Years of drought in Ethiopia meant that Mechu Dayo, 40, used to struggle to feed her children. But today, thanks to training in growing vegetables, her family has enough to eat. She tells us her remarkable story.
I got married when I was 15, as a second wife to my husband. He split his time between his two homes.
For many years I had no job other than giving birth. I had child after child with no gap. My first born children are 18-year-old twins: a girl and a boy. My oldest daughter is deaf.
I do not regret being a second wife to my husband. In fact, his first wife had approached my parents for her husband’s marriage. After we got married, she bought me a new dress that I would wear for the market. She has taken care of me like a mother does. My children spend time at her place and hers at mine. The children love and support each other.
Not enough food
My husband is a farmer and he does daily labour work to support us. But the money he earned was not enough to feed his families.
Drought has been so severe, and in the old days I didn’t have enough flour to bake to feed my children. I had to prepare a very thin porridge just for them to feel something in their stomach and survive the day.
My father had taught me cattle herding. But the project taught me how to grow and make use of vegetables. I received training, and then I started to grow carrots, cabbage and chillies in my back yard.
Previously when I went to the market and saw cabbage, I would want to buy for my kids, but I couldn’t afford it. Now I am able to grow it and then feed my children. I am also making money out of it. Feeding my children and having plenty left to sell at the market is a big change for me.
I sold so much of my produce I could buy a goat, which gave birth to three kids. The goats will help me even if the drought hits again.
I don’t think I will face major problems again. People used to make fun of me when I spent too much time in the garden. But now they saw the result and are appreciative.
From now on, I will make sure I have vegetables in my backyard all the time. Today I can feed my children as many times as they like.
A round of applause
The project has helped me reach this stage from nothing, with training and support. I am very happy. If I had money I would send your supporters a gift, but for now I am sending my big round of applause.
Mechu’s family is one of 170 families that benefited from training in vegetable production from our partner Agri Service Ethiopia and Apostlic Vicariate of Hossana. The project is also supported by DFID, SCIAF and Trocaire.