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A Single Mother's Success Story

Abandoned and left to starve, Nigist learned how to lift herself out of poverty

When Nigist Mekonen’s husband abandoned her, she thought her life was over.

The mother of four young children was struggling to provide for her family. As a single parent, she was able to apply for financial assistance from the government, but it was miniscule and still didn’t help make ends meet.

Droughts and irregular rainfall were making it difficult for Nigist to grow enough food to feed her family. No matter what she tried, her crops just couldn’t survive the heat. There wasn’t enough water to help them grow, and she didn’t have enough money to buy food at the market.

One night, as her children cried out in hunger, Nigist prayed for relief, for something to change.

Her prayer was about to be answered.

One day soon after, Nigist’s neighbour told her about a farming course offered at her local church. Tearfund’s local partner, Terepeza Development Association (TDA), was offering workshops on conservation agriculture. This was an innovative type of farming that could double, sometimes even triple crop yields despite droughts and lack of rainfall.

Two women walking on a road while carrying a blue and multicolored-speckle umbrella

When TDA walked Nigist and other villagers through the methods of conservation agriculture, she was convinced. She immediately went home and set aside some of her land to start growing maize, beans and peas. Her children even got involved, helping prepare the field so that the soil could hold moisture under the hot Ethiopian sun.

In her tiny 30x20m plot of land, Nigist grew 800kg of maize and 200kg of cowpeas. All together that’s 1 tonne–the same weight of a small car! Nigist was amazed, and told her neighbours and friends all about the results of her harvest. By using these sustainable farming methods, she saw her soil quality improve and hold water despite the drought her village was experiencing.

After her first successful harvest, Nigist decided to double her plot of land to 60x40m for the next growing season. Using conservation agriculture techniques once more, she grew 1700kg of maize and 500kg of lablab beans. Altogether, that’s the same weight of a fully grown male rhinoceros! This was more food than Nigist had ever seen in her entire life.

Nigist, once left starving and alone to raise four young children, now had more than enough food to feed her family. Her life was forever changed because of the ministry of the local church. With her faith in God renewed, she is now eager to keep learning about the love of Jesus at Sunday services.

Supporters like you are what make stories like this possible. Because of you, Nigist has hope for her future and for her children. She is no longer sinking into extreme poverty, and holds her head high with dignity. Nigist knows that God has not abandoned her, and was with her even in her darkest moments.

You can support women like Nigist and give families a future without hunger and extreme poverty.