our impact :: conversations
No Longer Just Dreams
Conversation* with JOHN IRUNGU MWANGI, Vipani Farmer, 24 July 2005
Before joining Vipani, 24-year old John Irungu worked in the farm for his father, Josphat Mwangi. Occasionally, he would work for his father's friends, mostly during times when the land needed to be prepared for planting or when crops needed to be harvested.
"Many people like me for my honesty; they say I am hard working and thorough in my work. I have been a farm helper in several homes; I looked after the animals, and I was entrusted with all the tasks in the farm," he says. When not working for others, he would pass time in his small piece of land (10 sq m) which he used as a base where farmers can easily find him when they have something for him to do.
"Though I did not like what was then my life, I did not have an alternative. I didn't go to college and I don't have any other skills. My parents could not manage to educate me past primary school," he explains.
"I believe there are good opportunities in farming, if only it is done in the right way. Vipani has enabled me to do it right. I only started to see changes when my father joined Vipani. He started growing healthier crops in a bigger area and he was very grateful for the changes that Vipani brought to him. I wondered how I could also join. I thought the 'thing' was only for the older farmers. After joining Vipani, a lot of things are so much better and beyond what I ever imagined. In less than four months, I have five sets of crops in my 1/2 acre farm. My work is more enjoyable since my wife, having seen my progress in the farm, has agreed to join me. We spend all our days in the farm and we no longer have to look for employment as hired labor. We are fully engaged and full of hope. We are now trying to catch-up and possibly overtake my father and the rest of the farmers who are our neighbors. And most likely, they are doing the same too; we are not chasing after them but a little competition will harm no one!"
John, like most Vipani farmers, does farming as a family enterprise. At present, they are unable to hire additional help and the work is quite demanding. But watering their crops became easier since they acquired a
KickStart Moneymaker pump; John alternates with his wife in pedaling the foot pump. "I used to work for others in their farms. I was not happy that no one really appreciated my input; the pay was so little despite the work being a "donkey's task". Soon, we are going to start hiring laborers to help us in the farm, and we want to be good bosses. I am expecting a lot of money from next month onwards. We are planning to start saving, we want to build a better house, buy a cow, a bicycle and a phone. From there, we can think of buying land and maybe a car; we are not just wishing or dreaming." John, whose family now includes two young children, has bright hopes for the future.
"I tell my son that farming is an occupation like any other. I brought my children up solely through my labors as a farmer, and John is aware of the difficulties that I faced. My son is very lucky that he is now with Vipani. He is very hard working and he will benefit more because he is ambitious", observes Josphat. "If Vipani came 33 years ago when I started farming, by now I could be swimming in riches. God has many ways of reaching his people and we see Vipani as one among the ways. I am expecting more than 1.5 tons of French beans by next month which will give me about 50,000 shillings (approx $667). With this kind of money, many things are possible and you cannot be counted among the poor after a few months."
Patrick Maina, Vipani staff, spoke to John and Josphat on 24 July 2005
Vipani strives to
R E A C H
every farmer in a community who is stuck in the cycle of poverty.
Reach the poorest.
Enable every farmer.
Advance local support.
Catalyze local economies.
Help generate incomes.
Vipani has the potential to reach millions of poor farmers throughout the developing world.