When staff writer Kari Costanza visited sponsored child Mutinta's family in Zambia, she witnessed their vibrant transformation through World Vision's programs. Not only had they received clean water, livestock, and school supplies, her father Miychele had planted a huge orchard!
Read how Miychele's early adoption of farming techniques helped keep his family healthy and happy!
We often share stories about mothers and children at World Vision, but I have met some incredible men in my travels as well. I met one outstanding man just last month in Zambia. His name is Miychele (pronounced Michelle) Siameenda.
Miychele is the 45-year-old father of six, including a sponsored girl name Mutinta. We were visiting Mutinta because we’d heard about the relationship she has with her amazing sponsor, Claudia. Since 2005, Claudia’s love and gifts have made an extraordinary difference in the family’s life.
I interviewed Mutinta and Claudia, and then Miychele sat down with me for a bit under a big mango tree in their yard. Miychele had just come in from the field. He didn’t want to talk about sponsorship. He wanted to talk about his orchard.
As a writer, I always try to connect dots in my stories. How would the orchard fit in? Through her sponsor, Mutinta had received a cow, a bicycle, school supplies, a school uniform, and much, much more. Was the orchard that important, I wondered? Miychele wanted me to see it. We agreed to go.
It was a bit of a drive to the orchard and then a precarious climb over a fence to get inside. Once there, I was amazed. It was four hectares—the size of four baseball fields.
Miychele had planted so many trees—orange trees, mango trees, banana trees, papaya, and even Moringa trees.
Years ago, a World Vision staff agronomist named Jim Hoopper had visited this area. He’d told Miychele about a miraculous tree called the Moringa tree. The leaves and bark of Moringa trees are used to treat headaches and diarrhea, stop bleeding, soothe insect bites, help those suffering from malnutrition, treat fevers, skin, ear and eye infections, and more.
“I was told by World Vision that Moringa has great health benefits,” says Miychele. “I know this is really working. When you add water, there is no longer sickness [in your family.]”
Before clean water came to this village, Miychele was able to keep his family healthy, he says, because he mixed Moringa powder with the water they had. “Before we got water,” he says, “we used to take Moringa. Our sicknesses were mild.” That’s saying a lot in a village that suffered bout after bout of typhoid.
Our time in Miychele’s orchard was very special—almost holy. I got to see firsthand what happens for a family when men like Miychele become early adopters of new ideas. For them, life changes for the better over time, and for their families, life is much sweeter—as sweet as one of the mangoes Miychele insisted on sending with us.
There are a lot of amazing women out there and spectacular children. But Miychele was a great reminder to me of why we can’t forget to share the stories of men. With hard work, vision, and commitment, good men can have a lasting impact on their very fortunate families.
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