The name Ingham has long been associated with chickens and also extreme wealth as producers extraordinaire within the Australasian food industry.
Though no relation, the Ingham family from Maungaturoto is now beginning an association with chicken farming. They also have great wealth but in this case measured through faith, goodwill and the satisfaction of helping those in need.
Adrian and Juanita and their family have made several overseas excursions but their trip to India earlier this year sowed the seed of an industry with the potential to provide employment and therefore a degree of independence to a small village situated among a large population.
Previous trips have been in an evangelical tenor as members of YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and include establishing a fresh water system on the remote island of Ambrym, Vanuatu.
“We prefer not to go as tourists,” says Juanita “and we like to integrate with the real people.”
Earlier this year they spent 10 weeks in India staying with friends – American-born Jaimie and her Indian husband Maang Haokip – in the north-eastern area of Manipur.
It was here that a chance meeting with a chicken led Juanita Ingham to consider the possibility of setting up a chicken farming project that could be run by villagers, supplying initially jobs and then an important food source through meat, chickens or eggs for impoverished villagers, especially children.
While the ‘sacred cow’ edict is still predominant in India, chicken is by far the greatest meat consumed and is also the easiest for the villagers to adapt to on a large scale.
So, after brainstorming, a feasibility study, location of suitable land and lots of enthusiasm, the Chickens 4 India project was ‘hatched’.
“I’m an ‘out there’ thinker,” Juanita admits. “In India I read a billboard that said ‘How brave is your love’. Sometimes we need to be really brave to allow dreams and ideas to become reality and so this is an endeavour to make a small difference in the lives of those, for whom hardship and poverty is routine.
“I have tremendous empathy for the people, their living standards and the hopelessness which appears to pervade some of the slum areas in a country with over a billion people. I know we can’t save the world but if people are prepared to help themselves then we are prepared to help them.”
Juanita says getting families involved and empowering people is infectious once people see results.
The project is not expensive by New Zealand standards, but the more that’s raised the more the project can be developed.
Juanita has set up a legal charitable trust so all funds can be traceable.
Buildings have been constructed by eager villagers and the new venture is about to take shape, beginning with 1000 chickens that will be either edible or close to laying in 45 days providing either meat or much needed protein.
“We all have dreams but if enough of us have the same dream then something can be produced as a result,” says Juanita.
■ To make a donation or follow the progress of the venture go to chickens4india.com or facebook.com/chickens4india.