We are working to eliminate the possibility of famine from Ethiopia’s future. Our Food Security Program not only provide families with sustainable sources of food but also a basis of income.
Farming is at the core of those who live in Yetebon. We educate the children how to garden from a very young age. Fourth graders are given a plot in the community garden, as a school project. At the end of the year, they take home a fruit tree seedling. Parents work in the garden as a way to pay for their student’s meals.
Dairy Cattle Breeding Program
What is in the power of a dairy heifer in a remote part of Ethiopia? The heifer is a specialized breed that allows the family to get up to fourteen liters of milk a day. They are able to provide it to their children as a nourishing source of animal protein. The leftover milk is churned into butter or local cheese, and sold at the market to provide additional income.
Can you imagine, never ever eating an egg? For many children in Yetebon, they have never had an egg. In the fall of 2018, 1,000 chickens arrived on the compound. The eggs are used in our School Meal Program for the children in grades Pre-K through eighth grade. After training, chickens are given to families in the area for their nutritional needs and the extra eggs can be sold for a profit.
In 2016, we went back to our organizational roots, and provided nutrient dense food for those in Jijiiga, Ethiopia. Project Mercy was able to provide over 37,000 pounds of food, to those in the famine region. Project Mercy started as an aid and relief organization for refugees in Africa. Our co-founder, Marta, develop Atmit, that saved thousands of lives of refugees. In the beginning, Project Mercy partnered with World Vision to disseminate the meals. Many women, all over the United States, sewed clothes for refugees and Project Mercy was honored to distribute them.
What is the Power of One Heifer?
It is just a cow! However, for the recipients of crossbred dairy heifer from Project Mercy’s Dairy Cattle Breeding Program, it is more….let Birhane tell you in her own words.
Hello, my name is Birhane Esheti. I have seven in my family, three of those are my children. I obtained a heifer from Project Mercy’s Dairy Cattle Breeding Program. After I received the heifer, I gave milk to my children. The extra milk, I am able to sell. Due to the extra income, we can afford to send our children to a private school. I hope Project Mercy will continue to give heifers to more women like me who are stay-at-home moms.
One of the 101: Megrtu- Helping a Mom buy her Children School Supplies
Megrtu Tsega has no money to buy her children supplies for school. (Her children attend a government school which is free but there are hidden costs everywhere.)The family farms a plot of land to grow beans and barley for a living. To make ends meet, her husband took a second job working for the township or the Kebele. His wages are still low in the government position.
She so wants to give her children the best! Can you imagine her “mother’s heart” here? However, they cannot afford the basic school supplies.
In January 2017, Megrtu participated in the Dairy Cattle Breeding Program and was given a heifer. Once the heifer came to the Tsega’s family home, the children were able to drink milk. Dairy products are extremely expensive and without the heifer, the family would not be able to afford this “luxury”.
Today, the family has three heifers and one more on the way. Megrtu makes yogurt, butter, and a traditional cheese. She is able to feed her children and sell the extra at the market.
“It is my prayer our heifer has another heifer so we can have more milk,” she stated.
Now the extra income provides her children with all the school supplies they need. She is even able to buy soap for her family so her children do not have to go to school dirty. “Soap is hard to find in my country,” Megrtu affirmed.
She is just one of the 101 lives impacted by the Dairy Cattle Breeding Program.
101 and Counting
We reached a milestone in our Dairy Cattle Breeding Program. We gave out our 101st crossbred heifer. Local, Zonal (similar to a state), and Federal Government Officials came to encourage the program, give the cattle to the families, and past recipients spoke. We are so grateful for the opportunity to impact 101 different families.
For many of the children in Yetebon, they have never tasted an egg before. Eggs are expensive in Ethiopia! Through a partnership with OneEgg, the students will soon taste their first egg ever. Stay tune!
Fruits of Labor
She works in the garden not to feed her family but the community. Her children attend the school and the way she pays for their meals is volunteering in the garden. The skills she is learning are also helping her feed her family. She has started a little garden in front of her hut. She was even able to pack her oldest lunch. The avocado trees in the garden are part of the school projects from her children. Not only is the community reaping the fruit of labor but the family as well.
Rooting Out Poverty and Famine
Poverty and famine are so very closely related. Ethiopia has a long history of famine but in our efforts to renew the heart of a nation, we are working to help with both poverty and famine. In our Food Security Program, we help them to provide for their family first, thus relieve the possibility of a famine. The goal is for the family to have extra milk, eggs and crops. The extra products and byproducts (such as cheese and butter) can be sold at market. The income generated not only provides the family with a second source of income but also a means to buy school supplies, provide holiday celebrations and much more.