This summer, we are exploring the path from Farm to Table - exploring the many issues smallholder farmers face around the world.
The life of a farmer and a mother are not so different. Between planting, nourishing, waiting, and protecting, both jobs are equally demanding, while remaining unconditionally rewarding. Farmers may raise crops and mothers their children, but both desire growth and prosperity as their ultimate outcome.
Lucia Enacio raises both.
As a mother to nine lively children and the sole owner of her family’s farm, Lucia has both of her hands full. All forty one years of her life, Lucia has lived in a small rural village in Mozambique. Here she has experienced both struggle and joy; beauty and tragedy. She recalls, “These are my hopes for the future,” as she lists the names of her children; ranging from age four to about thirty. After Lucia’s husband died three years ago, her life took an unexpected turn. The last year of his life was spent at home, bed stricken, as Lucia worked diligently, attempting to both nurse him back to health and maintain the farm. Unfortunately, no amount of vigor could have saved Lucia’s husband from his sickness. He died soon after he was turned away from the hospital. Suddenly, the farmer’s wife was left alone. From that day on, the fields seemed to lose their golden glimmer and life itself became a brutal reality.
Lucia has not always been a farmer. For the majority of her life, she was a farmer’s wife and a loving mother. Being thrown into this new role, while also grieving her late husband, she was forced to make a decision; choose to get up each day and carry on, or let discouragement overwhelm her. The latter was not an option for this mother. Lucia watched as grief became her strength, and pain her diligence while working on the farm. Although the challenge of learning a new trade was great, her love for her children and desire to provide them with a better future was greater.
Unfortunately, though Lucia had all the willpower necessary to be successful in the farming industry, she lacked the financial training and capital to do so. With five of her children already married and the other four enrolled in school, she found herself alone in the fields during most working hours. The children helped her as much as possible, but over seven acres of land called for more hands. With each coming day it began increasingly more difficult to put food on the table as well as keep up with the children’s school fees. Those days it was like a dark cloud had fallen over the farm. Lucia was struggling to make ends meet, and running out of options.
A new season of support and stability started to unfold when Lucia joined an Opportunity International Trust Group. She said, “I have received a lot of support from Opportunity. I have learned about setting up a business plan and how to manage my loan.” Lucia invested her loan by purchasing farming materials like seeds and fertilizer in bulk and hiring laborers to help her during the harvest. Before long, the bountiful fields she had once called home were beginning to come alive again. Lucia began to maximize her returns as both a mother and farmer as she was able to invest in her own business and also back into her family. Crops were plentiful and her children thrived both in school and at home.
Lucia’s harvesting hands have stretched farther than her own farm and family. She has also cultivated fruitful relationships with her new employees, the other women in her Trust Group, and various people in her community. All of them count their lives as better off because of it. As a result of Lucia’s fight for prosperity, one of her full time employees is now able to send all of his sons to school. The harvester-mother has raised a beautiful farm and family. She has provided both with a bright future and paved the way for a new generation. Now, Lucia raises a community of laborers to join her in doing the same. Together, they are empowered to glean all that they can from life.
Lucia already had everything she needed to be successful on the farm inside of her. With a little training and direction, the farmer mother was empowered to be all that she could be for her family and an endless number of future generations.
Allie is a 2015 Summer Marketing Intern at Opportunity International. When she's not writing for Opportunity, she studies Marketing and Finance at Bethel University.