Planting in Liberia
Seed is not a hand-out, and vegetables don’t appear by magic. The journey from seed to harvest — soil preparation, sowing, weeding, picking, and transportation — requires a significant investment from farmers. That’s a lot of time, sweat, and energy.
Just as seed is not a hand-out, the support SPI provides to our partners is not a hand-out; it’s an investment. With your help, we invest in leaders on the ground who put their communities first, cultivate mutually beneficial relationships, and put resources in the hands of those who need them most (often the same people that can do the most with them). In other words, they do the hard work of building resiliency.
The SPI Liberia Partnership Network exemplifies this type of investment. The network began with a stakeholder meeting in May 2016. During the lead-up to that meeting, we consulted with a partner on the ground who identified local connections that could contribute to, and benefit from, the network. She took the lead, inviting partners and organizing the entire event, including transportation arrangements. During the meeting itself, partners coordinated how they would educate and support each other, share resources, and build a framework that would ensure that the work of rebuilding their communities would last well beyond SPI’s involvement.
Now that the network is established, we are seeing clear progress. So far, network partners have conducted over 2,000 extension visits, 360 instructional school days, and 75 group trainings. Many of the partners in the network did not know about each other before the stakeholder meeting. Now, they’re sharing a pool of agricultural expertise from within the network. Because of their hard work and conscious collaboration, SPI’s investment of seeds and training has reached more people, families, and communities than we would have been able to reach on our own. We’re confident that this work will last beyond our involvement because the programs were made for the network, by the network.
The support that our network partners provide for Ebola survivors is crucial for their recovery and livelihoods. Many survivors are ostracized without the skills or resources they need to feed themselves or make a living. The agricultural training provided by SPI partners not only offers survivors a pathway to recovery, but creates a space for psychosocial support that assists their healing. For instance, similar to the knowledge sharing of network partners, survivors began teaching each other basic life skills they had learned before they were affected by Ebola. While the SPI Liberia Partnership Network is rebuilding the agricultural infrastructure, farmers are finding strength in one another to rebuild their social structures.
Our partners and their farmers are working together to share resources and disburse support in ways that ensure the resiliency of their communities. We are excited to be part of their work and we could not have supported them without you!