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ACTION AGAINST HUNGER: How dumped sacks changed my life: A moving story of Jomila Muhelela

Action Against Hunger / Tanzania
Agriculture officer training group of women on Sack garden preparation

Jomila Mhelela is a mother of five children who lives in the Mpwapwa district, Dodoma Region. Previously, Jomila used to sell ice cream as an income generating activity to support her family. However, she is now a model farmer thanks to the project that changed her fortunes.

In 2021, one of her children was diagnosed with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and they were both admitted to the therapeutic Feeding Unit at Mpwapwa Hospital. Later, Jomila was linked to a vegetable production program supported by Action Against Hunger.

“My family’s income was not enough for our five children, so I decided to sell ice cream at a nearby school to support my husband. But I was not getting enough money,” said Jomila Mhelela. 

While in the hospital, Jomila learned about different types of food that could help prevent malnutrition in her children. She also learned some of these foods can be easily obtained through a vegetable garden at home. Through an integrated intervention by Action Against Hunger, Jomila was linked to an agricultural extension officer who gave her options of vegetable production, including seed bed vegetable production, keywhole garden, tile garden, and sack garden. She chose the sack garden as her best option.

“It was simple for me to opt for the sack garden because I used to see many sacks around the village. So, I felt this model will improve our environment as well,” explained Ms. Mhelela.

Jomila collected 164 sacks and was trained on how to prepare a sack garden. Initially, her neighbors mocked her for collecting dirty sacks from a dump site, but Jomila was determined to save her children from malnutrition without any distractions.

Through her determination and effort, Jomila was able to attract more people to join the sack garden approach. Her income rose from 1200TZS (from her ice cream business) to 35,000 by selling vegetables. Jomila decided to use her garden as a learning platform for other people who wanted to try vegetable gardening. The first session was attended by 43 people, and the number kept rising every month.

“I am happy now that I can sell vegetables and support my family with nutritious food. I don’t want to see another child experience malnutrition again,” added Jomila Mhelela.

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Action Against Hunger

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