By Jess Hamer
This is the second time that I have visited Litisha, and the second time I’ve left the village feeling totally inspired by the people there. The community are so motivated and are working hard to lift themselves and their children out of poverty. At COCO, we always listen to our partner communities to ensure that the programmes we support are exactly what they want and need, and that they are fully owned and led by the community. Litisha is an excellent example of how and why this works.
The community received sustainable agriculture training back in 2011. The Kimamba Group (the CBO that we partner with in Litisha) have a community farm, which has been a huge success, and with the profits they set up their own nursery school, first renting and existing building before building their own purpose-built classroom, which is amazing!
But they have not stopped there, the group have big ambitions to expand this nursery school into a primary school, so that their children can continue receiving quality education within their village and continue being taught in English. They have already begun building a second classroom, have dug a well on site for better water access, and have made football and netball pitches for students and other children from the village to play on.
The individual members of the group are proud of their own personal achievements too, having used their training on their own farms. Neighbours Damas and Condrada were excited to show us their newest achievements. Damas is currently building himself a house, something which 10 years he never dreamt he’d be able to do, and Condrada showed us her cow and new born calf. The community have always had the skills and ambition, just a little bit of support and they’ve changed their own lives.
Since the initial training, COCO bought the village cows to help produce manure and milk and last year installed a play area and disabled access to the classroom. Other than that, the community have come up with and implemented their own income generation schemes, with advice and support from our implementation partners Hoja Project.
They have begun keeping bees to farm honey, kept in nearby trees where there is an abundance of flowers for the bees. They were trained in bee keeping by another organisation based in the nearby town of Songea, linked by Hoja Project. They use humane methods of keeping bees and removing honey, unlike the majority of villages who smoke out the bees to collect the honey.
The group have also started giving out small loans to group members and other community members, so that they can set-up or improve their own individual businesses. With the small amount of interest covering the admin and providing income for the group. They buy products in bulk, including fabric, which community members can then buy and repay over a longer period of time with a small amount of interest. This generates income for the group and means the buyers don’t have to travel to town themselves, saving time and money.
They now have plans to extend this and officially start providing loans and business training themselves, to generate income for the group to cover the costs of the primary school and benefit the local community. Currently if someone from the local community wants to get a small loan, they have to travel to Hoja SACCOS which is over 40km away to get the loan and to make repayments. The Kimamba Group want to make it easier for their community to access loans to improve the livelihoods of the surrounding rural areas. Hoja Project is going to support this, by providing training and support for the group.
Litisha is a fantastic community to visit, everyone is so happy and welcoming, and proud of their achievements. Such a small amount of funding injected into this community has made such a huge difference. This is what your support has helped to achieve!
If you would like to support communities like Litisha, where your donation will make an incredible difference, donate to COCO here.