Harvesting ChangeApril 10, 2014 by Diana Coombs
Dust hangs in the air as hoes churn the red earth. A group of about 30 women, working side by side, till the dirt in the late afternoon heat. One woman bends over to collect what’s been uncovered: potatoes, small and golden. She deftly tosses them into an open sack, which soon fills up. Another takes a moment to rest while walking through the rugged field, a load of over 100 pounds of potatoes on her back. After catching her breath, she continues on. Eventually, dozens of sacks are filled, and the entire harvest is purchased – the result of countless hours of labor and a reward that was almost unthinkable just months ago.
In late March, a group from Empowering Lives went to the potato harvest of these women, all former illegal alcohol brewers who received training at the Ukweli Training Center in Ilula, Kenya. There, these women – struggling to get away from brewing as a source of income – learned about alternative sources of income, such as potato farming, and committed themselves to Christ. Their harvest was a display of their hard work – the time they put in on the field and the journey they have made to turn their lives around.
The harvest was a joyful celebration. These women now have a way to provide for themselves and their families with dignity and pride, things they did not have or experience as brewers. Some have even reconciled with family members and others from their community. Where there was once desperation and shame, there is now hope.