Ian and Janine Maxwell are in the business of hope. Specifically, the co-founders of Heart for Africa (Canada) are bringing hope to a place that needs it: the Kingdom of Eswatini. All with a little help from Canadian egg farmers who this year are celebrating five years of life-giving partnership with the Maxwells and Project Canaan—together working to rebuild the social fabric of this struggling nation.
“Eswatini has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world,” says Janine Maxwell. Nearly an entire generation of adult Swazis was taken by the disease—leaving behind half a million orphans and vulnerable children. Malnutrition is rampant. Unemployment is high. Hopelessness is everywhere and reversing it is Heart for Africa’s mission.
Heart for Africa (Canada) is tackling the key pillars of Eswatini’s many challenges—helping raise and educate orphans while providing nutritious food for the community. Five years ago, Egg Farmers of Canada started working with Heart for Africa (Canada) to build an egg farm that would bring the nutritional power of the humble egg to a place that needs more protein. Five years later an estimated 5 million eggs have been delivered via local church partners and feeding stations throughout rural Eswatini.
“Our partners can’t say enough good things about our feeding programs and the eggs,” says Janine. “Before us, the kids were still coming to local churches wishing to be fed. Churches were doing the best they could but now they feel like they can feed the children. You hear of people walking five kilometers to get a meal.”
Five years of adding eggs to their meal deliveries has made a big impact according to the Maxwells. “These kids are being fed a good, solid protein,” says Ian. “It’s life-giving. It demonstrates that somebody cares. And that means hope.”
Hope has paved a road of progress. The Maxwells’ Project Canaan started with a house on a hill where the couple could see many of the homesteads around them. Their nighttime view was marked by splashes of orange light, the glow of cooking fires. Today the Maxwells employ over 300 people—they’re the largest employer in the region. Now their neighbours’ houses glow with electrical lights and an unprecedented stability reigns.
But if hope is paving a happier road, there are many twists on the journey. The challenges facing Eswatini are growing. Three years of droughts have devastated subsistence crops and left more residents hungry. More kids are showing up on church doors in search of food. The problem is deepening. And this is where Canadians come in.
“The whole world doesn’t look like Canada,” says Janine. “We’ve been given a lot. We all need to give back.” And there are so many ways to give back with the Maxwells leading the way. Egg farmers continue to travel to Eswatini to support Project Canaan’s egg barn operation, volunteering their time and sharing their expertise.
Canadian supporters, like egg farmers, are participating in a grand mission of hope. The Maxwells’ first high school class will graduate in 2029 and according to Ian, “they’ll be ready to lead. There’s a vacuum for leadership. Our kids will be ready to step into those roles.”
And that’s the goal: helping the people of Eswatini envision a new collective future. “Dignity matters,” says Janine. “When people can feed their families it brings dignity. Project Canaan is a catalyst that we hope will be felt all over the country.”
Curious about the progress we’ve made during our five years of partnership in #CrackingHunger? Download our infographic to learn how the humble egg is making a difference in Eswatini.
Help keep Project Canaan sustainable for many years to come. Click here to make a donation to the Heart for Africa (Canada) egg project.