WRITTEN BY BETH ALLEN
Organizations like Food for the Hungry commemorate World Food Day to remember those who go to bed with empty stomachs every night. But we also celebrate how vulnerable farmers all over the world now feed their families regular, nutritious meals.
You may think that charities like FH use donations to hand out food. This is certainly true when there’s a shortage of food. And it certainly applies in areas where people are unable to farm. FH has provided food deliveries to respond to drought in Ethiopia, or to families caught in the crossfire of the civil war in South Sudan.
In reality, most of FH’s food-related work helps families find long-term solutions to providing food for their children. Additionally, FH often helps farmers add new crops that not only bring in income, but also broaden the list of vitamins and minerals their children consume every day.
With Food, “My Future is Bright”
Beri Geigel lives with his wife and three of his five children in Ethiopia. His small plot of land only gave one harvest per year. And each year, the harvest diminished. His income dried up and his family didn’t eat regularly. It also pained Geigel that he couldn’t afford to send his children to school.
When FH entered his community, Beri was one of the farmers who participated in agricultural training. He was already planting maize and sorghum, which the family could eat and sell. But maize and sorghum don’t provide all the nutrients needed for children to mature physically and intellectually.
With FH’s help, Beri received 250 grams (about two cups) of various vegetable seeds. He also received FH’s help learning how to irrigate his land, by diverting water from a river. This allowed him to plant and harvest twice a year, instead of planting once a year with reliance solely on seasonal rainfall. The irrigation also allowed him to plant new crops like onions and tomatoes. “My future is bright,” said Beri.
Food Gifts to Neighbors
Beri reported in August that he had sold onions for $55 and tomatoes for $126 during the past three months. And even with that income, he still had tomatoes left ripening in the field. He had enough to provide for his family and sell — and also crops left over to give to his neighbors.
“It’s really unbelievable for me to eat and get a yield at least twice a year from the same plot,” Beri said. “Really, that training day was my turning point in life.”
A bonus for Beri is that his children could stay in school, and in fact one of his daughters entered university recently. He has one daughter in eleventh grade, and two other children in elementary school. Because they have the money to attend school regularly, and better nutrition so they can concentrate, the children have a much brighter future ahead.
As for Beri, he continues to dream big. He’s set his sights on producing three crops a year instead of only two. “This is why I always say, ‘Bless you, FH,” Beri said.