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Shupikai’s garden farm: an empowerment story from Zimbabwe

Shupikai’s story of growing success with garden farming through church and community transformation in Zimbabwe.

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 29 Sep 2023

A woman stands outside her outdoor cooking area.

Shupikai aims to build a fence around her homestead to keep her crops, animals and home safe. Credit: Tigzozo Media/Tearfund

Like the majority of the population in Zimbabwe, Shupikai is a farmer. ‘I love the richness of our soil in Zimbabwe for farming,’ she tells us. At 50 years old and with two daughters, Shupikai has been living in Wairera Village for around 16 years.

She says, ‘I enjoy farming in my community... but before I was assisted by this programme, my life was difficult. Sometimes, I did not even have matches to light a fire. I would have to go to my neighbour’s to borrow matches. I did not even have a penny.’

Shupikai was surviving on whatever small jobs she could get in the community. ‘Sometimes, I would work in people’s homes to get vegetables,’ she says. ‘I did not have time to rest at all.’

A woman smiles as she holds the corn she’s grown.

Shupikai has improved her crop yield following training from our local partner, ZOE. Credit: Tigzozo Media/Tearfund

Local churches supporting community needs

Zimbabwe Orphans Through Extended Hands (ZOE), one of Tearfund’s local partners, ran a programme to help Shupikai. It was originally set up in 2003 as a response to the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Today, ZOE continues to support local churches as they work to meet their communities’ needs.

Shupikai first came across ZOE in 2020. ‘When my husband passed away I faced some challenges because I did not have enough knowledge,’ she says. ‘Nowadays, I am able to afford whatever I need with my family.

Empowering widows and orphans

‘ZOE helps widows and orphans and they also assisted me with knowledge,’ she explains. ‘We were taught a lot of things – including poultry farming and goat rearing. We were also taught… about climate change, and what to look for when the weather is about to change. This allows me, as a farmer, to know which seeds to buy and I can plant according to seasons.’

Through setting up self-help groups – where members meet together regularly to pray, to support each other and to receive training and learn new skills to find ways to make a living – ZOE helps participants like Shupikai to save money together so that group members can access easy-to-repay loans.

‘We buy groceries and other necessities as a group,’ explains Shupikai. ‘I bought a four-plate stove using some of the money from the group. All this knowledge allows me to feed my family and clothe myself and children. All this motivates me to keep working.

‘Now I am able to worship and pray with others as well as teach women to be independent!’

‘Now I am able to worship and pray with others as well as teach women to be independent!’

Poultry and planting vegetables

Shupikai now has chickens to do poultry farming along with a garden project that she grows and sells vegetables from. She tells us that her favourite Bible verse is the one that says, ‘Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!’ She says it makes her feel encouraged to work hard using her hands.

Beyond that, Shupikai says, ‘I was also taught to help those in need. We were taught to be independent and to look out for children being abused in our community [and how to help].’ In this way, the group members are able to help protect children in their community.

Meeting up as a group with other widows and orphans also provides a source of comfort for Shupikai, she says. 

Hope for the future

Shupikai aims to build a fence around her homestead to keep all her farming and her home safe. She also says, ‘I’d like to continue to acquire more knowledge regarding my projects and build another house to add on to my homestead!’ She would also like to get seeds and pesticides and a nearby water source for her garden – at the moment she has to walk uphill to fetch water every day, which is hard, time-consuming work.

‘When I pray, I ask God for good health so that I can work using my own hands every day. To my friends in the United Kingdom,’ she asks, ‘when they pray, please pray to God asking for health and safekeeping.’

Please join us in praying for Shupikai and, if you can, please give to help more people around the world access training and support that will help release them from poverty.

Pray for Zimbabwe

    • Pray for good health and safekeeping for Shupikai and all the members of her self-help group so that they can continue to work to improve their circumstances.
    • Lift up all those facing poverty around the world. Ask God for his provision and protection, for lives to be transformed and for every person to have the opportunity to thrive.
    • Pray for widows and orphans – that they will be comforted and supported by God and those around them.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna

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