"We don't do it for the credit"
Have you ever thought about where the food in our Feeding Program comes from? Who are the hardworking farmers behind the vegetables our children eat every day at school? Samantha, a Lusaka-native, and her husband, Naested, live about 15 minutes from our Complex. Little do you know, Samantha and her husband donate a major amount of produce to Arise Africa’s feeding program.
When asked to talk about their business and the huge role they play in Arise Africa, Samantha was quick to say, "Well you know we don’t do it for the credit…” This alone shows you exactly the kind of people the Smits are.
Arise Africa is so thankful to know the Smits, and have them in the Arise Family. Our partnership started roughly 10 years ago when their daughter started taking piano lessons from our Country Director, Megan! Through piano lessons, Samantha slowly began to learn about what Megan was doing in Zambia, which lead to many conversations about Arise Africa. Samantha and her husband had seen many different organizations over the years, but she said that from the beginning, she could tell this one was different. She felt comfortable investing in the mission because she understood the heart behind it, and the transparency in the organization as a whole. "We know exactly where and who our produce is going to," Samantha said, "And we appreciate that so much about Arise Africa."
In the early 1900s, Samantha's great-grandfather moved from the UK to Capetown to start a new life. He arrived in Capetown after a long journey by ship, and he worked as a carpenter for two years. During this time, he saved enough money to buy himself a bicycle, and then he began what would be a 2-year journey to Zambia. Samantha's family has lived and farmed in Lusaka for over a century now. Her husband on the other hand, is originally from South Africa. The two crossed paths through mutual friends in Zambia, and like they say, the rest is history. Once they were married, Samantha and Naested saw it best to continue in the farming business, but before taking over the family's business, they decided to work for other farms. Samantha and Naested believed it was important to learn how other farming businesses operated in Lusaka before being in charge of their own.
"We don't think it about it until someone like you asks the question, and then we really think about what we started with... We have come a very long way," said Samantha about how much the business has grown over the past 13 years.
When discussing their business, Naested was quick to say that, "The biggest problem is that Zambia has a tendency to import too much and not export enough." Although the scale is tipped in a difficult direction, the Smits looked past this by seeking to implement indigenous mobilization in Zambia, meaning that they prioritized implementing business strategies for Zambians to help each other, create jobs for each other, and support each other. Another reason why we are so thankful for Samantha and Naested is because they are providing jobs for many individuals in Zambia through their business. Through their farm alone, they are able to employ over 30 people. From there, they sell their products to individuals who work in markets, which creates many jobs because the men and women in the market sell vegetables to families, business owners, etc., where even more jobs are created!
"So what," you're asking yourself, "why is this important to Arise Africa?"
Every Monday and Wednesday, our driver, Abraham, goes on what we call, “Veg Run.” He fills up the back of the Land Cruiser (or White Elephant as many of you know it by) with vegetables from Samantha and Naested's farm. From there, he begins his journey across Lusaka to deliver fresh veggies to all of our schools. Once Abraham arrives, our Child Sponsorship Officers and cooks work diligently to prepare meals for all of the children. If you have been on a mission trip with Arise, you know how excited the children are for their meals. You might have even tried a meal from our Feeding Program yourself! Along with vegetables, the children also have enshima, which is a maize-based bread product and a type of meat. Overall, it is a very well-balanced meal. It's important to know that because of the wide variety of produce donated by the Smits, our children are able to have vegetables that they have never tried before: cauliflower, okra, baby spinach, and so much more.
Arise Africa has over 475 children in Child Sponsorship across three schools in the Lusaka area. This number has more than doubled in that past 5 years, and the Smits haven't skipped a beat. When we grow, their generosity grows that much more. Every child in the schools we work in, whether in Sponsorship or not, receives a hot meal, meaning that over 500 children are served a nutritious meal every single day. Most of the children rely on their school's provision as their only source of food for the day. By Samantha and Naested donating vegetables to our program, we save an immense amount on funding for our Feeding Program. Because of them, we are able to provide our children with fresh vegetables every meal.
Through our Feeding Program, we are helping fight hunger in a very controlled atmosphere. Our primary goal is to keep the children healthy, especially those who are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. Providing these children with a well balanced meal has allowed for remarkable improvement in their health. Another goal is to keep children fed so that they are able to concentrate in school and gain a better education. If they are able to receive proper nutrition, they are able to be better learners, and ultimately have a better chance to live the life God desires for us all.
Remember how I said earlier that we serve over 500 children a day? That's a lot of mouths to feed... Did you know that with just one dollar, we can provide two nutritious hot meals for a child? ONE DOLLAR! TWO MEALS! If you have any interest to donate to our Feeding Program to help us supplement the vegetables donated to us, just fill out this form! Your donation will enable us to continue providing well balanced meals to all of the children in our schools.
We are so thankful for Samantha and Naested. Without their generosity, Arise Africa's Feeding Program would't have as great of an impact. Matthew 5:16 says, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Although the Smits were hesitant about sitting down with me to discuss the farm, I can't help but brag on the ways God is using them in such great ways in Zambia. It is so evident that their good works, specifically their generosity, is giving great glory to our God. Although there is a tendency to not recognize elements of ministry that do not fall on the frontlines, the produce that Samantha and Naested donate to Arise is a key element to Arise's ministry at large. They enable our staffers to serve nutritious meals to our students, allowing them to concentrate better in and out of school, which overall, creates more opportunity for the Gospel to be shared. What's not the love about that? Every piece of the puzzle counts. There are many moving parts to Arise Africa, and we couldn't do it without each helping hand. Thank you, Samantha and Naested, for being a part of our family.