5 Ways Kitchen Gardens are Helping Families Flourish in Afghanistan
We all know the importance of a healthy diet. Luckily, for most of us, this is achievable thanks to easy access to fresh produce at local grocery stores and farmers markets.
But what if when you went to the market the shelves were empty except for a few loaves of bread and some potatoes? For many families living in the remote Central Highlands of Afghanistan, such a poor diet is typical—and in winter, it becomes a real threat to survival.
During the long winter months, heavy snow makes mountain passes inaccessible, cutting off communities from the outside world for months at a time. Families are left to rely on whatever they grew or gathered during the summer; hoping the food lasts until warmer weather returns. But it rarely lasts.
Kamela* and her husband, along with their son and five daughters, knew this struggle all too well. They tried to grow what they could during the warm months, but it was difficult. During the winter, if the path was clear of snow, they would travel to the bazaar to buy what little food was available, but most days it was impossible to reach.
The family, especially the children, felt the effects of not having enough to eat: often feeling weak, and easily falling ill. The children were on the brink of being malnourished.
For the last three years, Medair’s team in Afghanistan worked hard to introduce kitchen gardens to families living in these remote communities. By training local women to plant and preserve food, families not only have the food they need to survive, but to flourish!
The project is proving to be successful. Here are five ways kitchen gardens are helping families in Afghanistan flourish:
1. A more diverse and nutritious diet
Kamela and her family joined the project and were trained on how to grow their own kitchen garden near their house, making vegetables more accessible throughout the year.
“This was the first year we had that many vegetables available,” says Kamela. “We did not have to buy tomatoes, squash, lettuce, cabbage, and other things. They came from our own kitchen garden. We used to only have one kind of food, but now we have more variety, which is helping us stay strong and healthy. We aren’t so weak and don’t get ill so often now.”
2. A source of income
A healthier, more diverse diet isn’t the only thing that resulted from starting the kitchen garden. Kamela and her family were able to share some of their vegetables with neighbors who were in need, as well as to sell some at the bazaar for profit.
“We had more lettuce than we could use, so we shared it with our neighbors and family. We also sold some squash at the bazaar when we needed extra money; and saved the seeds for next season to grow more,” Kamela added.
3. Healthier hygiene practices
Additionally, women like Kamela receive training on hygiene practices that can help keep them and their families healthy and prevent unnecessary illness.
“We’ve learned how to keep the house clean in a way that is healthier for ourselves and the environment. For example, we sort through our garbage and know how to make compost from part of it, which we use to feed our land. And our family doesn’t get ill as often as before,” said Kamela.
4. Stronger foundations for babies
Mothers and caregivers like Kamela also learn about how to keep their youngest family members healthy. Medair-trained health promoters educate new mothers on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and introducing healthy food, when appropriate, to give their babies the best start.
5. Quality family time
Kamela’s kitchen garden has become a source of pride and fun for the family.
“Taking care of the kitchen garden is a big hobby for us. It’s so nice to be busy in the garden watering, weeding, and tending to our plants.
“More people in the area need activities like this and need to know about this project,” urges Kamela. “You really changed our lives. Thank you for coming so far to help us.”
Please join us in assisting more families like Kamela’s by making a gift to our Women and Children’s Fund. Each gift is a seed of hope bearing fruit in the lives of those living in some of the most isolated and often forgotten communities in the world.
This month, we are cooking up something extra for our supporters . . .
a Culinary Challenge!
Are you familiar with Afghan cuisine? If not, try one of these recipes to get a taste of the local cuisine. And let us know you did by tagging us on social media @MedairInt.
*Names have been changed for reasons of security.