Earth Day Every Day
Earth Day reminds us to appreciate the Earth and rethink ways to reuse, reduce, and recycle. For some of our grantee partners in Africa, Earth Day is a way of life. Something done each day to support the growth and development of not only sustainable farming techniques, but also to find healthful access to food, education, and shelter. To celebrate Earth Day, here are three stories of Firelight grantee partners from Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Lake Nyanza Environmental & Sanitation Organization (LANESO) is an environmental conservation organization. Since 1994, they have been building relationships with fisher boys living on Jumaa Island in Lake Victoria in Zimbabwe. This group of boys is highly marginalized from the rest of the community and LANESO has steadily worked to improve their quality of life. They provide training on sustainable fishing techniques and regulation nets (environmentally-appropriate fishing nets) to improve the boy's personal livelihood and the Lake environment.
As the profitability of fishing has declined, LANESO is directing boys to the quickly growing tailoring industry. Their relationships have created the means to discuss other issues like HIV and AIDS, helping this group to reduce their risk of HIV infection. The demand for labor and income makes the time for education difficult, but LANESO is also able to encourage school attendance and teaches financial skills to help create sustainable financial practices and future opportunities.
As the HIV and AIDS epidemic spread in Lesotho, communities lost a large number of agricultural laborers. Food production declined and many children and adults needed new food sources. A group of women farmers from the isolated, mountainous area of Ha Mpiti, initiated Mohoma Temeng. They wanted to unite female farmers, children, and educators to promote food security, respect for the land, and community well-being. They began by teaching children indigenous methods of sustainable food production.
That was 1994 and Mohoma Temeng is now a strong community-based organization that provides food to the community inexpensively and sustainably. By providing a flock of chickens for egg production, three cows and a bull to provide milk, and tools and seeds to expand the community garden, children are fed well and have income for their health and education expenses. They now foster the young people’s leadership by teaching students record-keeping, accounting, and marketing skills.
In 2003, twenty women decided to do something to help child-headed families in Gwanda in southwestern Zimbabwe. They quickly organized themselves through their church to help children provide for their siblings and receive care themselves. Ingalo Zomusa Orphan Care was born and shortly after a communal garden was created to help them sustain the organization. Using sustainable farming techniques and teaching children to raise their own food and create products to sell from the garden, they taught children to connect to the earth in ways that led to long-term independence.
Children generate income by tailoring, knitting, making freezits (popsicles), peanut butter grinding, candles, and soap. After some success and local funding, they expanded further, constructing two chicken runs. They now raise, package, and sell 400 chickens. This communal garden brings the community together and youth participate in a range of education, behavior changing, and community building activities.
The presence of communal gardens, sustainable farming techniques, and farming collectives help communities to care for their children and themselves. As awareness of the need to improve our treatment of the earth and its resources improves, it’s communities and local actions like these that make a difference each day.