The Chicken Project

Zambian man taking care of chickens in a chicken coop.

As we continue to work in communities devastated by drought and poverty, creating sustainable solutions is of the utmost importance. We are grateful for kind-hearted, committed members of our community who continue to help us work toward our mission of strengthening communities, empowering women & youth, and caring for the most vulnerable for more than 30 years.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.

– Desmond Tutu

Over the past three years, the communities we serve in Zambia have been devastated by drought and disease amidst ever changing world conditions. Surrounded by darkness, this project once again demonstrated the hope that comes from joining together in community to better the lives of others—reminding us of these words by Desmond Tutu.

In alignment with our commitment to create sustainable, locally-led programs, our staff in Zambia saw the immense toll of food insecurity and malnutrition among those we serve and placed an increased focus on food relief. After hearing of the immense need for this program, Melissa & Joel Gardner came together with their family and friends to be a force for change—allowing us to implement the chicken project to ensure a consistent, protein-dense source of food for hundreds of children in these communities. 

In the first seven months of operation from January–July 2022, we have gathered 22,713 eggs from our 230 chickens. This has allowed us to provide each of our 52 children living at the Children’s Resource Center with an egg each week—with those who are HIV+ receiving eggs daily. Additionally, we are using the eggs each month in school lunches for the 714 students at the Carol Zulu Primary School. It is efforts, like the chicken project, that shine light in the face of darkness and emphasize the presence of hope and power of love.

Outside view of the chicken coop in Zambia.

In September 2021, construction began on a chicken coop that will be able to house up to 1,000 chickens! This facility is split into two coops to allow us to expand the project and to ensure space to separate any chickens that become ill to protect the rest of the chickens from disease. 

Lots of chickens in a chicken coop eating feed from handing feeders.

In January 2022, the building was completed and we purchased 260 chickens to pilot the project.

Zambian man smiling in front of a chicken coop.


As the manager of the chicken project, Richard has impressed us with his diligence in gaining knowledge to ensure the project’s success. 

One day another staff member, Lord, asked if he could go inside the coop to see the chickens. Richard expressed that the only way Lord would be allowed to go inside was if he changed into Richard’s clothes. 

Richard had learned that the chickens’ egg production is highly correlated with maintaining a consistent environment, even down to the smell of Richard’s clothes. 

We are grateful for Richard’s dedication to the quality and success of our programs!

A Zambian man gathering eggs and putting them in a carton.

Of the 22,713 eggs that have been collected from January–July 2022, about 32% of the eggs are used in meals for the children in our orphan transition center and primary school.

The remaining 68% are sold to local vendors—generating income that is invested back into the chicken project to ensure a self-sustaining operating model. Our staff is continually monitoring the project’s progress and will run a cost-benefit analysis in December 2022 to review the impact and future of the project.

Orange chicken icon with a light green background.



Two yellow eggs icon with a light green background.


eggs collected

African kids wearing yellow icon on a light green background.


children fed monthly

A woman scooping egg relish and putting it on a child's plate.

When used for school lunch, the eggs are either boiled or prepared as an “egg relish”—scrambled eggs with onions and peppers—which the kids love!

A group of school kids in Zambia eating lunch on benches.

With the introduction of this project, hundreds of children now have a consistent source of protein in their diet.

Little Zambian school girl smiling with her plate of food.

At Mothers Without Borders we believe that we belong to each other, so we take care of each other. The completion of this project is a very physical manifestation of love and compassion! The power of love truly connects us across continents, time, and circumstances. We are grateful to Melissa & Joel Gardner, Joan Wright, Robert Goldberg, Dave Boland, Douglas Wood, and their friends and family for their generosity and commitment to bettering the lives of those we serve in Zambia.

Woman with a baby smiling in between Melissa and Joel Gardner in Zambia.

We love being a part of the Mothers Without Borders Family. Joel and I had been looking for a way to help strengthen the community we’ve grown to know and love in a sustainable way and, at the same time, meet one of the essential basic needs: food. If you are hungry, other things don’t matter much. The Chicken Project fits all of the criteria we’d been hoping for.

We reached out to a few of Joel’s colleagues to help fund the project and they were very excited. In just one month, the project was underway, and by January 2022, we were producing eggs! It feels fantastic to know that basic needs are being met, jobs have been created, and our community in Zambia will be healthier. Margaret Mead said it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Melissa & Joel Gardner


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