'Now I am not afraid to speak': A success story
It took Marta António Alficha two months to convince her husband to let her join a group of about a dozen friends and neighbours who were receiving maize, oil, sugar, beans, seeds and potato cuttings while working for the Department of Agriculture.
The eldest of his two wives, mother of two school-aged children, Alficha says she had to “gather the courage” to talk to her husband, a smallholder farmer, about joining the group and she had to keep insisting. Finally he agreed.
Technicians from Oxfam Canada partner Magariro, the Community Development Association, encouraged the group to form an association to produce vegetables. The Horticultural Association ‘3 de Fevereiro’ was born. Magariro experts taught them horticultural techniques, and provided seeds for lettuce, onions, spinach, tomato, and garlic.
They began to produce and sell vegetables themselves; the Department of Agriculture stopped supplying them food. Since 2006, the association has grown to 30 from 11 members and most of them are women.
Magariro provides literacy classes where practical agricultural information is taught. “I am in my third year and know how to read and write with no problem,” Marta says. She was elected vice president of the local savings and credit program.
Over five years, Marta became more assertive, independent and financially secure. “When I joined the group I was very closed off, but now I am not afraid to speak where there are many people, including men and women. I know how to read and write very well. I helped my husband buy bricks to build our house with money that I managed to get by selling vegetables. Not only that, I also manage to buy food for the family, school material for the children, and now I practically don’t depend on my husband to buy anything I need.”