It’s amazing how tiny tree seedlings can make such a difference in a person’s life and community.
Little trees changed the life of Marcelline Maniema in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She used to be hungry all the time—as was her husband and eight children.
But when Food for the Hungry (FH) started working in her community in August 2012, she was one of the first to join FH’s food for work program. The program paid Marcelline and other community members in food to raise tree seedlings to be used in her community for food and reforestation.
At that time, the land in her village was grassland and not farmed due to flooding caused by the Rugumba river. Each rainy season, the river destroyed harvests and homes. It was the main cause of food insecurity in Marcelline’s community. People were going without eating. Malnutrition was prevalent among children.
Reforesting the Community
FH started an agriculture station to help Marcelline and her community. Families came to work at the agriculture station, helping with the daily chores of raising tree seedlings. They also helped produce cuttings of crops, like sweet potato, and multiplied seeds for distribution.
As Marcelline and others worked, they learned agriculture practices to increase crop yields. Marcelline learned to plant in rows, weed and grow different types of trees to nourish the soil, like banana trees.
In addition, she and others like her received tree seedlings that they planted to reforest their community.
Becoming Successful Farmers
Marcelline’s husband got involved, too. He is learning to be a farmer like Marcelline. Both are receiving payment in food for their work at the agriculture station, and she now has enough food on the table each day for all of her children.
Marcelline is also a volunteer mother leader in her community’s care group. In the care group, she learns about hygiene and other important health practices. Now, she’s sharing her knowledge with other mothers in her community to keep all children healthy and thriving.
This is just the beginning for this community. As the trees grow and produce fruits and cash crops, the community members will learn to market crops and earn income.
Written by FH/DR Congo staff Etienne Balemba and translated by Esther Wong.