One Heart Africa’s Story
In 2010, Ryan Carmichael and Mancoba Hlatjwako started dreaming of providing free, quality education in rural areas of southern Africa. When Mancoba’s friend and mentor, Joseph Bhila, heard about this dream, he generously offered a plot of land he owned in a village that his father developed in southern Mozambique–a village of 6,000 people called Licilo. In Licilo, there were no preschools and only two primary schools to serve the entire population. Due to high unemployment rates in the village, most men leave to work in the mineral mines of South Africa. In their absence, women work in the local fields growing vegetables to feed their families and to make ends meet. When the men return, they often bring diseases like HIV and tuberculosis with them. Access to clean water was scarce and not available to everyone. Every month, Mancoba would come to the land Joseph had gifted, cook a simple meal, and share it with the neighbors. As relationships were built, so was the first preschool classroom in Licilo. And in 2012, the organization, One Heart Africa, was born with the mission to educate, equip, and empower rural areas of southern Africa. Since then, One Heart Africa’s flagship project, Sharing Hope Preschool, has grown to include 100 students, four full-time teachers, and three staff and four wells have been drilled in Licilo providing clean water to over 850 people.
As One Heart Africa grew, so did the need for a more sustainable approach. In 2013, we were offered a large, 22-acre plot of land at the base of the Lubombo mountains near Siteki, Eswatini. Today, it is known as Lubombo Valley Farms. The purpose of this project is to provide fresh, nutrient-dense food to our neighbors affected by HIV (which is a number that is estimated to be above 30% of the population in Eswatini) and also for area care points who serve orphaned and vulnerable children in our community. Through the farm, One Heart Africa is also able to teach sustainable farming techniques (including aquaponics and permaculture) while offering living-wage employment opportunities in our community.
We believe that the power of education can mold young minds. We believe that equipping communities with nutritional food and agricultural training can lead to healthy families. And we believe that empowering people with jobs that promote dignity and pride can transform generations to come. This is the power of partnership.