'I grow vegetables so my children can go to school'

Thursday 30 January 2014

Martha, 37, lives in Pagak, Upper Nile state. She has six children – four daughters and two sons – aged between 15 years and 18 months old. Like many other people in the area Martha often struggles to feed her family as floods followed by drought mean that it is hard to grow sufficient crops.

Martha, a member of a community farming group supported by Save the Children, outside her home in Pagak, Upper Nile state with her youngest child, 18-month-old Nyamalakal. (Colin Crowley/Save the Children)

Martha had been supporting her family by collecting and selling firewood and water, but this only earns her a small amount of money. When there is no food in the local market she will collect wild fruits and leaves to give to her children, or will walk for two days across the border to Ethiopia to try and buy whatever food she can afford there.

Martha said, “My children are always falling sick because there is not enough food here. Very often my children do not have anything to eat all day and then they become weak, and cannot go to school or play with other children.

Last year Martha joined a farmer’s group set up by Save the Children in Pagak. There are 200 women in her group who have been given agricultural training by Save the Children on demonstration farms, as well as seeds and tools to help them increase the amount of food they are able to grow so that they can feed their families.

“I joined this farmers’ group run by Save the Children last year. This is a great idea and is helping us a lot. We are taught how to work for ourselves and how to prepare the land, plant the seeds and take care of the crops on this piece of land. I never knew how to do this properly before and we used to do it the wrong way so we never grew many vegetables.

“I am still learning but after this harvest I will try and take the knowledge and grow more crops next year.

“We grow beans, tomatoes, okra, kale and cabbage. I will start to harvest the first crop in two weeks but other vegetables won’t be ready for a few more weeks, giving me a supply over several months. Once I harvest the vegetables I will use some to feed my children and will sell some in the market to buy other foods such as maize.

“If I can earn some money selling my vegetables I will send my children to school again. This is why I am working hard on the farm so I can grow enough vegetables so my children can go back to school.”