United Methodist Women Partner to Create Economic Opportunities In Zimbabwe

Nyengeterai Mafongoya holds a basket of 20-day-old chicks in Masvingo, Zimbabwe Source: UM News

As the COVID-19 pandemic crippled world economies, developing countries have had to grapple with an increase in the number of persons suffering with food insecurities. 

Combating food insecurities is not new for the women of the United Methodist Church.  Through partnerships and mission outreach, United Methodist Women are utilizing their diverse skills and talents to combat some of the most complex humanitarian issues in the developing world.  These range from food insecurity, access to clean safe drinking water, and providing educational opportunities for children who might not normally have them.

In keeping with the organization’s humanitarian focus, the United Methodist Women launched a partnership with the Masvingo (Zimbabwe) District of the UMC to create a sustainable poultry mission that provided 78 women with 20 chicks and feed.  The goal of the project was to raise the chicks allowing the women to cultivate an annual harvest of chickens and eggs that they could eat, sell, and barter for essential goods.

However, the onset of COVID-19 pandemic changed this $8,000 project by creating an immediate need for these women and their families.  Savvy business women, the United Methodist Women and their Zimbabwean counterparts began selling eggs and meat to restaurants and people in the community during this time of increased economic instability. 

Surprisingly, they were even able to sell manure to farmers as organic fertilizers.

This surge in income for the women has led some to open home-based banks, helping to create cultures of savings within their local communities.

Tendai Rebecca Gurupira, is the area coordinator for United Methodist Women spearheading the effort on the ground in Zimbabwe.  She remarked, “They have diversified. All are harvesting eggs and incubating some of the eggs, have different stages of chicks and are using by-products in other projects.

“Everyone has realized an income from the sales of excess cockerels (young roosters) and have plowed back the proceeds into the project by buying feed and other project-related demands.”

Rev. Jairous Mafondokoto, Masvingo District superintendent, said the project has been extremely helpful in unexpected ways by allowing families to create sustainable sources of income and to invest beyond their immediate households.

Rev. Mafondokoto said, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were cooped up, the poultry-rearing project provided occupational therapy, reducing stress and enhancing good health. Every beneficiary has a story to tell from the experience.”

One of the women to receive the initial grant of 20 chicks and feed was Rutendo Damba. She now has 27 chicks of diverse ages. “We now have improved diet from eggs and meat and I have gained a lot of knowledge and skills in poultry production,” Damba remarked.

Another program participant, Charity Chiwawa, 48, said that in her first batch of 20 birds, she had seven young roosters.  She sold her seven rosters to buy feed for her remaining hens.

Nyengeterai Mafongoya, 56, currently has more than 100 birds.  “My objective is to penetrate the male-dominated industry and become one of the (leading) day-old chick breeders in Masvingo town,” she said.

The United Methodist Women are optimistic that by strengthening partnerships like these in developing countries around the world, empowered women will empower their communities.

Source: UM News