Food for Their Future
Nearly 1 billion children, women, and men in the world today are hungry. They are the victims of natural disasters and climate changes, the unemployed living in urban slums, the landless farmers tilling other people’s fields, the widows of war, and the orphans of AIDS.
For years, ADRA has implemented food security initiatives throughout Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Our global ADRA team works with people of every age to show them new ways to produce food for their future— including sustainable agriculture practices and the use of new technologies, such as irrigation systems and greenhouses, how to access markets and increase trade, and protecting their environment through land management and reforestation.
Tsitsi, her husband, Isaac, and their five children had been receiving food aid for their family to survive. Where they live in Zimbabwe, it’s not uncommon to remain in a cycle of food aid for years because it’s difficult to start over when conditions haven’t changed.
Tsitsi and her family were ready to finally become self-reliant.
ADRA’s Beyond Food Aid program helps families become self-reliant and healthy through a system of agricultural and livelihood support.
As a coping mechanism after food aid support, Tsitsi joined one of ADRA’s Beyond Food Aid initiatives. The program seeks to provide a livelihood option for those who have been discharged from food aid support or are recovered enough to undertake livelihood activities.
“ADRA realized that I was now fit enough to be able to be discharged [from food aid] and work for my family. They paired me with a lead farmer in a Ruwa garden who would assist me to grow crops to feed my family, and they helped us start a chicken project in which we sell and eat some of the meat from the chickens. I was also able to attend different trainings in crop production, health and hygiene, and nutrition; these were very helpful, as I learned how to grow the food and also how to prepare it in a way that would help my family to be healthy. ADRA provided me with seeds, skills, and someone to assist me; I can now fend for myself and the family,” says Tsitsi.
ADRA Zimbabwe came up with this initiative after noting high levels of relapses and readmissions into the food aid program and decided to design a program that would be a sustainable source of nutritious food. Tsitsi is one of the 20 former food aid recipients who have joined one of ADRA’s nutrition garden programs, and there will be many more to come.
Voahary is 15 and is a growing boy in the outskirts of Antananarivo in Madagascar. He sits restlessly in his seat at school, but today he’s lucky. His distraction these days is brought on by his desire to get outside and play, but it wasn’t that long ago that his lack of concentration came from hunger.
A rumbling tummy while in class is much more than a distraction for a child like Voahary, whose family is too poor to provide him with breakfast or lunch. When kids go hungry, they aren’t able to concentrate and lack the energy to keep up and get the education they deserve.
ADRA has begun school lunch programs in Madagascar, feeding 1,115 children during the school year with more than 20,000 meal packages.
Impoverished families often have to choose either food or education because they don’t have enough to provide resources for both. Schools in the area where Voahary lives had seen enrollment decrease dramatically in recent years. In less than five years, Voahary’s school went from more than 900 students down to 380 students.
ADRA supports education through several projects, including school feeding programs. These programs improve students’ learning and motivate parents to keep their children in school. ADRA distributes meal packages to six primary schools and one orphanage in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
In total, 20,050 meal packages have been distributed, providing lunches for 1,115 students. Each package contains a complete meal of rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy protein, and a seasoning packet fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Voahary’s father is a street sweeper, and his mother is a laundry maid—neither brings in much income, and they depend on their children for household chores and fetching water. So before ADRA’s program began, Voahary was using a lot of energy but not eating enough to keep up with it.
Regular lunches have transformed Voahary into an active student with big dreams. He hopes to become a physician one day so that he can help others stay healthy.
Makai’s story is not uncommon in the Mandera area of Kenya. She has lived through times of plenty and seen her family grow and prosper, but her world was forever changed a few years ago.
“Before my husband passed away, we used to be one of the leading livestock traders in Takaba, with overwhelming numbers of camel, goats, and cattle. After his death, I was already suffering and then we suffered a lack of rain for three consecutive seasons.”
ADRA targeted 500 households in the isolated Mandera region of Kenya with a combination of food aid, agricultural training, multi-story gardens, and support for sustainable food production.
“Most of the earth pans dried and 75% of my livestock succumbed to the shocking drought. The remaining animals were emaciated and I had to sell them at a throwaway price to support my eight children.”
You can see the hurt in her eyes when she recounts the pain and anguish of not just losing her husband, but the subsequent loss of her livelihood, and the difficulty it caused her family.
“Livestock used to be the only source of livelihood for our household. Skipping a meal was therefore not avoidable as eight children were too much for a vulnerable widow,” says Makai.
Her face changes and her eyes look up as she begins telling her journey with ADRA Kenya. “God sent to us ADRA Kenya and I was considered to be among the 40 beneficiary households.”
ADRA provided Makai’s family with food but, more importantly, worked with her to plant a garden of diverse vegetables. Having this sustainable source of produce means that her and her eight children have a constant source of nutrition.
Makai proudly shows us her flourishing garden of kale, tomato and spinach; full of greenery amongst the background of red dirt.
When the family has extra produce, they are able to sell it for income as well. “I am selling three leaves of kale at Ksh. 20 (USD$0.22 cents), I have been able to earn more than Ksh. 800 (USD$8.88) in the last three weeks.”
“ADRA Kenya has also supported us with enough seeds and I am now planning to establish nurseries for the second crop of kale, spinach and tomatoes.”
As a widow and a mother, Makai faced an uncertain future. But because of her hard work and partnership with ADRA Kenya, Makai and her children, can look forward to a future full of hope.
At the age of 22 months, Halimu fell ill. She could not move or eat and had a high fever. Her mother, Abshiru, did not know what was wrong or what to do. The small village in Ethiopia where she lives has limited resources, and her husband is disabled and unable to work. Abshiru had almost no hope for her daughter’s survival.
ADRA’s supplemental feeding and training program provides food for children like Halimu, who suffer from malnutrition.
Abshiru took Halimu to a nurse at a local health center, who immediately advised the mother to bring the baby to ADRA’s health center. As soon as Abshiru arrived at the ADRA center, a nurse measured Halimu’s arm, diagnosed her with severe malnutrition, and started treating her with medicine.
The nurse gave Halimu a small amount of Plumpy’Nut, a peanut-based food that reverses malnutrition. The baby swallowed it—the first mouthful of food that she had eaten in a long time.
It took many weeks of screenings, checkups, and nutritional support before Halimu was well again. But now Halimu is able to walk and play with other children, and Abshiru cannot stop smiling.
Every day, children like Halimu are at risk of dying from malnutrition. ADRA’s supplementary feeding programs have saved more than 10,000 children like Halimu by placing them on eight-week rehabilitation courses to reverse their malnutrition. Thanks to donations from around the world, ADRA has trained hundreds of health workers and community volunteers to identify children and mothers suffering from malnutrition, thereby saving countless lives.