Ballyclare woman ‘happ-pea’ for Malawi farmers during Christian Aid Week

A Ballyclare woman is celebrating the success of farming communities in southern Malawi who have seen their lives transformed since receiving a fairer price for their pigeon pea crop.

To coincide with Christian Aid Week, Pamela Gray, the charity’s volunteer organiser in Ballyclare shared a photo with a pea pod in place of her normal smile to demonstrate her happiness for farmers who have received a higher income for their drought-resistant harvest since joining a Christian Aid-supported pigeon pea cooperative.

Pamela, who is a member of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church, has supported Christian Aid’s work for many years by helping to coordinate the fundraising efforts of a number of churches in the area. 

Ballyclare woman ‘happ-pea’ for Malawi farmers during Christian Aid Week

Pigeon peas thrive in drought-prone southern Malawi. They’re cheap to grow from recycled seed and require only minimal amounts of fertiliser and pesticides, making them an ideal crop to grow in a region where over 60% of families live in poverty.

Esther Saizi, a 54-year-old widowed grandmother, is one of more than 3,300 farmers helped by Christian Aid’s local partner, the Nandolo Farmers’ Association, which runs the pigeon pea cooperative.

With the improved profits from her harvest, Esther began buying goats, which provide milk and meat for her family as well as manure for her crops, saving on expensive fertiliser. Esther even used her income to buy a sewing machine and now she makes clothes for her family. 

The extra income also enabled Esther to support her elder daughter’s carpentry business and her younger daughter’s dream of going to college and qualifying as a nurse. She is also paying school fees for her 4-year-old grandson. 

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive, Rosamond Bennett, praised the impact of the charity’s supporters:

“The transformation in Esther’s fortunes in Malawi is only made possible by our incredible supporters who generously give each Christian Aid Week to fund our work to help tackle the root causes of poverty around the world.

Christian Aid Week has been running in Northern Ireland since 1957, making it the region’s longest running fundraising campaign. Each year, thousands of people donate to Christian Aid to support people living in some of the poorest countries in the world as well as countries coping with conflict, drought, risk of famine and the impacts of climate change. 

By supporting this year’s Christian Aid Week appeal, you can help more farmers like Esther secure a fair price for their crops and make their children’s dreams come true. For more information and to donate, please visit or call 028 9064 8133 to make a telephone donation.