It was so moving to hear how much difference we’ve made to the lives of struggling families and to see the smiles on the faces of the children. This is Simone's story.
Story told by Vashti Seth
In July I travelled to Jirapa in Ghana and had the privilege of visiting the homes of some of Deki’s entrepreneurs. What struck me as we drove along the road is that some of the crops looked yellow and limp, but on the plot next door the plants look green, tall and strong.
When we arrived at a tiny hamlet of mud huts we were greeted by Simone who is the training officer from IDE Ghana. I asked Simone why there was such a big difference in the health of the crops.
He said that when he first arrived in the area all the crops were failing and the people were going from crisis to crisis, especially in the dry season where they would often have no food or money.
The children would have so little to eat that they had become extremely malnourished and there was a distressingly high mortality rate.
Simone, who is trained in small scale farming techniques went to the nearby village of Karni where he told the village chief that it didn’t have to be this way. He explained that it was possible to grow vegetables in the dry season and that his villagers could progress out of their 'feast or famine' existence.
The village chief agreed to support Simone in training the villagers on how to better cultivate their crops. With funding from IDE Simone taught them how to plant and grow dry season produce like tomatoes, onions and cabbages.
Simone knew that the only way the farmers would be able to get a decent yield from such very poor soil was to use a minimal amount of fertiliser and pest control. He also realised that many of the villagers were illiterate and that they had very few resources. He didn’t want to promote the over-use of chemicals so he showed them how to employ bottle tops to measure tiny amounts of fertiliser. He also taught them, wherever he could, how to use natural methods to promote soil fertility and reduce the use of chemicals, including the use of leaves from the Neem tree as a natural pesticide.
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In addition to the farming methods Simone taught them how to run a business, including how to record what they’ve spent and how they should manage any profit they make by reinvesting in the farm and saving for the future.
The difference in the crops was amazing. Villagers now had food all through the year for themselves and had a surplus to sell. This meant they could afford to buy a health card, school uniforms and pay for labour on their smallholdings meaning they could farm much bigger areas of land which further increased their yield.
Karni is just one of the many small villages along the dirt road that leads to Burkina Faso. When the farmers from the neighbouring village of Boo saw the improvements they wanted the training too. Simone wanted to help but without the capital required to invest in the seeds and fertiliser he knew they would struggle to get the same results.
He realised that microfinance would enable the farmers to borrow small start-up loans and get their business off the ground. It was at this time that Deki discovered the great work of IDE and contacted them to see if they could work in partnership, whereby IDE trains the farmers and Deki funds the loans. This would mean that Simone could extend his work to Boo and the other villages in the area. Deki then formed a three-way partnership with IDE and St Joseph’s Credit union. We’ve now supported hundreds of subsistence farmers in the area.
It was so moving to hear how much difference we’ve made to the lives of struggling families and to see the smiles on the faces of the children who are now going to school with full tummies. It really feels like the poverty cycle has been broken and that the future is bright for the next generation.
for Taking Pictures, Changing Lives C.I.C. www.tpcl.co
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