Mary, with her youngest of 8 children.
Amid the chaos of the war, the Sudanese ability to successfully farm year round was tragically lost.
Hiding in the bush, fleeing outside of the country, and living in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps, the war left the people of South Sudan no opportunity to practice long-term cultivation. Rather than relying on natural self-sufficiency, most were forced into a life of dependency.
One of the most important ways you’re helping transform lives in the village of Lietnhom is through training, equipping, and empowering families for dry season farming. This practice ensures hungry families have enough food during the dry season to survive. The training is initially done in groups on a shared plot of land. Apart from these organized groups, very few South Sudanese practice dry season farming.
I met Mary on a Tuesday at noon – the hottest time of day in South Sudan. Towering over my tiny frame, the 6-foot tall woman gracefully sauntered over to shake my hand, barely a bead of sweat to be found on her beautiful and intricately scarred face. Smiling all the while, Mary, a mother of eight, told me about her life as a farmer in Lietnhom.
In any South Sudanese household, farming is a shared role. Yet, many would argue that women do the large majority of the work (possibly even all of it). Given their busy daily schedule (including random visits from friends/relatives, breastfeeding/caring for an infant, religious activities, etc.), women work to complete household chores and farming as efficiently as possible.
This is especially true during the season of cultivation. Once the first few consistent rains have watered the dehydrated land, it is time to cultivate and plant every seed available (some may have been eaten in place of food during the hunger season – a last resort when all other resources have been depleted).
Despite being a fairly experienced farmer herself, she has often been unable to harvest enough crops to feed all eight of her children. As soon as Mary heard about the opportunity to learn how to farm during the dry season, she couldn’t imagine passing up the opportunity. She was one of the first to commit to joining the World Concern gardening group in Lietnhom, and is now one of the group leaders.
Mary works with other local farmers to make sure that the shared garden is watered twice a day and the crops are properly cared for. From what she has learned from World Concern, Mary now teaches those in her community about cleaning crops and making healthy manure.
The Lietnhom garden is one of the only successful dry season gardens in the surrounding area. The farmers involved have even harvested enough crops to take some home and sell those that remain in the local market. That’s sustainable transformation!
Still smiling, Mary told me, “I have learned many things from World Concern. I am very happy with you. I think my children will be very well now that I work here.”
Thank you for being a part of this life-changing work!
Mary shows the fruit of her labor - vegetables!