Grow East Africa is a Seed Programs International partner working with about 1,000 families at a crossroads for Kenyan – Ethiopian IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). Co-Founder Yohannes Chonde understands the families’ journey, the experience of displacement, and what they need to be successful because many of the families come from his ancestral home, Burji District.
We recently heard from Wato Seif, a Grow East Africa Officer, who shared what it was like to be displaced:
“Not many years have passed since we became internally displaced, leaving our homes and properties, and escaping with just the shirts on our backs and the few belongings we were able to carry. Upon arrival, we found ourselves in the midst of a different culture, a foreign language, and hardships from lack of shelter and ownership of land necessary for an agrarian society.”
Wato continues, talking about his work with Grow East Africa and plans for the future:
“Thanks to the local communities, Soyama Ladies Association, Burji District management, and assistance from our local son Dr. Yohannes Chonde and SPI, we are starting to turn our lives on the path of recovery. With the newly installed solar energy powered drip irrigation system, we are set to plant vegetable year round. We have harvested abundant yields of quinoa and teff. The vegetables (tomatoes, cabbage, chard, carrots, and onions) are growing well and show promise for a good yield. The abundant harvest will be able to feed our children and enable them to attend school. The excess produce will be sold on the local market, and the income will be reinvested into the project to further our efforts in self-sufficiency. We tirelessly strive to contribute to the wellbeing of our new community by introducing nutritional vegetables and quinoa to the diet of the residents, especially for the children and pregnant women. This where we want to be, a place and situation where we can build a future that is sustainable.”
It might be easy to underestimate what gardens can mean for someone who has been displaced. Fate is a farmer with Grow East Africa who has stepped into leadership through her participation in Grow East Africa’s garden project. She shares, beautifully:
“Just a few years ago, we were a community that was worried about what we would eat tomorrow and what the future looks like. … Today, not only are we growing our own food, but we’re making plans for the future of our people and our community. … Thank you for choosing to invest in our community and in our well-being.”
Gardens are providing Grow Eat Africa farmers with new livelihoods, a crucial component for long-term resilience against upheaval and crisis. By offering agricultural training, water access, and extension support, Grow East Africa ensures that farmers and farmer trainers will have the skills and tools they need to facilitate the wellbeing of the whole community for generations to come.