“The interesting thing about pigs is that they are magical if well managed.” – Flavia, Uganda
You can tell that Jordan loves his pig – so much so that when we first saw this photo of Jordan hugging his animal, we knew we had to share it with you. You may have seen Jordan’s cuddly photo in our 2019 Best.Gift.Ever catalogue. Here is the story behind this incredibly impactful gift – a story of renewed hope that you helped make possible.
AN IMPOSSIBLE LIFE
It wasn’t so long ago that Flavia and her husband Geoffrey were on their last shreds of hope. The couple had a happy family life with their five children – including their son Jordan – but though Geoffrey worked hard to find work as a casual labourer and porter, his income was sporadic and unpredictable. There were many times when they just could not afford the basics – including school fees and food.
“Life was a bit impossible. Food was inadequate to feed the children. I’m talking of children as if their father and I had our own food – but the entire family was affected,” Flavia told us. “Our children rarely sat end of term exams because we were not able to complete the school fees. That means they never could progress from one class to another.”
As loving parents, they were strong believers in education for their children. Flavia and Geoffrey watched with dismay as their children rapidly lost interest in school. Flavia was a common presence at the school “not for checking on the children’s performance, but to plead for mercy from the school administration.”
Facing the stark effects of the lack of proper nutrition and the children’s lack of access to education, Flavia and Geoffrey were increasingly desperate for a way to secure their children’s future. Flavia knew of a CFTC-supported program in her area that was helping families in her situation. A strong self-advocate, she sought out our local partner HUYSLINCI’s staff and asked for a space in their program. Her persistence paid off.
“I must tell you that the situation has changed,” she told us, smiling broadly. “I will show you what I’m talking about – the project that has transformed our family life.”
THE MAGICAL GIFT OF A PIG
Flavia and Jordan proudly showed us their home and farm. The pigs were healthy, plentiful and content in their meticulously cleaned pens, nestled among lush banana trees. The animals represent a thriving business that Flavia was able to start thanks to the gift of just one pig.
She received that first pig – a sow – at the end of 2017. Flavia and Geoffrey received training on feeding, veterinary care, and best-practice in pen construction. They also learned the importance of using local breeds and how to maintain a clean and healthy environment for them to thrive. By March 2018, their first sow had given birth to ten piglets.
“The interesting thing about pigs is that they are magical if well managed. They produce so often and multiply so fast,” says Flavia.
She passed on four of them to other community members in need, and sold four to pay her children’s school fees – an immensely gratifying moment. Flavia and Geoffrey were relieved to finally be able to provide enough for their children.
“Currently, we face no trouble in meeting the school needs of our children. We can afford food – both lunch and supper. We are comfortable now and we’re working towards getting better.”
IT’S NOT JUST A PIG – IT’S A LIFE-CHANGING OPPORTUNITY
Flavia’s family received a pig – but that was just the beginning of the support they were able to access thanks to the contributions of generous Canadian donors. When Flavia joined the piggery project, her son Jordan also became a sponsored child. This meant that his immediate needs for nutrition and education were met while the family business was getting off the ground.
Flavia and Geoffrey also joined a village savings group, where they were able to access capital, grow their savings and improve their financial stability. This newfound stability has allowed them to improve other areas of their life as well – recently they renovated the leaky roof of their house. It’s also allowed them to enrich their children’s education in ways they never dreamed possible before.
“Imagine a situation where your child tells you of a study trip organized by the school, and that all of his friends will be going, only to realize that yours will not be able to go,” Flavia recalls. “You are afraid of telling him, you feel the pain as a parent, because you are not in a position to fulfil your obligations as well as make your children happy. That is now no more.”
Today the whole family chips in to help run their pig business. Geoffrey collects feed from neighbours and restaurants for the pigs, and each child has a pig of their very own to raise – a task they take to eagerly.
“I love seeing them do all they can to ensure that their animals are well fed and in a clean environment,” says Flavia proudly. “I think they are learning a skill which they can use in the future.”
For the future, Flavia and Geoffrey are looking to expand into cattle rearing and crop production. They’d like to sell at least one pig a week. For their children, their goal is to see them complete their university education. It’s a dream that can be achieved thanks to that gift of a pig just a few short years ago.
REMEMBER JORDAN AND HIS PIG
When we visited the family, the three youngest children were home: Jordan, 4-year-old Mwesigwa and 1-year-old baby sister Gift. Jordan and Mwesigwa proudly showed off the pigs they are raising. The animals were in great form, and the boys didn’t miss a chance to give them affectionate pats and hugs.
As Flavia says, “These pigs have changed everything. We treasure them because we have come a long way, and we do not want to go back.”
She tears up. “Can you imagine that all my children are now at school? It used to be strange but now, it’s true. I really don’t know how best I can express how happy and thankful we are to you.”
Behind every photo of a smiling child with an animal you helped to provide is an incredible story of change and renewed hope. Like Flavia, we cannot express how grateful we are to all the kind Canadian donors who helped make this possible for this family and all the families we work with. If you’ve ever wondered whether your gift is making a difference, just remember Jordan and his magical pig, and know that you’ve helped change a life.
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