One of the ways we help communities is by introducing new and healthy foods into their diets. Chickens and eggs are not a traditional food for the Hamar people in Ethiopia, but they are a great source of protein.
This spring in the Hamar community of Gurdo, 12 women and 11 men together completed our functional literacy course where, in addition to learning to read and write, they learned how to raise chickens and prepare nutritious meals for their families using eggs and chickens. When they completed their schooling, they all received chickens and the supplies they needed to begin tending their own flocks.
We’re already seeing numerous benefits. The Hamar culture is communal and collaborative, so when families have a surplus of eggs or chickens, they pay it forward naturally, sharing their new resources to better the entire community. By this summer, 11 of the Gurdo families we are working with shared their surplus eggs and chickens with 21 additional families, a dramatic return on a modest investment! The fact that the Hamar people are predisposed to share with the rest of their community means that we when we introduce a new food and new income source to a small group of people, it does not take long for the larger community to catch on. They help each other improve their food security and create new income generating opportunities.
Another benefit is the involvement of women in the classrooms and sharing their new skills with their community. In a traditionally gender segregated culture, providing a path for men and women to work together is the key to unlocking the voice of the women. It provides a safe environment where men and women begin to discover the value of joint decision-making and problem solving.