When you read this story, you will find yourself wanting to visit Paul Ng’ondola of Mchera village, traditional authority Kaluma, in Ntchisi district. This man has a great garden to look at, a good house to admire in his village, and an amazing story to hear. Mr. Ng’ondola was born,48 years ago, without the use of his legs.
But how did AWP came to know Mr. Ng’ondola? Blessings Malamba (AWP Employee) had read an article some time ago about a farmer who was crippled in the newspaper. He recognized the water pump he works with for irrigation could be operated by a person with these physical challenges. Blessings had been working on a new design, which places the controls close to the ground. Fortunately, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation – MBC – offered AWP the details of how to locate the farmer that had been profiled on television and in newspapers as one of the few 2010 Malawian achievers in agriculture.
On 30th September, the AWP team visited Mr. Ng’ondola. They found him working alone in the field under the heavy heat of the sun. Our first view of his garden made our jaws drop. We were impressed by what we saw.
Mr. Ng’ondola received a primary school education, but due to his physical condition he could not continue in school. He can read only Chichewa, the local language. He is welcoming and always smiling to his occasional visitors, who often include Social Welfare representatives and more recently television crews and their newsmen.
Mr. Ng’ondola was excited to share about the history of his garden.
“I started farming on my own in 2002. I wanted to prove to the surrounding community that disability is not inability. Like others who have the same physical disability, I would have been in town or other locations begging for money. But I wanted to do something for myself. Luckily enough, in 2004 European Union brought an Income Generating Activity in our area that involved small scale farmers.” As he was explaining, I was moved with this story. A man who cannot walk or run is able to do what able-bodied people are failing to do. I was wondering who taught him how to make basins for irrigation and he explained. “European Union taught us how to make the basins. As you can see, the beds are uniform and they run parallel to the feeder canal”
When I looked at the field, I was surprised. How did he manage to channel water into his garden? The garden is far from the valley: it is established at higher elevation than typical, bucket-irrigated gardens.
Pointing to the horizon, he explains: “The water you see running in the canal comes all the way from that area. Participants dug the river diversion which passed through every garden. Unfortunately, EU discontinued the project, but I have continued growing maize up to date”.
But Mr. Ng’ondola does have challenges, he explained further.
“Look, my garden is at the far end, and I can’t access enough water. I have to wait or come early in the morning to irrigate my crop. Secondly, I can’t afford to purchase enough fertilizer. I buy what I can afford after selling maize. … I can’t stop farming. Where will I get food and money if I cease coming to the field?” I agree by nodding my head.
Mr. Ng’ondola married in May, 2010 and he has a son. Unfortunately the time we were at his garden, his wife was not around for us to meet. But he told me that his wife has been so helpful in his life and helps him in the field.
When we explained that AWP would like to install the rope and washer pump so he could irrigate his garden anytime, he was trembling with excitement. “Honestly speaking I can say I’m a lucky man. I will make use of every piece of information that you will pass on to me. Tell me what should I do?” Mr. Ng’ondola asked. AWP staff explained that his relatives could dig a well at the edge of his garden and that AWP would come back to install the water pump made specifically so that he can operate it with his hands while sitting down.
Within 3 days, Mr. Ng’ondola had called us. He had dug the well with the help of his brother and was ready for the pump to be installed. Again, excitement poured through his voice. We can only imagine what this pump means to him. Keep checking in for updates on Mr. Paul Ng’ondola as he begins using his new water pump
Written By Chaswezi Z. Simwela