Gardening for Growth

ADRACan

En Mwei; Her husband, Saw; and their four-year-old daughter make their home in a village in Myanmar's Kayin State. 

In Kayin State of Myanmar, 17 percent of people live below the poverty line. Children and pregnant women suffer from malnutrition. Fifteen percent of all children are underweight. Thirty percent of all children suffer from stunting (not developing properly). 

Tragically, UNICEF reports that in 2016 alone, 46,284 children under age five died. 

With the generous support of the Canadian government and our donors, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working in rural communities to save the lives of mothers and children. The EMBRACE project aims to improve nutrition rates for pregnant mothers and children. 

Many Canadians enjoy tending their own gardens. Planting seeds or seedlings on Victoria Day weekend. Watching the tiny shoots strive in the sunshine and become blossoms and fruit. For most of us, this is a pleasure. 

For Eh Mwei and her family, their garden is a vital means of staving off malnutrition. 

Eh Mwei told us: "During the rainy season, we would go to the jungle to collect plants that we know are edible. During the dry season, it is more difficult to harvest food from the jungle. You can still buy vegetables in the market, but it is not the best and it is expensive. Usually, we would not eat much in the way of vegetables during the summer. We would eat mostly meat and fish during this time." 

We are teaching parents like Eh Mwei and Saw how to grow gardens full of nutritious vegetables. As many families may not have been able to afford these vegetables and food before the project, we also bring caregivers together at cooking demonstrations so that they can learn how to combine the vegetables into healthy and nutritious meals for their families. 

Eh Mwei and Saw created their own kitchen garden outside their home using seeds provided by the project. 

Now vegetables high in iron, potassium, and vitamins like morning glory, tomatoes, chi qua (an Asian vegetable similar to zucchini), eggplant, and squash all grow in their garden. 

"The vegetables sold at the market are wilted and soft," said Saw. "The vegetables that we have been growing are full of flavour. It is so good to know that the foods we are eating are grown without chemicals or pesticides. I have learned about new kinds of vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, and spinach. In the training program that we did, we learned how to do soil testing... how to make our own fertilizer, and how to do composting. We learned how to plant seed at the right depth for better results, how to start our plants in a nursery." 

Eh Mwei, Saw, and their daughter appreciate the lessons they have learned. They now have the grandest garden in their village and share their new knowledge with other families. 

Sharmilla Reid, Supporter Relations Director, ADRA Canada 

ADRA Canada’s EMBRACE Project is designed to improve the lives and Health of mothers and young children in remote regions of our world. In 2016, EMBRACE began working with the Karen ethnic group in the Kayin State of Myanmar. The participants in the project are finding the concepts they are learning to be transformative. Some mothers have come to refer to the EMBRACE education collectively as, “The Message”.