A Bank In the Garden

Written by Dahlia Guajardo on June 25, 2013 in General

Moshi Rural District, Tanzania

Two years ago, Dahlia Guajardo spent hours in the San Diego office of Plant With Purpose volunteering as a grant writing intern. This past year, she expanded her horizons and invested her time teaching English in Tanzania. Dahlia got to see Plant With Purpose Tanzania’s programs—the same programs she spent a semester writing about—in action. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories she captured starting with A Bank in the Garden. Enjoy!


It’s a Monday afternoon in Lole Village and the Funguka VSLA (Village Savings and Loan Association) has assembled to dig a double dug vegetable garden. VSLAs are small groups of 20-30 people who meet regularly to pool their money. Each VSLA has its own name; in Swahili funguka means open, an aptly chosen title in light of the many opportunities that VSLAs make possible. Participants slowly increase their savings by contributing a set amount each week. That savings can then be lent out to members requesting a loan.

After having received agricultural training from Plant With Purpose, the Funguka VSLA is moving forward with the construction of a vegetable garden. Their goal is for members to purchase spinach and other greens from the garden, rather than at the market. Money used to purchase produce from the garden will then be deposited in the Funguka VSLA’s account, thus increasing the group’s savings and access to capital.

Nearly the entire Funguka VSLA, about 25 people, came together to work on the garden. Members took turns, handing off shovels as men and women jumped in and out of the garden plot to till and remove the soil. The voices of songs and laughing carried along with dirt piling up in a long row along the perimeter. Then the work began of refilling the dugout area with layers of soil, manure, compost, and a final covering of dead leaves used for mulch.


Gathering around their finished garden, the Funguka VSLA members raised their fists in a unified pledge of solidarity and commitment to care for God’s creation. They look forward to reaping both a tasty harvest and the increasing prospects of their growing savings.

 To support a community like Lole and the Funguka savings group in their efforts to save money and grow food for their families, consider sponsoring a village

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