2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6, Page #24[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Zambian Farm For Orphans Continues To Grow
All the boys are orphans or abandoned children that the former Minnesota social worker rescued from the streets, with the help of her Minnesota-based nonprofit organization, Action For Children-Zambia.
The three 3-bedroom “townhomes” on the farm – built with donated cement blocks – each house eight children and a Zambian couple to care for them. It follows McBrady’s focus on keeping children in a family setting so they learn social and practical skills and become part of a community.
“The boys run the farm and even helped put up the housing,” McBrady says. “We had a local contractor teach them, and they did all the labor themselves under his direction. The same with the poultry. Four boys will go spend two weeks at a very large chicken farm for two weeks during school holiday where they’ll get training, experience and skills to put to use in our poultry operation.”
With a donated brick-making machine and molds, the boys are now making their own blocks to build more buildings including chicken coops to hold 250 hens each.
“Slowly, we are becoming more sustainable,” she says. “What we really need is an infusion of building funds and starter animals. It’s just very expensive to start such activities.”
She is astounded when she thinks about how many children have gone through her home and program since she moved to Lusaka in 2004. About 75 have been educated and are now self-sustaining adults with jobs. About the same number are in her program now – in the city, on the farm or in homes of relatives.
With the growth of the farm, funds have been stretched thinner than ever, because there’s more children to feed, clothe and educate (an average of $50/term). Working the 50-acre farm is hard manual labor. With only hand tools, the boys – with some help from local villagers – have managed to dig up about 25 acres to grow maize (a food staple at most meals) and vegetables.
A couple of the boys have received agriculture education and incorporated conservation and best management practices such as rotation and preserving water. There’s a well on the farm, but water must be hand-pumped to irrigate the crops. Later this month when planting season begins, the boys will plant soya beans for the first time along with the maize and vegetables. Soya doesn’t require as much fertilizer as maize.
“Right now, the costs of fertilizer are very prohibitive to what we can produce,” McBrady says. The manure from the chickens will help, and the addition of pigs would be another big boost.
“The farm gives us food, skills and profit that we can use to help sustain the organization so we are not donor dependent for life,” she emphasizes.
McBrady flew to Minnesota in October to visit family and attend fundraisers through the end of November. Besides money, she is open to ideas, advice, volunteers and donations of basic items to help the farm continue to grow.
“We could use solar lighting, a hammer mill for grinding our own maize, a pump, tank and irrigation system for the well,” she says. Plus, the used pickup they purchased a couple years ago needs a new engine.
“As any parent, I worry that there won’t be enough resources for the work to continue and the children to be taken care of. But I have to trust that we’ll continue to grow and get more support,” McBrady says, noting that she has survived by faith and help from supporters of her all-volunteer organization.
The AFCZ website contains articles and more information about her organization.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Carol McBrady, Action For Children-Zambia, 20855 Kensington Blvd., Lakeville, Minn. 55044 (ph 952 469-6147; www.afczambia.org).
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