Changing a life: Christopher’s story

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Posted by Isla Gilmore | in Concern Blog | 23 December 2011

Recently, I received a great story from my colleagues Hovokela and Edna. It is about a Tanzanian farmer named Christopher whose life has been transformed by Concern Worldwide.

Meet Christopher Christopher Mademla is 48, and has five children. He was from a poor family so he didn’t progress past primary school. Neither did his first two children, as he couldn’t afford the school fees.

Dramatic change His life took a dramatic change when Concern and the Iringa district council improved the irrigation systems near his village. Christopher and other farmers from the area were able to improve their crop yields.

He was helped further by receiving farming training such as using quality seeds and managing soil fertility. For the first time in his life, Christopher almost doubled the amount of rice he harvested from one acre.

The next step Concern and Iringa district council selected Christopher to grow a small fruit garden and gave him seeds to start it. This is normal practice for Concern’s work, as it motivates others and provides a constant supply of quality seedlings for farmers.

From fruits alone, Christopher made one million shillings (€436) profit on the first harvest. In 2010, he won second prize at the Nane Nane exhibition for his garden and was awarded with an irrigation pump.

Onwards and upwards Feeling motivated, Christopher increased his farm to 20 acres for rice, making use of some land he inherited from his father. Now, he yields 33 bags of rice per acre. He has started processing and marketing the rice as part of a small farmers’ association in the village.

Helping the community Christopher is now teaching others in his community to be just like him and more people are now eating rice. His community has nominated him as a leader in their local organisation for improving irrigation. He is also branching out into other businesses – a guest house, an entertainment hall and a fish dam are already in progress.

Our charity work Impressive? We think so. And Christopher is not alone. Thanks to Concern’s projects, many farmers like him are doing really well. A great deal of our work focuses on giving seeds and food to extremely poor people. But, in the majority of cases, our work in Tanzania is about helping people manage their own long-term health, business and wealth. This, ultimately, is our goal.

So thanks Hovokela and Edna for such a fantastic story!