This morning Patricia and I stood in a cabbage field on the slopes of a montain in the highlands of Ethiopia. What made it so special was not the stunning scenery nor the crop of cabbbages, but the fact that it was the work of Chali and his wife. Chali lost his sight in a freak accident in 1981. With the help of Tearfund’s partner, the Meserete Kristos Church Integrated Development Programme, Chali was able to borrow some seed from a seed bank funded by Tearfund. In spite of his severe disability, he has developed his garden into a larger area and now grows cabbages, beetroot, onions and peppers. This has been possible through the advice and support of the MKCIDP facilitators who taught Chali how to increase his yield through using compost and helping him secure seed from the seed bank. His annual income has increased from twenty pounds a year to four hundred pounds a year through growing and selling his vegetables, so that he has been able to build a new house for himself, his wife and his three children.
When I asked him about his plans for the future, he said that he had a vision to help others see how their lives can be transformed through participating in such a programme. Chali has already inspired a group of local men to develop their land in a similar way. This remarkably humble Christian man is an outstanding witness to the effectiveness of the development programmes supported by Tearfund.
What struck me as I stood on his cabbage field was that even though Chali has lost his physical sight, he keeps talking about the vision which God has given him. It seemed to me that Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 4 was being fulfilled in front of me: “the poor have the gospel preached to them and the blind receive their sight”.