It takes a special and unshakable spirit to overcome tragedy and hardship, such as that experienced by Nellie Mohango in her life.
But spirit is something that 63 year-old Nellie, who lives in Mabalani village in Northern Malawi, has in spades.
To say that life hasn’t been easy for Nellie is an understatement. Both of her daughters died before age five, and she was told she couldn’t have any more children.
A short time later, Nellie’s beloved sister passed away suddenly, which she describes as the saddest day of her life.
Furthermore, spinal meningitis contracted during pregnancy left Nellie with severe curvature of the spine, and struggling to work her farm. She had no one left to help, as her marriage had also broken up in the midst of her trauma.
Despite all this, Nellie has demonstrated a fierce determination to succeed in life. Caring for her orphaned nieces and nephews provided her with purpose, and went some way to filling the void left by the tragic loss of her own children.
Nellie began working with Self Help Africa in 2012, and quickly devised a business plan to help turn around her farming fortunes. She employed hired labour to help her work the land, and with support from SHA also began rearing pigs.
Her increased income has allowed Nellie to both improve her own house, and build one for her nephew’s young family.
Nellie’s desire to contribute goes beyond providing for her family. She’s also active in her local community, and has funded a small tree plantation at the local school. “I wanted to contribute” she says. “I enjoy watching the woodland grow.”
With life a little better these days, what does Nellie cherish most? “It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing” she says. “Everything that I have, I cherish. I’ve worked so hard for it. My house, my land, my late sister’s kids – they have a special place in my heart.”