Tearfund’s local partner in Mali, JEM, bought a hectare of land in a community where poverty was rife. They split the land into 100 plots, then worked with the local church and the village chief to allocate them to women in need. The results were astounding: families not only overcame hunger, but they were able to earn an income too.
Yakene* felt trapped at home before she was given a plot of land. Opportunities for women to earn a living and support their families were rare in her village.
‘I didn't do anything before: I stayed at home and did nothing but cleaning,’ Yakene shares. ‘I couldn't even buy a pair of shoes for my children, and they didn't eat well.’
A great blessing
Families weren’t just given land, but training was on hand too. Yakene and other women were taught how to farm in a way that would care for their plot for years to come. They were also taught farming techniques that would help them be more resilient to changing weather patterns – particularly long droughts – caused by the climate crisis.
‘This garden is a great blessing for the whole village and for my family and me in particular,’ says Yakene.
‘With the vegetables that I produce on my plot, my situation has improved a lot: I earn some income from the sale of vegetables, which allows me to live better and to buy clothes for the children… I am happy.’
‘Community gardens like this are a great response to how we can tackle poverty as it offers a way for families to become financially independent and change their futures,’ shares Kossi Agbo, who oversees Tearfund’s work in west Africa.
‘It also shows the importance of including women. In Mali, men are the main breadwinners, and women often stay at home to raise children and look after the home. It can be incredibly lonely.
‘This community garden shows how women can play a vital role in lifting their families out of poverty when they are empowered to do so. By giving women like Yakene this opportunity and equipping them with what they need, they are able to reach their God-given potential.’
This garden has turned life around for Yakene's village. And it doesn’t stop there.
Faith for the future
Yakene is working with JEM and her church on ideas to improve water access for the different plots. They are currently exploring how they can install a borehole, which will allow them to draw water from the ground with a solar-powered pump. This will make farming much more efficient for them.
‘Now the people in the village are happier: the children are doing well, we are eating better and we are reassured. We hope that the future will be even better, especially when access to water in the garden will be easier and more abundant,’ shares Yakene.
This opportunity has reinforced to Yakene the love that God has for her and her community.
‘When a person comes to help you in the name of God, it is because that person knows God and has compassion for others,’ Yakene says. ‘God himself is compassionate and he is good. We see these characteristics of God with the action of JEM.’