Story submitted by Bedilu Asmare and Yosef Tekile
The global hunger crisis is deepening. Worldwide, 45 per cent of child deaths are from hunger or hunger-related causes.
But, the hunger crisis isn’t just a set of statistics—it’s real people with names and stories, and children. Yadeni is one such person.
She lives in rural Ethiopia with her husband Endalu. Together, they are raising four daughters and one son in the community of Feyine Terano, Sasiga.
For as long as she can remember, Yadeni’s family has farmed cereal crops—mostly maize and sorghum—as well as cash crops like coffee. The land used to produce enough to feed the children with the surplus fetching a fair price in the market. But, over the past many years, Yadeni’s harvests have steadily dwindled.
And she’s not alone.
The entire district of Sasiga has a problem with soil infertility and acidity. Termites infest the soil and destroy crops. Erosion from deforestation washes away the topsoil. Agricultural production, and as a result family livelihoods, declines while community food insecurity rises. And an entrenched system of monocropping means families don’t eat a diverse diet, leading to increased malnutrition and some of those “hunger-related causes” of child death.
Hunger like this affects every area of community life—livelihoods, health, and even education. Hungry children don’t make good students—many drop out, and those who stay in school struggle to concentrate and learn.
Even though Yadeni and Endalu fed their children starches like maize and millet, they recognized that it wasn’t enough for their children to reach their full potential or build strong immune systems.
“My family could not feed the children,” she explains. “We could not get clean water and my children were going to health facilities frequently because of different diseases. As my children [were] always in a starving situation, I [was] always hopeless.”
You can hear the pain in this mother’s voice. She had to watch her children lose weight and grow increasingly listless from lack of nutrients. In addition, the low harvests meant there wasn’t enough to sell in the market to earn an income. With the little money they had going to their children’s medical fees, Yadeni and her husband couldn’t afford their children’s school fees or school supplies. New clothing and shoes were a luxury out of reach.
It wasn’t for lack of effort that Yadeni’s family suffered; no, she and Endalu worked hard! Yadeni pin-pointed their biggest obstacle when she said, “We lacked skills and knowledge for improving our life.”
That’s where FH Ethiopia came in!
They came alongside families in Sasiga to offer training on vegetable gardening, and gave improved seeds to the participants. Yadeni and her neighbours embraced new techniques to naturally renew the soil and repel pests. They faithfully planted both familiar vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and carrots as well as new veggies like cabbage and beetroot.
Her garden thrived! As Yadeni daily filled their table with tasty vegetables her children began gaining new strength and energy. Her garden was so successful that Yadeni sold the surplus in the market and earned money to provide her kids with school fees and everything they needed. Vegetables have made such a difference to families’ food security and health that they’ve become widely known in the community as “disease protection food.”
Yadeni explains how their vegetable garden has helped her family, “My family cultivated and managed vegetable crops and used [some] for home consumption and [sold] the rest to the local market and developed income. My children and family improved their health status after consuming the vegetables. As a family we are very much pleased that God has improved our life. Currently, I can feed my family!”
Putting a Face to the Hunger Stats: Yadeni's Story
If you would like to help more families like Yadeni’s grow life-giving, sustainable vegetable gardens, give a gift to Feeding Families.