It may a be well-known cliché that if you give a person a fish he eats for a day, but teach them how to fish and they eat for their lifetime.
However, that doesn’t make it any less true.
And the same goes for planting, gardening and farming, especially for hardworking growers in sub-Saharan African countries – primarily women – who are struggling to grow enough food to feed their families – primarily young children – much less harvest any surplus to sell at the village market.
Sadly, the situation is only worsening due to climate change causing severe drought in many regions, and severe flooding in others.
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we have been working for years with our grassroots partners in Sierra Leone who offer agricultural training courses for women and youth to teach them best farming practices, as well as provide them with the seeds, fertilizers, and tools they need to grow bountiful harvests.
In 2022 alone, according to our partners’ reports, a total of 22,095 individuals benefited directly, those who participated in the training, and indirectly, those children and family members who literally enjoyed the “fruits of their labors” through increased harvests.
In addition, many of those newly-empowered farmers not only grew enough to ensure their children weren’t going hungry on a daily basis –perhaps for the first time in their young lives – but with the income generated by selling the cassava (a staple food in Sierra Leone) or groundnuts (peanuts) they grew at the local market they were able to pay their children’s school fees, enabling them to realize their greatest wish of attending school and getting an education.
Amie John, a 20-year-old mother of two who did not complete primary school, was among those who had the opportunity to attend training sessions offered by our partner, Rural Youth Development Organization-Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL) last year where she learned how to significantly increase her crops’ yields.
Amie said that before she received her training, which included business and management skills, she had been at a loss of how to best provide for her children.
“I used to select the wrong type of land for particular crops while working alongside my father and mother and we sometimes planted late, which was giving low yields,” she told us.
“Today, I am proud to have a farm which can help me support my two children,” she says. “I am so grateful to Bread and Water for Africa® and RYDO-SL for the training, support, and tools I received for my farming. It has helped me to cultivate three acres of cassava and rice to feed my family and sell the surplus in the market so food can be available at home all the time.”
And, over time, Amie says her impressive harvests “will allow me to cultivate more land next year and empower me to be economically self-sufficient.”
Another is Jeneba, one of four wives who are each responsible for cultivating land owned by her husband who plants cassava and groundnuts.
“A part of what I produce is for home consumption,” she told us, “but the majority is sold to take care of health and school fees for my children.”
Jeneba reported that following the training, “my income has increased, and I am allowed to save money.
“I am so grateful to Bread and Water for Africa® for the training and support I received for my farming.”
The word has spread in Amie’s and Jeneba’s communities, as RYDO-SL program manager Joseph Kobba notes “their success (along with that of 70 others who benefited from the training last year) and improved economic situation has not gone unnoticed by other community members.”
For 2023, with the help of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we hope to provide hundreds more with the same training, tools, and materials to transform their lives just as it did for Amie and Jeneba.
In addition, this coming year we are planning on continuing the expansion of operations of a 240-acre farm in Sierra Leone which provides support in the form of food and income to the Karen Baird Children’s Home in Sierra Leone, as well providing support to a poultry project in Zambia to benefit our longtime partner there, Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre.