My name is Wakondiye and I am 40 years old and married to the Village Headman Mtema. I have been going to the center since 2010 learning with the women and widows and have learned bead making and soap making, but my greatest love is for the Bible. When the first center in Mtema was opened, I did what most village headman’s wives’ would never do. I began helping to prepare the porridge for the children.
Before I was ignorant to the love of God, but after being taught by the ministry I now know that I am His child and I have been given such a love for children by God. I come to class and sing and play with them. I also make sure to leave them with an inheritance of folk tales.
I hope to encourage teachers and caregivers in their work and encourage women to ensure their children come and get a healthy meal each day, as well as participate in development in the community. During the community meetings I try to makes sure I speak to the local chiefs so that they will involve their wives in development because many of the chiefs’ wives are never in the forefront as they are not looked at contributors to progress in their culture.
Wakondiye leads her community by ownership and participation and by example and because of people like her in during the first 6 months of 2012 over 500 children and pregnant mothers have been enjoying a nutritious meal 5 times a week. The feeding program operates out of two locations – one in a very small church building with dirt floors and the other one literally under trees and tobacco sheds. The community is looking forward to the new community center which will begin construction soon.
One of the other benefits of the OVC Feeding Program is that youth in the community are able to contribute. This year they made 20 straw mats for the children to sit on while they ate and listened to Bible stories. This gave the youth an opportunity to make some money to help support their families. In addition, 6 teachers and 12 caregivers received incentives each month for teaching the children Bible stories and good health and hygiene practices.