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.
Video: Views of land in Central Pokot
Central Pokot in West Pokot County in Kenya is a canvas on which nature, the trees, the hills and the streams stand majestic and unbothered.
Image: Woman and child walking with bucket on head
It is hard to believe that this county is one of Kenya’s arid
Image: Woman sitting
And semi-arid lands when looking at this greenery.
Video: Point of view riding on path full of green trees and grass
Video: Water flowing through stream
The people in the villages have lived
Video: View of huts in villages
with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic
Video: Goats walking down path
and the devastating effects of climate change.
On a closer look, one can see the aftermath of a series of landslides that carried people and their livelihoods with it.
Video: View of mountains and post landslides
Josephine Chepchumba is one of those whose lived changed
Video: Josephine sitting in plant field
as she rebuilt her life after the devastating effects of the landslide and the pandemic.
Video: Group of women dancing
Mother and wife in Chemakagha village, Josephine believes in the power of togetherness in tackling some of the challenges they face.
Video: Josephine talking and sitting in plant field
Video: Group of women walking, singing and dancing together
So she’s a member of a mother-to-mother support group. As the name suggests, it is a group of women who meet regularly to support one another in motherhood and running their households.
Video: Group of women in a circle clapping and dancing
The Chemakagha mother-to-mother support group has 25 members who decided to unite just before the pandemic.
Video: Group of women walking and singing together
Video: Josephine speaking in her language
Text: Josephine Chepchumba – Chemakagha Support Group
Text: The group aims to chase hunger out of the home
Text: so that children do not have malnourished bodies.
Video: View of mugs and women in the background singing and dancing
Today, one of the achievements and benefits of joining this group is the vegetable garden.
Video: Person digging up dirt
Video: Woman water plants with hose
They have planted various crops, such as watermelons.
Video: View of watermelon
Video: Person holding crops
Action Against Hunger has supported the creation and running of five mother-to-mother support groups with 125 women. Therefore, it is safe to assume these are 125 households.
Image: Action Against Hunger logo
Text: 5 Mother to mother support groups 125 women
Image: Action Against Hunger logo
Text: copyright 2021