Maria is a girl aged 10 who lives in S.C Mwangwebo village together with her grandmother and four other siblings. She attends a school nearby her home and she is in standard 4. Maria enjoys going to school and aspires to become a nurse one day. Her aspiration comes from her aunt, she says. “She is a nurse at the Boma who works at the district hospital and when I grow up I want to be like her“, narrates maria in pure Kyangonde, a local dialect in Karonga district in Northern Malawi.
Maria recalls attending the same school with other learners in the year 2017. She narrated about how she envied other learners who wore new uniforms and carried brand new exercise books to school. She could only hoped of getting a new uniform and brand new exercise books like these other pupils.
In 2018, Maria was aware that her grandmother had received cassava stems and sweet potato vines from the SSLLP to plant in their two acre plot of land. Maria, like any other child, thought this was normal because her parents usually grew crops like these. It was until the cassava crop was ready and her grandmother decided to sell some mbundumale cassava to cater for some needs within the household that Maria had a new school uniform and some books, narrated her grandmother. “Maria was quite grateful for this because this meant her school days would be easier and that she would not have to envy other learners who had uniforms and notebooks for their studies“.
The sweet potatoes and cassava have also helped Maria and her siblings in as far as their nutrition is concerned. Both crops contain carbohydrates which is a rich source of energy that enables them walk to school and attend classes without any problem. The tubers also are rich in nutrients that improve children’s sight and the functioning of their brains,which in turn can enable them to do well in their studies as well as having the ability to play around with their friends.
Many children in the surrounding communities can relate to Maria’s story. The project has enabled their parents and guardians to provide necessary basic needs for their children and also reduced their hunger as they are able to give them tea with sweet potatoes before and after school. “The children no longer cry of hunger when they come back from school. We just prepare them tea with fresh cassava or sweet potatoes. Indeed this project has improved our livelihood” says Maria’s grandmother while as she goes inside her hut to begin preparing for lunch.