Chickens come home to roost! | A life-changing story from Zambia
Posted by Letswalo L Marobane on 15 September 2023, 11:35 SAST
Autone Mululuma, a young man growing up in a peri-urban area in the Chimbombo District in the Central Province in Zambia, faced a problem. In the community where he lives, many of the young people, both males and females, are disaffected and have little opportunity for passing their free time productively. As a result, many indulge in illicit activities and destructive behaviour. But Autone wanted more for himself. He sought for a skill that could empower him, while delivering him from the temptations his peers were falling prey to. But his aspirations seemed farfetched and likely to fail: at the time, there seemed to be no programmes in schools aimed at empowering young people with entrepreneurial skills.
Fortunately for Autone, he was a learner at Moomba Boarding Secondary School, where he encountered the FutureLife-Now! Programme. The programme provided Moomba with a hundred chicks and Autone expressed an interest in working with them. He watched and learnt as the chicks matured to fully-grown chickens. Autone was “hooked”, and having gained experience working with the chicks, he decided to replicate the rearing of poultry in his community. Autone describes what happened next.
“When I finally completed school, I found that there was a women’s cooperative that intended to rear chickens, but the members did not have the expertise to do so. My mother, who is a member of the cooperative, rented out her chicken run so that the ladies could rear their chickens. … [But] the ladies had no experience whatsoever. I volunteered to teach them how to prepare the room, administer vaccines and medication, as well as maintain the temperature in [the] room where the chickens are kept. I am still assisting this cooperative, and many more members have learnt the skill of chicken-rearing.”
Initially, it was a group of 10 local ladies, but the group expanded its membership to 15, which strengthened it financially. As a cooperative, it sells the chickens and eggs to local businesses, but it also supplies the members’ families, providing them with a source of protein. Furthermore, these are “free range” products, far healthier than any battery farm produce often sold in the shops. The local community (including businesses), can also now buy live chickens should they also want to rear them.
Autone and his fellow learners sorting and packing eggs
Members of the cooperative are grateful for the opportunity they have been afforded.
ou see, we are a small group of women who do not work, living in the outskirts of the city. We decided to engage in this project to better the lives of our children. We were very blessed by the presence and skill of our young man, Autone. We are happy and privileged that while he was at school at Moomba, he acquired this skill of rearing chickens. He has really helped us to even maintain hygiene when going in and out of the chicken run and how to clean the drinkers. We are so happy that he got all these skills from the FLN [FutureLife-Now!] project. … We are able to use them [chicken droppings] in our backyard gardens as manure. Astridah Chibwe (Member of the Cooperative)
Autone’s initiative has also been applauded by the businesses the cooperative supplies.
I am originally not a native of this country but came to settle here. I am a business owner in this community. I have a number of retail stores that run under my family name. I came into contact with this women-led cooperative when they proposed that they can supply my stores with both dressed and live chickens. We signed some contracts and I order chickens and eggs from them. This helps their cooperative to thrive and the community benefits as well. I am also able to trade and make my money in this very community. Chizya Zyamarie (Business owner)
Autone’s mother is justifiably proud of what her son has achieved.
It is indeed true that I introduced my son Autone to the group of women in the cooperative. He provided for and to us the much-needed expertise while rearing chickens. Otherwise, we would have had to take a risk to do it ourselves or pay for someone to train us to do so. It is evident that indeed Autone learnt enough to qualify him to help us when we began this project as a cooperative.
But let’s leave the last word to Autone, the resourceful young man whose initiative got the ball rolling.
I urge other organizations working with the young people … to have an inclusive structure that places the child at the centre of its activities and empowers the youth with entrepreneurial skills. My life has changed as I am able to raise money by teaching members of my community how to rear chickens.
Autone explaining the finer points of raising poultry to members of the co-op