My name is Yacuba. I live with my family in a small village called Toundoun Mori, near the town of Tibiri. For years my people have suffered from insufficient food supply. Whenever the rains stopped, we would get very nervous and worried because we didn’t know how we would find food for the long months without rain. Because of poverty we are unable to afford healthcare or our children’s education. Even when we put forth our best efforts, the rains would let us down. Our ability to produce food has always been limited by rapidly changing climatic conditions and limited forming knowledge and tools. Life has always been tough here in Tibiri. To survive, many of us have to make the long journey across the border to Nigeria where in search of casual labor. Sometimes we are able to get work, other times it is more difficult and we return home empty-handed after months away from our families. Some of those that left from my village on this dangerous exodus fell prey to bandits and never made it back. As parents, we were always concerned about the future of our children. Would they be condemned to this type of existence?
Two years ago, we had the visit of some people who said they worked for an organization called ADRA. We had never heard of such an organization before. They told us that they could help us produce more food, and different types of food so that our children can grow strong and healthy and also so that we do not suffer from so many diseases or go hungry during the dry season. It all sounded too good to be true, and I have to admit, I didn’t buy into it right away. What they explained to us was that we had to put in our time, effort, physical strength and follow the various farming and gardening techniques they were to teach us. We also had to dig up some wells. They would then provide us with tools, fertilizers, seeds, and water pumps to ensure that our plants have a sufficient water supply.
Though I was skeptical, their regular visits enabled us to develop a bond of friendship. I started looking forward to their visits as we would exchange information and talk about the progress of the plants. As little plants grew out of the ground I began to see the difference. This was amazing! I was now producing fruits and vegetables that I had only heard about before. What was even more exciting for my family was that we were now producing six different types of foods and we were doing all this in the dry season!
After the first harvest we were eager to taste these new foods. I have to admit that at first, they didn’t taste all that great to me. My children on the other hand enjoyed the taste of these foods. Today in my home there’s not a day when we do not eat fruits and vegetables from our garden.
Although all this is great, the true source of my joy and pride concerning this garden is that now, two years after the visit of my ADRA friends, I’m able to feed my entire extended family. None of my relatives have to go hungry. You have to understand that in our traditions, the well-being of the whole family is the responsibility of each individual member. In addition to this, I have a surplus of food that I am able to sell in the market. I sell on average 250 USD of vegetables in the local market every week. Though some weeks are better than others, I now have income that I can put to use when my children or my wife are sick. I can also maintain my pump and purchase fuel to run it and keep producing more. I’m free from ever having to borrow money, beg for food, or travel on the treacherous journey to Nigeria! And I cannot begin to express how much this project has changed my life.
I’d like to thank ADRA Niger and the Canadian people for going out of their way to show solidarity with my village and the people of Tibiri. Your help has made it possible for my children to grow up healthy and for our entire village to come out of the horrible situation of having to beg for food, selling our livestock at throw away prices, or accumulating debts in times of drought.