Mother of four Ethel Khundi knows only too well that the best laid plans can be easily derailed.
Only last year this harsh life-lesson was brought home dramatically to her when her entire drove of pigs was killed by an outbreak of swine flu that wiped out hundreds of animals in the locality.
“Nearly everyone in the village lost their animals. It was a major setback,” she says.
Fortunately, Ethel, who farms a small plot in Whunachu village in central Malawi wasn’t totally reliant on her animal rearing to earn an income. The implementation of new conservation farming techniques she learned on a Self Help Africa training course has enabled her to produce almost three times more maize than she had done a year earlier.
The increased harvest has offset some of her other losses, and helped Ethel keep on-track her plans to extend her home and set up a small shop in the village.
Ethel’s plans don’t end there either, for she also hopes that her 13-year old daughter Memory can finish school, and be able to pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor.
“I want her to follow her dreams,” she said.
The 36 year-old Malawian, whose husband works as an immigrant labourer in South Africa, and hasn’t been home in five years, says that the tragedy of her pigs is now in the past. “I am thinking about the future. When I harvest my groundnuts I want to set up a shop, and start trading goods in the village.”