The Canadian Government might be disbanded, but that doesn’t stop them from collecting our taxes. It’s that time of year. And don’t think running away to Africa dispenses you from your duty!
Sometimes though, I see something paid with Canadian tax dollars that makes me feel really good. (In fact, every time you drive down a decent road, send your kids to a good public school that actually has text books and a library, and drop by your doctor expecting excellent affordable health care, you should be thanking God you live in Canada!)
Robert and I attended the agriculture Field Day at TransAfrica Theological College just outside Kitwe. The college is partnering with CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) to sponsor a community agriculture program. For the last year, members of the surrounding community – over 70% women – spent one day a week at the college for education in plant nutrition, soil science, and conservation farming. Each student was given a lima (one quarter hectare) as a practical project on which most of them grew peanuts. The student fields promise a good crop.
The school has a large demonstration field, on which they do research on various local crops, using conservation farming methods. A student was stationed at each crop as field man. I can only imagine their pride. A year ago they were just poor Zambians, now they are teaching others. This is empowerment.
An important emphasis of the program is learning to grow productive crops using alternative sources of fertilizer instead of the expensive chemical ones. They make compost utilizing widely available local sources, use animal manure, enrich the soil with leguminous crops and shrubs, and teach sustainable methods of land preparation.
Part of the Field Day was the graduation of about 90 students from the community program. There were the obligatory speeches from local dignitaries and the school principal. A group of youth entertained us with traditional dances and a drama highlighting the importance of conservation farming. Then the graduates were called up, one by one.
Many of the graduates were older women. Some were shy, curtseying low before the dignitaries handing them their certificates. Others were jubilant, dancing up, singing and clapping their hands high over their heads. Zambians know how to put on a good show!
Now, all these people need is land to practise what they have learned. They gave a passionate appeal to the District Commissioner’s deputy for land, which he promised to pass on. I think if they want land, they’ll have to find it themselves – i.e. gather together as a group and rent a piece of land, or find an abandoned piece they can utilize, etc.