MEET HARRIET

The Mastercard Foundation - EARTH University Fellowship Program

Harriet Cheelo

Country: Zambia
Track: Employment
Position: Climate Smart Agriculture Guide Programme Fellow
Host company/organization: CAMFED Zambia
About position: Harriet is working with CAMFED’s first climate-smart demonstration farm. She is training 40 young women to be Agricultural Guides and implement sustainable agricultural practices across Zambia.

Harriet completed a graduation project called, Collaborative Design for Food Security Alternatives with Women in Kaoma, Zambia. Her project is trying to find sustainable ways of food production with small-scale farmers who have agriculture as their only source of livelihood. Harriet hopes to help them with sustainable agricultural practices that will improve the quality and quantity of food.

Harriet did her internship at the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI). She wanted to acquire experience about how agricultural institutions work in her country and learn which practices seen and learned at EARTH are applicable in Zambia. “My experience was amazing as I was able to put what I have been learning into practice, and I grew so much while working at an actual institution.”

Her professional work experience in fourth year offered training on soft skills to small-scale farms from nearby communities, and she discovered the importance of nurturing these skills as well as developing professional skills. This was close to her heart, as community development is her passion. She reflects on suddenly finding herself in the perfect place because of all the opportunities she was having to work with people from nearby communities. “EARTH teaches us not only about environmental issues but also about social impact. As a team, we must find opportunities to give back to them.” Harriet has strengthened her teamwork skills at EARTH. “I have learned to listen to different ideas and understood different ways of seeing life. This is one of the best lessons I have had. Effective communication is key in teamwork, tolerance, and patience with others.”

EARTH teaches us not only about environmental issues but also about social impact. As a team, we must find opportunities to give back to them. – Harriet

Her happiest moments at EARTH are countless, but she mentioned her first four months in Costa Rica- during her Spanish program- as some of the most memorable days. She was introduced to a very loving and caring family and had the opportunity to live with them and truly immerse herself in the Costa Rican culture. “I called them mom and dad, and that helped me to ease the stress of coming from far away and not knowing how to speak the language or what to expect. They really made me enjoy the experience of learning the names of different objects, listening to music and movies in Spanish, and visiting different places in Costa Rica.” Harriet describes having a Costa Rican family as the best gift EARTH has given her. The multicultural environment and her peers have also been a highlight in her journey: “Tears of joy, tears of sadness. It has all been worth it.”

Harriet’s mission is barely starting. She plans on giving back by focusing on gender empowerment programs and finding ways to involve women in the agricultural industry. “I hope to start a sustainable agricultural practice training center for women to build access to markets, maybe a platform to really sell themselves out by supplying practices for continuous production of food and clients to change their standards of living.”

Harriet has exciting plans after graduation. She was selected to participate in the Fellowship Program, a novel initiative that has been created in partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and EARTH University to facilitate recent African graduates’ transition from university to launch purposeful careers in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors in their countries of origin. As a Fellow, she will gain professional experience with her host partner, CAMFED Zambia, working in community outreach and building relationships with key stakeholders.

Harriet’s professional dream came true, and as she puts it, “It’s a big wow for me and my family. Please continue doing this. You are changing many lives.” She now truly believes that everything is achievable if you work for it and if you are dedicated and willing to make that change. “Success is a daily achievement, and dedication and perseverance are something we should carry in our hearts no matter how difficult life may get. Thank you, Mastercard, it’s been a great journey!”

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