Like farmers across southern Africa, Cynthia is worried about the drought. The region is experiencing one of the driest years in decades, and the lack of rain is all the farmers in her rural Zimbabwe community are talking about.
A single mother and a veteran farmer, Cynthia will fare better than most thanks to her careful planning. Over the years, she connected an irrigation pond to her fields of okra, sweet potatoes and corn, linked by a system of pipes and a water pump.
A Kiva loan of $1,000, backed by 35 lenders from around the world, helped Cynthia buy the fuel she needs to power the pump, and keep her crops alive.
“People are really suffering from this drought…I’ve been successful in business this year because of having this loan,” says Cynthia. “It was a door opening.”
Cynthia has a reputation in the community as a savvy, hardworking farmer, and she’s also a student and community leader through Kiva’s Field Partner Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education.
She uses some of the profits from her farm to pay her children’s school fees, and is paying to continue her own education as well. She had to drop out of school as a teenager, but is working to graduate from high school level exams to set a good example for her children and other young girls.
“Life without education is like a plant without water. So I am committed to sending my children to school, no matter what,” Cynthia said. “They are performing very well in school …I don’t want them to live the same type of life I used to live so I want them to educate themselves.”
Cynthia has faced a lot of challenges in her life, especially after her marriage ended and she was left alone to support her children. She often felt dismissed and looked down upon, and saw many women in her position turning to prostitution to support themselves.
But she persevered in her business, learned more about farming techniques and as she became more successful she noticed a change in people’s behavior.
At community meetings, where people used to ignore her when she spoke, they now quietly wait to hear her advice.
“If you have money, you have power,” Cynthia says. “I’ve gained recognition from the community and from school children. Students are carrying bags for me! I am being honored.”
When she completes her education, Cynthia says she will still farm but will use her new knowledge to make her business even more efficient. It was important to her to finish her education since she’s always telling young people they need to study.
“I tell them to work hard in their school work, to be humble to be the one who is most disciplined and honest,” said Cynthia. “I want to do as I say too.”
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