ZAMBIA: Following the donation of a second-hand Volvo EC290BLC excavator to an agricultural training centre, the students can now look forward to a much brighter future
by John Bayliss
In 1996, a group of nuns from the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Service went to Zambia to widen the available education services and help in the fight against HIV-AIDS and other diseases. In the ensuing decades, the nuns expanded their projects, eventually opening the Jacaranda Farm Agricultural Training Centre on 200 hectares of land, about an hour’s drive from Zambia’s second largest city, Kitwe.
Students come from those families most in need – generally from rural communities. Once selected, they spend two years learning a variety of small-scale farming skills. The successful graduates then have better employment prospects and, in turn, can play a key role in helping their families towards a self-sustaining lifestyle.
There is huge potential for more of the land surrounding Jacaranda to be developed for farming. Unfortunately, much of that is densely forested and dotted with anthills. Clearing such land with hand tools, as was previously the case, is both extremely hard work and very labor-intensive. But that is all about to change.
BANKING ON DONATIONS
Raising funds to develop the farm and its resources is a constant challenge. Now, thanks to the support of a diocesan priest in South Korea, Jacaranda Farm is the proud owner of a second-hand Volvo EC290BLC excavator. Father Hwang Changyong raised donations to buy the plant, aware of just how useful it would be to the students and nuns in Zambia.
Transporting the machine from South-East Asia to Africa was the first of several challenges. The excavator has an operating weight of nearly 29,000kgs. Once dismantled, the component parts had to be shipped in two separate 20m-long containers that arrived in Zambia two weeks apart. Then came the task of reassembling the EC290BLC and ensuring it was in good working order. Father Hwang raised additional donations to send a team of three engineers from South Korea to Jacaranda Farm. Using local help, it took them three days to get the excavator back into operational order.
After so many years of having to do all the work on the land by hand, the Volvo excavator is bringing about some radical changes at the farm. Sister Emmanuella Kim, Director of the Centre says that although her dreams and those of her fellow Franciscan sisters remain unchanged, their scope has become broader. “There will be a big improvement in the land with a school, a poultry pen, piggery and some crops.” Sister Kim says that thanks to the donated excavator and its boost to the resources of Jacaranda Farm, “the youth at the school may now dream of a better future”.