As kids all over trudge back to school (and parents gleefully send them off), I’m spending the next few days supporting school projects I love. Today’s program is in Imo State, Nigeria, training 2,000 girls in agricultural skills, animal husbandry (that’s where the piglets come in!), environmental management, and entrepreneurship so they can become independent and financially secure small farmers.
The program is run by Smallholders Foundation, an incredible organization founded by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, whom I wrote about on March 3 (see post). The education of girls is always a huge benefit to a society, but this program really speaks to me because it’s so practical and smart. Girls will be selected from 5 schools to learn how to garden, raise animals, and market their wares so they’ll be prepared to set up micro-gardens at home that can provide them with employment, income and self-sufficiency to last a lifetime. In Nigeria, with sky-high unemployment and 90% of the population living on less than $2/day, the agricultural skills that Nnaemeka is imparting represent a lifeline of hope.
With a student garden in each school, along with fish farms and livestock pens, this isn’t book learning about agriculture – it’s hands-on, immediate and practical– just like all the skills that Smallholders Foundation imparts.
Founded in 2003 by the remarkable Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (an Ashoka Fellow, Unreasonable Institute Fellow and Rolex Young Laureate), Smallholders Foundation is focused on supporting small farmers who struggle to survive. It began with a community-owned radio system that disseminates knowledge on best practices in agriculture to 250,000 farmers in south-east Nigeria. By sharing planting tips, pest control methods, market reports, environmental protection, and community farming news, Smallholders Radio empowers its listeners to improve their farming methods, gives them a voice, and connects them with fast access to markets. Now, it’s preparing the way for the next generation in these 2,000 girls who will soon become wives, mothers– and smart, capable, empowered farmers themselves. And think how much 2,000 girls can grow in a lifetime!
Smallholders Foundation needs to raise $4,000 from 50 donors by September 30 to stay on the Global Giving website, and if you give as little as $10, you’ll be helping to make a big difference. $20 will buy 10 shovels for the girls to dig plant beds – $40 will buy 2 chickens, and my $100 will buy 4 piglets. What a feeling!!
To join me in planting a seed for a better future for these girls, click here!