Today’s pandemic made the GFF HELPS Philippine Team realize the importance of mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health and most of our projects are bringing great impact to our beneficiaries, especially this Vegetable Garden Project in the different villages in the town of Banga, Aklan.
Many beneficiaries have given opportunities to grow different kinds of vegetables in their own backyards and that helps sustain their daily meals. The children never missed to contribute in taking care of the plants, it made them more responsible to take care their respective garden plot like daily weeding, watering, applying fertilizers, harvesting, and many more. They also managed to eat whatever harvest they have, they also shared some for their neighbors, and even sold to the local markets whatever excess produce they have.
During this month of April, we have continued the distribution for our Phase 2, and we did distribute seed packs, garden tools, vegetable workbooks and handbooks, and many more to another ten beneficiaries who are the dropped-out youths and poor families, in addition to the previous ten who are the previous beneficiaries of the Phase 1. These dropped out youths and poor families were very glad upon receiving their seed packs along with other materials needed for effective planting.
As we deliver the seed packs and other materials to the houses of each beneficiaires, we heard different stories of survival in this trying times. One of the beneficiaries is Matit, 23 years old who has a new born child. She moved in to her husband’s home after marriage and does various responsibilities to comply her role as a wife, a mother and as a student. She said: “Since I am breastfeeding my daughter, it is important to have daily intake of nutritious food and these vegetables would be very helpful to make my daughter as well as my family healthy.”
Another story came from Jose, a farmer and a father of six whose house is located few kilometers away from the main road of Mangan Village, which made their home isolated and uneasy to find. They are tenants and they have abundant rice fields which would be able for them to plant the seeds wherever it suits. As we went to visit their house to distribute the seed packs, we passed by a swamp, abundant bamboos, tall trees and grasses, with cows and carabaos tied in the tree branches; we witnessed his children manually separating the rice grain from the rice stem stock. Using their feet, they thresh the rice grain out of the stock since thresher machines are not available. They then winnow and used mortar and pestle to thoroughly separate the rice grain from its bran, getting kilos of rice as a product. It was a hard and literally itchy process but this family has been doing this ever since. This family is quite skilled farmers and they were very happy as they received seeds for the GFF. The head of the family said, “We will plant and grow these seeds into healthy ones, as I also have other vegetables planted in the backyard, these would add to my list and this would be a big help for my big family.”