Participants in FRB’s Kenya-Ngong Intashat program who join Self-Help Groups (SHG) learn a variety of skills that help them improve their families’ lives.
For example, Esther’s SHG received training on growing vegetables in sacks as a first step in starting their kitchen gardens. She became interested in the workshop during her community’s Participatory Rural Appraisal exercise on how to cut household costs through producing her own food. She started out with one sack garden set up near her kitchen and now has two. Once she began harvesting vegetables she realized how much they improved her family’s nutrition, and hopes one day to have 10 sack gardens. As she put it, “My children no longer eat only ugali [a starchy porridge] with tea. We have a balanced diet.” She uses the money she saves at the market to cover other household expenses. Esther encourages group members whose sack gardens are at the early stages of development by sharing her experience and suggesting possible solutions to challenges that may arise.
Members of six SHGs attended a two-day training on conservation agriculture and establishing demo plots on their fields so they could share their learning with others in their communities. Attendees learned how to select seeds, apply both organic and inorganic fertilizers, plant, and maintain the demo plots. Three demo plots were immediately established, and the farmers have begun interacting and training other people from other communities and sharing their new ideas.
Some groups are receiving training in "table banking" (community savings and loan practices) to learn to be more self-sufficient and reduce their dependency on donors. When groups save money together at regular meetings, they amass enough capital to provide low-interest loans to members who are then able to start or maintain income-generating activities. One such endeavor was to make and sell liquid soap. Since people have to use soap daily, soap making is an excellent way for SHG members to earn money. One SHG held a workshop on making liquid soap, and was able to sell 80 liters of surplus soap at market.
Kenya-Ngong Intashat encompasses 10 communities, 4,500 households and 31,500 individuals
My name is Martha Elena. I’ve always enjoyed having plants in my yard, and used to try to grow vegetables but without much success; they would wilt and not produce. I figured my soil wasn’t any good, or I just didn’t have a “green thumb.” I also got very discouraged when the animals would eat all my plants.
Then, a year ago, I participated in a workshop with ACJ about how to grow a vegetable garden. They showed us pictures of how folks like me had done it in other communities where they work. I agreed to give it another try, so the technical staff showed me how to prepare the earth for planting and how to use recycled materials like plastic bottles and other containers to plant in.
We constructed raised beds, out of the way of the animals. I was worried about how I would get enough water for my plants, but the ACJ staff assured me that they wouldn’t need as much in the containers. It was very satisfying for me to find that I could harvest lots of vegetables like onions, cucumber, beets, peppers and tomato after all. What’s more, our family can enjoy eating all our fresh produce knowing we aren’t consuming toxic chemicals, because we know what we put in our soil.
I’ve also learned how to keep my own seeds for planting. That helps me save money because I don’t need to buy seeds or fresh vegetables any more. And I’ve started a small business pickling vegetables from my garden to sell to local restaurants. My kids are learning right along with me, since they help me with our garden. They’ve learned about recycling at school, and they like to find ways to make good use of our plastic garbage.
I’m grateful to God for giving me strength and perseverance, and I hope to continue learning about how to grow healthier, tastier food in my garden.
FRB’s local partner, ACJ, has learned that women are motivated by concern for their children to learn to grow, prepare and eat healthy foods. Using creative planting containers like sacks, bottles, or raised beds makes it easy for them to look after their vegetables close to their homes. Not only do containers conserve more water than traditional open beds – especially important during the dry season – but placing them close to their homes means they don’t have to carry water very far, and can re-use wash water for their plants.
Nicaragua-Boaco encompasses 8 communities, 210 households, and 860 individuals
Participants in FRB's Palestine/Gaza program are learning to raise rabbits in order to improve their family's income and health status. The Hashem's use the money from the sale of these cotton-tailed critters to pay for school uniforms and supplies for their seven children. Read their story here!
FRB’s Nicaragua-Mateare program addresses food security issues in one of Latin America’s most food-insecure countries by training farmers in sustainable agriculture practices, and making sure that mothers with children ages 5 and under understand basic health practices, the importance of a balanced diet, and safe food preparation.
This integrated approach – growing enough food and ensuring that it is used to its best advantage for the health and wellbeing of all family members – is key to the success of the program. In Nicaragua, 1.2 million people are affected by hunger, environmental deterioration, chronic poverty, lack of potable water and insufficient food.
By engaging mothers in workshops on nutrition, hygiene and home gardening, the communities involved in FRB’s Peru-Chota program are seeing a reduction in child malnutrition. The 450 children are consuming 50% more calories per day over the last 3 years because their families have been able to diversify and improve the quantity and quality of the food they grow and eat. Also, since they are drinking clean water and washing their hands, children are less likely to be sickened by intestinal parasites. Their bodies can take better advantage of the nutrition now available to them.
I was completely amazed by the chubby baby in the arms of his mother, who sat across from me at the meeting. I don't think I've ever seen such a healthy looking baby in a village in this region before. What was this woman’s secret to having such a healthy baby, while so many are malnourished?
The baby’s mother, Esther, a participant in FRB’s West Africa 1 program, explained. "In the training I received on health I learned the importance of only giving breast milk for the first six months of a baby's life." The elders in Esther’s village had told young women that their first milk wasn't good, that they needed to throw it out and instead give their newborns water, or pass them to another woman to nurse. "Now we learned that the first milk is so important to give to our babies – that is what helps them grow strong!"
In April 2013, CWS hosted a delegation of CWS staff and volunteers from the US who came to visit CWS programs in Serbia and Georgia. In the Serbia-Smederevo program, they witnessed the joint program of CWS, Red Cross Smederevo and Foods Resource Bank providing food assistance and ensuring food security, they toured several pre-schools that provide secure place to young socially vulnerable children, visited the safe house for victims of domestic violence and talked to Smederevo local government officials and CWS local partners.