Project Summary
Imagine living in a remote Zambian village. It is your whole world. You’ve never ventured beyond the edge of trees surrounding your village. Suddenly, a diminutive wisp of a girl/woman, blonde and green-eyed with a child in tow, emerges out of the trees and walks toward you. She asks you in your own language, CiTonga, where you get your water? You summon the courage to reach out and touch her fair skin, her hair, her daughter’s hair. A human connection has been made.

This scenario happens repeatedly in remote areas of Zambia and Sierra Leone. It is also beginning to happen in remote areas of Ethiopia.

This adventurous woman is Heather Cumming, the Project Director and Founder of Simwatachela Sustainable Agricultural and Arts Program, or “SSAAP.”

Heather began her life in Africa as a Peace Corps-Zambia volunteer, 2004-2006. Leaving Zambia in 2006, she vowed to herself--along with partners in the project, Marles Kanyawinyawi and Gibson Sinangombe—that her work in Africa was far from being finished.

In April 2008, the community headmen of 3 adjacent villages in Simwatachela granted her project 140 hectares of virgin land, specifically for the purpose of starting a sustainable agricultural program with potable water to feed both the people and their cattle. Her Zambian headquarters is located in the Southern Province of Africa.
 
Life expectancy in Zambia is 37 years. Food security is fragile, dependent upon rainfall and traditional hand-planted cultivation. The HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaged the country: 1 in every 4 people is HIV positive. Malnutrition is present in communities country-wide.

In 2007, Sierra Leone, the other African country where SSAAP works, was rated the most unlivable country in the world. The 11 year Civil War (1990-2001), followed by the Ebola Epidemic (2014-2015) devastated the country’s economy. Every 4th child dies here before reaching the age of 5. Life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 33 years.
 

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