Sierra Leone is among the poorest nations in the world; a country where more than half of the population suffers from malnutrition and more than 500,000 children are at immediate risk of death due to severe malnutrition and the accompanying illnesses caused by a lack of proper nutrition.
That’s why it’s so important for us at Bread and Water for Africa to be able to support our partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), in its effort to train subsistence farmers — primarily women and youth — on how to make the best use of their small tracts of land.
In addition, through the agricultural training program 75 participants — 50 women and 25 youth — receive seeds, hand tools, fertilizers and pesticides to increase their harvests, not only to produce food for their families, but also to generate a surplus to sell at local markets.
Among them last year was Esther Ngaojah, who had been attending school in hopes of getting an education and making a better life. But that all changed when she became pregnant, and her father was so angry that he drove her from his house.
With no other option, Esther moved into the man’s house in another village where within five years she had three children. And when he lost his job, he left the village in search of work — but two years later he had not returned or even left word as to his whereabouts, leaving her alone to fend for herself and children.
In fact, things became so hard for Esther and her children that they barely survived until she learned of FHDO’s farmers training program and learned how to cultivate and sell groundnuts (peanuts), a staple food in the country.
“For me,” Esther told us, “FHDO came on a rescue mission. With the knowledge and support I got from FHDO (with the funding from Bread and Water for Africa), I have been able to produce enough groundnuts to sell.
“I now have food for my children and hope to send them to school,” she added, noting that she has started a small business “on my own with the funds I raised out of the groundnut sales.”
Another whose lives have been transformed through the farmer’s training program is Abdul Bangalie, along with his wife, Sarah Bangalie, and their children in the village of Talia Yawbeco which had been particularly hard hit during the deadly civil war of 1991-2002.
He strived to feed and support his family through subsistence farming “but with very little result because of lack of support and know how,” reported FHDO executive director the Rev. Francis Mambu.
“I have tried many times to get assisted from government-funded programs, but to no avail,” Abdul told us. “It was a great relief when FHDO staff reached our village and registered me for the training and assistance.”
With the support of seeds and farming tools he received, Rev. Mambu informed us that he was able to grow a variety of crops including tomatoes, pumpkins and various vegetables.
“God being merciful to me gave me a good yield in my farming,” says Abdul today. “I have been able to establish a small business for my wife and the living conditions of my family has improved. I am so grateful to God for Bread and Water for Africa assistance through FHDO.
“I can’t wait for the next farming season.”
To date, through our agriculture training program we have assisted nearly 700 women and youth small holder farmers succeed even in the poorest and least developed rural regions of the impoverished country, who through their effort and hard work have benefited thousands of others.
Rev. Mambu notes that farming is the primary source of sustenance and income for the millions of rural people of Sierra Leone “and it is at the subsistence level.
“Most women and youth in the Sogbini chiefdom where FHDO operate are unskilled and do not have knowledge of enterprise development, petty trading and related actives — let alone capital for startup.
“The grant support from Bread and Water for Africa assists us to successfully empower and carry out capacity building/skills training for poor, rural women and youth for ultimate self-reliance.”