Leveraging on Existing Community Resources: Andrew Joseph's Story

Apr 17 2018

The hilly district of Blantyre is one of the most highly industrialized areas of Malawi and has an estimated 18.2% HIV prevalence rate (Source: MPHIA Report, 2016). The disease has affected the daily livelihood of many of its inhabitants leaving multiple households vulnerable.  This is a situation 45-year-old Andrew Joseph can relate to.
“I cannot say I was rich before my HIV positive results, but we had enough as a family. I was employed as a guard at a garage in the nearby town and was aspiring to one day become a mechanic,” shares Andrew.

Andrew’s life took an unexpected turn in 2010 when constant and inexplicable illnesses led to a positive HIV diagnosis. Weak and unstable, he failed to return to his job and moved to his home village in Mpemba, Blantyre.
“I returned home but I still had to find ways of providing for my family. I took to farming in other people’s farms for money to buy food,” explains Andrew.

Over the years, Andrew harbored dreams of one day owning a thriving farm like the ones he worked on. He had unique vegetable farming skills, which he had learned from his grandfather. However, he lacked adequate finances to buy his own seedlings.

In April 2017, CRP Noel Kangole visited Andrew. Noel had been conducting household visits in the area in order to identify vulnerable community members to enroll as One C beneficiaries.

“Andrew and his family were living in extreme poverty. Nearby households had a number of cows and flourishing farms while their house contrasted this and definitely stood out,” shared CRP Noel.

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During the home visit, Andrew disclosed his HIV status. He also requested for HIV testing services for his children and economic strengthening assistance. He shared with CRP Noel his vegetable farm dream and how it would help his family out of poverty.The next day, the CRP referred Andrew’s case to his supervisor. Together, Noel and his supervisor sought out assistance from Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) who on occasion distribute farm inputs to vulnerable households. The CRP was given tomato and leafy vegetable seedlings which he took to Andrew.

In June 2017, Andrew successfully planted his first seedlings.
“The garden is doing relatively well. From it, I am able to feed my family and help other community members who do not have food. I also sell some of the vegetables to well-to-do community members and use the money to buy other household supplies, such as soap and sugar,” shares a proud Andrew. “I hope to one day grow enough vegetables to supply nearby schools and shops.”

Andrew has been linked to a VSL group where he hopes to save his money as well as access loans to grow his garden. He also hopes to identify like-minded individuals to share his vegetable farming skills with and in time form a farming cooperative.

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