declared an agricultural disaster. I feel for the farmers. I know many farmers in the Westlock area don’t carry crop insurance because they rarely have a disaster. With input prices where they are, this is going to hurt.
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Pastor Jessy from Mpongwe, Zambia, sent us an email last week: “About the women loans there are a lot of good surprises. One lady from Nkumbu branch has really surprised the District considering that this is just a small and new branch. Before three months finishes this Lady has made about K500,000 that is minus the starting capital (K200,000). The business she started with was selling charcoal to Kitwe. She started with only 5 bags.
Generally all the Ladies are doing fine, l am confident that we shall collect all the money by end of July and sign the papers of first payment and then give them back money once more for the last intake.”
Back in March we taught these women some basic business principles. Later we decided to stick to farming projects for loans – after all, we were farmers and we were a little anxious about spreading ourselves too thin.
The women were quite upset when they heard that. “Marianne taught us about business and now they don’t want to give us loans for business. That can’t be.” Well, we were kind of stuck, weren’t we! So we decided to give 200,000 Zambian Kwachas each to ten women – that’s about Cdn$50 per woman.
They were anxious to get the money at the time (May 2009) as this was the season for business. The corn harvest starts in May to the end of June, and then people have money for awhile. The women wanted to cash in on that.
In development work we are often told that women are the most likely to succeed in business, most likely to return loans and also most likely to use the profit for the good of their family.
This project seems to substantiate that. Well, I am sure glad we gave those women that money! I look forward to meeting with them next time we’re there and hearing their stories.