Aug 25, 2021

Adapting through COVID-19

Women with garden sign
Women with garden sign

Hi there folks, 

This update comes to us from Uganda, where Preserve International has pivoted from their original program to persist in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The realities of the situation on the ground have challenged many of our affiliates, including Preserve International. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, our partners have been resilient and, we’re pleased to report, have seen their continued efforts rewarded.  

Initially, the plan was to have women from the Swinga Women’s Group use seeds donated by SPI to become an agriculturally self-sufficient community within the BidiBidi Refugee camp. Due to complications and restrictions associated with COVID-19, their plans had to change. Now, the primary focus is on creating opportunities for Swinga Women’s Group members to earn money selling their crops. Over the last few months, Preserve International has trained and paid the women to manage farms on the Sparky Dryer at their new compound in Yumbe. Through this effort, the participants prepared a new demonstration farm and preserved the harvest from their pilot demonstration farm. 

The benefits of providing aid and seeds to the Swinga Women’s Group, in partnership with Preserve International, are evident. Most importantly, at the new compound, women have access to beds, shelter, rooms, and education/training to ensure the health and safety of all the women, staff, and community members involved in this project. Participants say that they feel a renewed sense of hope and pride in their work. Meanwhile, Preserve International notes that the opportunity to create their own business from the food they grow has helped some women avoid making difficult decisions, such as early marriage and dropping out of school. Long term, it is expected that this new direction will only grow as the success of Swinga Women’s Group continues to succeed.

Moving forward, it is clear that the ramifications of COVID-19 are not going away anytime soon. The original goal to provide the tools and training for this community to be agriculturally self-sufficient was originally scheduled for 2020, but any semblance of a post-covid world is unlikely to come to Uganda until at least late 2022. Similarly, travel to Yumbe had to be put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we expect to deliver a new shipment of SPI seeds in early 2022. We look forward to seeing Preserve International continue to meet the moment and address the most pressing needs of their constituents. With your sustained donations, we will help make the new goal of total self-sustaining communities a reality. 

From our team at SPI and our partners at Preserve International, thank you for your support.

Women in classroom
Women in classroom
Drying okra
Drying okra
Aug 13, 2021

School Gardens in Haiti

Field preparation of the nursery
Field preparation of the nursery

Hi there folks, 

We are excited to share the latest successes from Saint-Juste François and students like him at Feed the Children Haiti. Without supporters like YOU, the school garden projects would not be possible.  SPI, Feed the Children Haiti, and students like Saint-Juste François, thank YOU! 

Throughout the year, the school children worked in the garden, learning more and more about how to grow vegetables, care for them, and the best techniques and methods for cultivating a garden. Although there was trouble with sprouting the seeds at first, the teachers and children worked together to cultivate the garden soil. With that minor adjustment, the garden began to blossom and grow plenty of fresh vegetables.

The main goals of the school gardens were to teach children about the importance of agriculture and provide them with the skills to grow vegetables, both in the school garden and at home. In this way, the students’ knowledge supports the community’s nutritional needs. The participating schools, Coatalem de Dufresney, Ecole Mixte Freres Petits, and the St-Rock community, used the vegetables from the school gardens in their school meals, providing a better nutritional balance for growing children-- something incredibly important in these low-income areas.

One student, Saint-Juste François, provided a testimonial, saying that, “It has been one of my best experiences… Considering the economic situation of our country it was a great help for us.” He continues, “The inhabitants of the area are happy to know the crops that can be grown in the area. Some have already known about the garden in schools. They participate in weeding and

Transplanting workshops. They understood the importance of agriculture for the economy. There are many who ask for information regarding the creation of a garden.”

By supporting the School Garden Project, YOU are providing hands-on experience for students to learn about growing vegetables and agriculture. They can then use this to assist in their communities. Already, many of them have taken what they learned and taught their friends and family about growing their own vegetables. With these efforts, the nutrition of the local community has improved.  The goal is for local community members to continue growing vegetables for years to come. An enriching experience like this can have a monumental impact on people, and it’s SPI’s hope that these seeds and the school garden project as a whole will continue to help the community, and provide a learning experience for all involved.

From our partners at Feed the Children, thank YOU for your support!

— Feed the children & the SPI Team

Chinese cabbage
Chinese cabbage
Cabbage plots after transplant
Cabbage plots after transplant
Overview of nursery
Overview of nursery
Jul 1, 2021

Aid in Malawi with Grace of God Orphan Ministry

Joseph in his garden
Joseph in his garden

Hi folks,

This report comes courtesy of our partner in Malawi, the Grace of God Orphan Ministry. They’re working to provide families in need with access to seeds, knowledge, and the tools needed to help grow those seeds. This is done to help combat food insecurity, as well as provide proper nutrition to families all throughout Malawi. SPI sent them seeds in April and now those seeds have grown and provided fresh vegetables for families in need. In Malawi, 90% of the country is living in poverty or near poverty, so making sure local families and communities have access to proper vegetables and nutrition is incredibly important.

Two families in particular, Joseph’s and Emmanuel’s, have some great stories to share with you. Joseph, his wife Mary, and their four children have made their own garden with the seeds, and their garden is well underway with all sorts of vegetables and fruits being grown for the family to enjoy. They’ve had so much success that Joseph plans to expand their garden and add different vegetable varieties. He will then sell excess produce for income. 

Joseph also gives credit to the garden for changing his family’s eating habits and providing greater nutrition to his children, helping them become stronger and healthier. They’ve grown all sorts of vegetables, from spinach and tomatoes to onions and peas. To ensure that the kids don’t get bored of eating the same thing all the time, they continually find new ways to cook and eat the vegetables and fruits they’ve grown.

Emmanuel’s story is similar. He says that seeds have been a great help to them. By growing and selling them, Emmanuel says he will be able to pay for his kids’ school, and be able to continue feeding his family. 

The seeds are an important step to self-reliance in Malawi. Families are looking into fertilizer and water pumps to help combat the dry seasons in East Africa and to grow the seeds year round. The agricultural industry in Malawi is a massive part of its economy, so access to seeds and equipment to grow plants and vegetables is essential to Malawi’s economic growth, and improving the lives of the people living and working there. Making sure families in need have access to affordable seeds is crucial to ensuring the health and nutrition of families everywhere, and in an impoverished area like Malawi, that’s especially important.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in a massive way, and it’ll take all of us working together to return to a sense of normalcy. On behalf of Seed Programs International, thank you so much for your continued support this past year, and into 2021!

— The SPI Team

Joseph's garden
Joseph's garden
Emmanuel in his garden
Emmanuel in his garden
 
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