One midnight, eight years ago, five-year-old Hamman Ahmadu and his family narrowly escaped with their lives from their home in Nigeria’s Borno state.
Fleeing from growing instability and terrorism in their home of Gwoza, the family resettled 200 miles away in Fufore, in Nigeria’s Adamawa state. As Hamman, now 13, and his family settled into their new village’s rhythms, he noticed women in their host community tending gardens outside their homes. “As the first son, the responsibility of my family rests on my shoulder. If I don’t take care of myself and them, nobody will.”
As the first son, the responsibility of my family rests on my shoulder. If I don’t take care of myself and them, nobody will.Hamman Ahmadu
These women “had enough to eat and made money; I also wanted the same for my family,” Hamman explains.
Home garden promotes independence
Hamman realized that new skills were making things easier for displaced families like his. He knew he could make things easier for his family too. With Helen Keller Intl, and support from the Latter-Day Saint Charities, Hamman learned about nutritious foods, and received farming tools that would help him grow those foods at home. His story is unique since most of the farmers Helen Keller supports are women.
Hamman’s interest in gardening to support his family and build food security led him to Rebecca Clement, a farming expert. With guidance from Rebecca and her colleagues, Hamman learned the basics of home gardening – how to prepare and fortify the soil, plant seeds, and nourish them before and after they sprouted. Rebecca and her team observed Hamman’s confidence growing alongside his gardening abilities.
After mastering their gardening skills, Hamman and others in the community received seeds and gardening essentials, such as hoes, rakes, and watering cans to help cultivate their own gardens.
New crops, new opportunities
Filled with inspiration and determination, Hamman happily tilled the soil behind his family’s tent before planting seeds and growing a substantial vegetable garden. At harvest time, he gathered plump, nutrient-rich vegetables.
By helping families grow their own food, Helen Keller not only ensures nutrient-rich foods at the table, but creates opportunities for supplemental income from selling surplus vegetables at local markets. Building financial stability is even more critical today, as inflation rises globally – to double digits in Nigeria – families struggle more and more to make ends meet.
Hamman used the earnings from his produce sales to enroll himself in government secondary school in Daware. He also bought a new pair of shoes, a school uniform, and writing materials. After covering his school expenses, he still had money left, which he gave to his mother.
‘Grateful for the seeds’
Today, Hamman is preparing his next crops. He looks forward to the harvest and again sharing the bounty with his family.
I am grateful for the seeds provided by Helen Keller Intl that allowed me to establish my vegetable garden and enable me to fend for some of my needs and that of my family members.Hamman Ahmadu