Driving into Longido, it’s hard to imagine how someone can make a life here. The dry dusty roads give way to dirt fields baked hard by a fierce sun. Withered corn stalks the colour of dust stand like sentinels keeping watch for the long awaited rains, their shrivelled fruit hanging limply at their sides. Such was the scene that greeted us as we returned in April to Longido to follow up with a group of women we had trained last year. Little did we know that in this barren place, miniature oases were springing up all around.
Mama Danii is a 48-year-old mother of three and grandmother of seven. She attended a GSC training last year to learn about bio-intensive agriculture and water harvesting. As we approached her home, she greeted us warmly with a proud ‘I’ve got something to show you’ smile and led us round the back. Three well crafted vegetable beds sat to one side of the house, their bright green produce standing in stark contrast with the surrounding brown landscape. Next to the house, tucked under the edge of the tin roof sat Mama Danii’s hafir, still half full of water after a long dry season. Mama Danii explained how these two simple technologies – double dug beds, and a rain fed hafir had revolutionised her life. “During the dry season, I used to have to purchase water for 2000 tsh per bucket, which wasn’t even enough to do the house chores, so I never had any water for a vegetable garden; but now with my hafir, I have water available for free, even during the dry season.”
Mama Danii has also proven to be something of an entrepreneur. Her skills in growing vegetables and her ability to access water during the dry season allowed her to open up a small vegetable stall. “I was selling my vegetables at higher prices because they are organically grown. My customers prefer my produce to vegetables they can get elsewhere as they are good quality and have a better taste.” Although her total turnover may be reasonably modest, Mama Danii was pleased that she could buy things she needed, such as kerosene and cooking oil, as well exercise books for her children. She has now decided to plant larger gardens using the double dig system of raised beds. She is also beginning to plant fruit trees and ‘spinach trees’ (Moringa and Cassava trees) which will produce green leafy vegetables throughout the year.
Mama Danii is one of many grateful villagers in Longido. “I want to thank GSC very much for their help, and may God allow the organisation to continue helping the poor”.
Impact Story by Brown Mamuya and Mike Allard, Global Service Corps-Tanzania Staff
To learn more about Global Service Corps service-learning programs in Tanzania, please visit our website here.