Surely everyone has heard the oft-quoted proverb: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® we take that maxim a step further through our agriculture programs which allow us to instead of giving a man – or more often a woman – a bag of rice to feed their family for a week, we provide them with the knowledge and means to grow their own rice to feed their families not only for their lifetime, but for generations as the knowledge is passed down from parents to children.
In fact, notes the website quoteinvestigator.com, “The general principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency has a long history” going back to as early as the 12-century philosopher Maimonides who wrote about eight degrees of charity.
“Lastly, the eighth and most meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity by preventing poverty, namely, to assist the reduced brother…by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced the dreadful alternative of holding up his hand for charity…”
We have been doing just that at Bread and Water for Africa® for some 30 years as we have been helping our partners, such as the Lewa Children’s Home’s Baraka Farm in Kenya to establish farming operations that ultimately lead to self-sufficiency, and in Sierra Leone through supporting female farmers through teaching them best practices for getting the most from their tiny piece of land, and them providing them with the tools to do so.
This past year, for example working with our partner in Sierra Leone, the Rural Youth Development Organization (RYDO), a total of 75 rural women, youth and young adults were trained how to grow vegetables and other crops, provided with essential farming tools and supported in establishing small business enterprises such as food sales and other related small businesses based on local demands.
The impact of that single program is far reaching with the number of individuals estimated by RYDO program manager Joseph Kobba to have benefited directly or indirectly to be 19,000.
Among them is 28-year-old Alusine Kamanda who lives in the village of Ngehun Songa near the city of Bo who had to drop out of secondary school because there was no one to pay his school fees following the death of both his parents during the Ebola virus outbreak in the country in 2014-2015. Knowing of his struggles, Alusine was contacted by RYDO staff in their efforts to register vulnerable youths for the Bread and Water for Africa® COVID-19 support program.
“I am now a proud farmer because I can now grow rice on a large scale that can feed my brothers and sisters,” says Alusine. “Farming is very expensive work, but the support I received from Bread and Water for Africa® has helped me to take a big step forward.”
Alusine also wants all the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® to know that their gifts have not just been of great help to himself and his siblings “but a blessing for my community. “Thanks be to God for the farming tools and training I got from the COVID-19 relief program. My first harvest surplus is this year, and I am selling it in the community I love.”