Part of poverty is hunger. If someone is hungry, malnourished, or sick due to lack of nutrition they will not be able to work, study, take care of their family, etc. at the level necessary to overcome extreme poverty.
Lack of food variety causes malnutrition and stunted growth. Malnutrition hinders a child’s educational experience and limits the productivity and the earning potential of adults.
To address this and to eliminate hunger, malnutrition and stunted growth, we have a program that focuses on family gardens.
We start with our unique, small-scale agriculture model. This will provide a means of full nutrition, which supports and sustains healthy life. CHOICE Humanitarian has a simple goal – to teach families, communities, and villages how to thrive on their own. After they have been taught the skills necessary, they can duplicate those skills and pay forward* the method. Our model eliminates dependence by helping families reach the goal of true self-reliance that is sustainable.
Family gardens are relatively small plots with more variety than in most large commercial farms. These gardens can supply important foods and nutrients for families. They also can provide spices, medicines, fodder, fuel, construction materials and income for families. Gardens vary in their size, composition, and uses according to cultural values, climate and water availability. Our gardening methods use less water, which is critical, as many places do not have the water needed for the normal plot. These gardens take less space, yet will provide year-round abundance for the table. Self-reliance comes first when you have the ability to feed yourself.
These gardens help preserve plant varieties that were once widely grown and eaten, which helps maintain genetic diversity in plants. Farmers often grow plants with little or no world market value, but that are important for their nutrition, local food culture, or religious significance.
CHOICE plays an important role in helping village families start their own gardens. Families learn what foods they can grow to improve their families’ nutrition and health. This contribution is especially important for the extremely poor. We provide skills training and seeds to grow vegetables and fruits chosen by the family. Our skilled in-country staff knows the nutrient deficiencies common in their region, and they work to ensure that family gardens include the fruits and vegetables families need for a healthy, complete diet.
Better nutrition improves health. When people are healthy, they are more productive in many ways. Healthy children miss fewer school days, and they actually learn better when they attend school regularly. Adults who are healthy can work longer and harder, which can impact their income. Equipped with enthusiasm and additional funds, communities begin to envision and execute community development programs, such as acquiring clean water, building schools, improving sanitation, constructing medical facilities, and more. Success leads to more success. Thus, family gardens are one of many approaches CHOICE uses to help eliminate extreme poverty.
We also teach nutrition and hygiene to make sure that families know the reason behind eating well and taking care of their bodies. Simple acts like teaching children to brush their teeth, or helping parents understand the importance of washing their hands provide a sustainable impact on families and communities because the participants understand the why behind what they are taught to do.
We have a Pay it Forward program where CHOICE gives the seeds/starts to begin their garden and instead of paying CHOICE back they Pay It Forward by giving seeds/starts to another community member to begin their own garden.