Donkeys Bring Development to a Village

December 5, 2013 • Kenya
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Providing livestock and training to a courageous group of women in Kenya has helped them improve their community and discover faith in Christ.

Mabamani village is located in the Kinango district of southern Kenya. Like most of the district, the area is dominated by poor soil on top of a basement rock system, making it agriculturally unproductive.

Women play a vital role in the running of households in Mabamani. Their daily responsibilities include cooking, taking care of children, gardening, fetching water and firewood, and sometimes looking for food when the men are away for casual labor.

Provide Livestock For Struggling FarmersA group of 17 women from the village decided to band together to solve the various problems affecting them. They named their group Maendeleo, which means development in Swahili, to indicate their quest for improving lives for themselves as individuals and the village as a whole.

For the first two years, the group engaged in various activities including performing songs for a fee in ceremonies and planting crops for sale. However, events such as weddings were not frequent, and it was difficult to grow crops because the area is dry and rocky with unreliable rainfall. The women would go for many months without income.

Donkeys Kenya

In 2011, Samaritan’s Purse gave 17 women in southern Kenya two donkeys, harnesses, a plow, and a cart.

Then Samaritan’s Purse selected Mabamani village for a livestock project. The women were given two donkeys, harnesses, a plow, and a cart. We provided training on animal draft power (ADP) technology including how to handle a donkey, improved plowing, and transportation of materials using a donkey cart. This proved to be a major milestone for the group.

“We thank Samaritan’s Purse for the assistance we have received,” said their chairwoman, Mama Mlong. “As women, we used to walk for long distances to fetch water and firewood, taking all our time and energy. Now with the help of the donkeys, we are able to get water quickly, and we have enough to use for cooking and bathing. The general hygiene in our homes has drastically improved.”

Evelyn Kache, a mother of three, said the donkeys have helped her family take full advantage of the wet season by growing legumes on the shallow soils.

“Before the introduction of this project in our group, I used to plow up to one acre of land per season,” she said. “But now I plow up to four acres, so I get a greater harvest when the rains are adequate.”

Donkeys Kenya

The donkeys provided by Samaritan’s Purse allow the women to fetch water much more quickly, which has improved hygiene in their homes.

During the dry season, water is scarce in the village. Everyone has to fetch water from the nearest water pan almost two miles away. But Evelyn said the donkey-drawn cart has made trips much easier, and they can even reach pans that are farther away if needed.

This project has also helped increase agricultural production in the area because the donkeys can transport manure for the crops. In addition, the women have earned income from hiring out the animals to help carry the manure and also stones for construction projects.

Mama Mlongo said the extra income is multiplying as it is invested in the women’s catering business.

“We can now get orders from other groups to provide catering services,” she said. “We use the money from the donkey hire outs to buy food items, and we are paid later.”

The donkey project has had a profound spiritual impact as well.

“By the time Samaritan’s Purse reached our village, I was neither a Muslim nor a Christian,” Evelyn said. “I have since given my life to Jesus, and I believe my husband will follow suit someday.”

The Maendeleo group set out on a path to change their community, and now these courageous women are achieving their dream of bringing development to their families and the entire village.