Planting Seeds for the Future
More than 1 billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day and 800 million people need long-term food solutions. The cycle of poverty is strong and many regions in the world will reach the brink of a hunger crisis unless they are given the tools to provide for themselves.
Some of ADRA’s biggest tools to fight poverty and hunger come in tiny packages. Chicks, goats, or lambs from an animal bank, as well as seeds and agricultural training, play a part in our disaster risk reduction programs and can set a household or farm up for success that can last generations. Women in particular feel the effects of entering a marketplace previously closed to them, providing dependable income and self-reliance to them and their children.Donate Today
Saly’s & Bintu’s Story
Saly’s & Bintu’s Story
Saly’s & Bintu’s Story
Saly and Bintu live in Gao, located by the banks of Mali’s Niger River. The river is a precious resource, and many turn to fishing for income and for feeding their families. Saly’s and Bintu’s families aren’t fishermen, so they tried to grow vegetables. “We did not really know what we were doing, and we used gourds to water our 150-by-300-foot village garden. It was very hard, and we were always exhausted,” Saly told ADRA staff.
ADRA has successfully introduced drip irrigation systems to promote agriculture in many regions where the ground is sand.
ADRA assembled 12 gardening groups, mostly compromised of women, including Saly and Bintu. Together, they worked to implement the proper infrastructure needed to tend to a successful and sustainable garden. The groups installed water tanks that hold 1,056 gallons, a motorized pump to pull water from the Niger River, and finally drip irrigation lines to water the gardens.
“The first week we began using it, we had to turn the system on for six hours every day—three hours in the morning and three late in the day,” says Saly. “It took so much water for the seeds to get a good start. No wonder it was nearly impossible to grow anything using water from gourds!”
To get their gardens started, the groups were given seeds, fruit tree saplings, tools, and instructions to create a compost pit for organic fertilizer. To ensure the continuing success of the gardens, ADRA provided the gardeners with training on drip irrigation maintenance, financial management, and gardening techniques.
“Now we produce more food, and we sell more,” explains Bintu. “We use the money we receive to buy seeds and fuel and assure the maintenance of the motor pump. We also bring vegetables home for our families to eat. We no longer need to buy those vegetables in the market.”
Cynthia Wibabara is not like most 9-year-olds. When she comes home from school, her first priority is not to watch TV or make a snack for herself. She doesn’t start on her homework right away or take an afternoon nap, either. The first thing Cynthia does when she gets home from school is to check on her goat. And she has good reason, because this goat is sending her to school.
Cynthia is one of 127 students affected by ADRA’s sponsorship program. But it is not simply the cash-for-tuition style sponsorship. Such a program is unsustainable—when the cash is gone, it’s gone. A goat, however, is the gift that keeps giving. Especially a female goat, which keeps giving as many as three times a year. And in the agrarian Gatsibo district of eastern Rwanda, such a gift is well received. The manure fertilizes the crops, which in turn feed the goats and the people, creating an expanding system of health and prosperity.
Dan Kubwimana, an 8-year-old recipient of a goat, has passed the generosity on to his neighbors in a very literal way. When his goat gave birth to two kids, he gave one to the family next door. “I wanted to contribute to peace,” he said. In the post-genocide society, these gestures are invaluable for fostering unity, and have not gone unnoticed. Many other students have given baby goats to their neighbors as well.
These results are exactly what ADRA strives for. Giving money is useful but very temporary. A goat, however, teaches sustainability and accountability, and binds the community in a common goal. And yes, it provides income, too—far more in the long run than could be given in a single monetary donation.
Mrs. Wibabara knows this, having observed how her daughter cares for the goat and responsibly reaps the benefits. “I am no longer worried about my daughter’s studies,” she said. “Her goat will allow her to complete her studies without any problems.”
Some students need tutors, some need special curriculum, and others just need a goat.
For 63 years, Lam O. felt like a burden. Born blind in the Tay Ninh province, where visually impaired people are considered invalids, Lam struggled with a sense of worth. Then he married and had two children. His family loved and respected him, but he felt like a failure. He was unable to work and to provide for his wife and children. His son went to work as a day laborer just so his family could survive, but they still struggled in poverty. Lam began to lose hope.
Just when he felt complete despair, ADRA workers came to his house and asked if he was interested in joining the Cow Bank Initiative. When they explained the program, he responded with a joyous and emphatic “yes.”
Visual impairment is the most common disability in Vietnam. According to the UNFPA, 4 million people are visually impaired in Vietnam.
“People with visual impairment lack access to education, health care, jobs, and many other basic social services,” said Nguyen Anh Thinh, programs director of ADRA Vietnam. “They often have low incomes, so we concentrate on helping them generate income with a particular model that they can participate in and apply.”
In Vietnam, that model is the cow bank. The system is simple and cost-effective, and it is changing lives.
A family is given a female cow and training on how to care for it. They mate the cow with a bull and wait for her to give birth. Once she delivers the calf, the family gives the calf to the cow bank, and they keep the mother. After that, they are allowed to keep all her subsequent calves. When the firstborn calf given to the cow bank reaches the appropriate age, she is in turn given to another family, and the cycle begins again.
Since its launch in 2010, this program has affected more than 160 families. And in a society where a single cow is worth $2,000, these families are lifted out of poverty and provided with tangible, measurable hope.
Lam and his family are among the beneficiaries. He and his wife care for the cow together, taking it to the field in the morning and evening. She has already given birth twice and is carrying a third.
“This is a new beginning for us,” said Lam. “The cow is the most precious asset we own, and it will secure our future.”