One of the most fulfilling experiences in my career was on a June day in 1999 on the far side of the Niger River in Niamey, Niger,
Women Farmers in Fada N'Gourma, Burkina Faso, at a training nursery where orange-fleshed sweetpotato and other nutritious crops are being grown.
I started with Helen Keller International in April 1994 – as country director in Bangladesh. One of the most exciting programs I inherited was our home gardening initiative – which has evolved to become Enhanced Homestead Food Production – “enhanced” to include small animal husbandry and increased focus on promotion of optimal nutrition and health behaviors. When I moved from Bangladesh back to Africa in 1997 this was one experience I ardently wanted to replicate – since access to nutritious foods is one of the major obstacles that women face in providing adequate diets to their children.
I also observed firsthand how bringing technical expertise to small-holder women farmers could be transformational – building on their traditional knowledge about gardening and allowing them to develop more skills and generate increased income.
It is very moving, 19 years after having joined HKI, to sign this new grant with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).