By Margaret Matibiri
THE burden of peer pressure weighs heavily on those who realise later in life the opportunities they lost as a result, and this is the case of 21-year-old Anna Samatanda, who gave in to the pressure of dropping out of school.
Samatanda refused to go back to school when she was in Form three because her peers were quitting as well, a decision that still haunts her today as she tries to make ends meet in Madhamu Village, Kabuyuni constituency.
“I refused to go back to school because of the pressure of wanting to fit in with my friends who had already dropped out of school,” she narrates.
“Young children today are still making the same mistake in our community, others are dropping out while still doing their primary education. Because I do not have an education myself, it is difficult to speak with authority and advise the young ones to go back to school. The life I and my friends envisioned after leaving school is divorced from reality. We thought we would marry, work in the fields and produce bumper harvests and live the life of luxury without investing years into the education system, but farming itself requires expert knowledge most of which is attained through formal education.
“Climate change affects our yield, and money from selling the cotton we grow comes once a year and is the only income we have to sustain us throughout the year and also cater for the next farming season, it is barely enough compared to what needs to be done. We grow maize for our homes and vegetables, this makes our diet, sadza, vegetables with little to no cooking oil in the morning, afternoon, and evening. We eat meat on rare occasions and most of our animals at the homestead are for ploughing the land hence we can not slaughter for meat without valid reasons.”
Samatanda got a lifeline from a goat project carried out in her community by the Africa Book Development Organisation (ABDO) in partnership with the Korea Hope Foundation.
“In April I received two very big goats from the project by ABDO. I sold them and bought four much smaller ones. I slaughtered one of the goats and took maize from last year’s harvest and opened a little canteen at our local shopping area,” she said.
“I slaughtered another one and my business took off and I could now afford to buy goats and chickens for my business and for the first time, I could eat meat every day. My business has grown and now I have started ordering beverages from Chitekete Growth Point and sell at my canteen.
“I left two other goats and started breeding those for the project initiated by ABDO, getting goat milk for the home and multiplying the animals. I now have four goats and a running business thanks to the project.”
Sarudzai Njanji (48), who is also a benefactor of the programme, said the project was assisting mothers with lactose-intolerant babies.
“Once, we had a nine-month-old baby who was failing to stomach her mother’s milk. We would get milk from the goats, sieve it and feed it to the little one while it was still warm and she never had any problems again. We feed our families with the milk, use the waste as manure, and sell the goats when we are urgently in need of money as well,” she said.
Women in the community have welcomed the project and hope for more life-changing projects like these in the future.
The organisation which was initially seized with the mandate of donating books to schools and communities currently has various projects running in the area, they have built and fully furnished and equipped schools, started goat projects for women, drilled boreholes and put strategic piped water points in Kabuyuni constituency.