Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Flood Mamas

Recently, a group of mothers, locally known as mamas, gathered at our school.  Together with our school head master David, they started a small farm group to see if they too could create Flood Gardens near their homes. David talked to them about how to start their own little farming project and distributed seeds from the MDFT Flood Garden. These mamas are mostly AIDS widows or abandoned single mothers.
Flood Mamas' Farm plots before they planted

The mamas chose a leader among themselves and began to clear out a vacant common garbage lot.  Each mama now has a small plot in which to farm and most of them do their farm work in the morning so that they can take their harvested vegetables to the market for the day.

First mchicha crop
We now have a group of 18 mamas that have joined our Flood Mamas' group. They are an amazing group of young women that have now found a way to supplement their meager income by farming in a Flood Farm.  We would like to share their story.
Mama Ali selling her first harvest

Mama Ali (the mother of Ali, her eldest son) is the Flood Mama group leader.   She is a single parent of 4 young children.  2 of the children belong to her sister who pasted away from AIDS two years ago.  Until now, she has really struggled to feed the children in her care because she had no source of constant income. She and her children were abandoned by her husband.

Mama Ali now has a farm plot where she plants mostly mchicha, TZ spinach (amaranth) and a few other local vegetables. To date, with each weekly harvest, she is averaging about $22 per week.  This might be a small some to some but in her world this amount of money brings incredible improvement to her life.  Here is a short list of some of the things she can now afford:

  • She is now able to rent a small but clean room for her young family -- $5 per month 
  • She can buy up to 10Kg of maize flour every week -- $6 per week
  • She can buy salt --$1
  • She now has a bit of money to save and use for the children
Ugali and mchicha stew

Maize, water and salt are the ingredients used to make ugali, the traditional TZ staple.  Ugali usually served hot and works as a balanced side dish to a rich meat sauce but most people like Mama Ali can only afford to server the ugali alone. Many children live by eating only 1 or 2 small lumps of ugali per day.
Flood Mama working in her plot

Now, however, Mama Ali can afford to make ugali as a side to a more nutritious vegetable stew made with the products of her very own farm plot. With a bit of luck and hard work, Mama Ali and the Flood Mamas will be able to afford to make vegetable stew with beef broth and add needed proteins to their diets.

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