Across rural Perquin, El Salvador, purple and red Magenta Bougainvillea grows wild. It spills over walls, climbs broken fences and makes graceful arches across dusty paths. It paints a pretty picture. But, for thousands of families who live here, life looks far from beautiful. Even at young ages, the children in this community know the difference backyard farming can make for their families.
The region’s main industry is agriculture. When harvest and planting season is over, the lack of permanent jobs means families who work as day labourers struggle to survive. In the communities where Compassion’s church partners serve, unemployment ranges from 50 per cent up to a staggering 93 per cent.
Whether it’s providing nutritious milk for them to drink or an extra source of income to improve their precarious situations, these amazing kids would love to share with you how gifts of backyard farming help impact their lives in a big way!
1. “Chickens give us delicious eggs to eat!”
Yessica and Argelio both help care for their families’ chickens. Their parents can only sometimes find work as day labourers, making their income unpredictable. But since Compassion has provided their families with chickens, their parents now have sustainable incomes!
“I like chickens because we sell them and then we have income,” says Argelio. “My tip for children is to feed the chickens in the morning. Because by nighttime, they are hungry. Eggs are so delicious. My favourite is scrambled eggs with corn tortillas and cheese.”
“We feed the chickens and give them water. We also help to keep their area clean,” says Yessica.
2. “Goat’s milk helps us become stronger and healthier!”
“If children have goats,” says nine-year-old Rebeca, “they can drink milk and be stronger and healthier.”
And she couldn’t be more right! Goats are the perfect way to provide families like Rebeca’s with milk, both to consume and sell as a regular source of income. When goats reproduce, families can sell a goat to provide for other household needs.
3. “Vegetables are nutritious and good for me.”
Daniela’s father works as a farmer, so she knows how important it is for children to eat their fruit and vegetables.
“Vegetables are nutritious and good for me. I would write some poems and songs to try to convince people to share vegetables with children around the world,” she says. “It is a good idea to share vegetables because some children don’t have anything to eat, and vegetables are good for me.”
4. “We get protein and vitamins from the healthy food we grow with money from selling our goats.”
Eleven-year-old Keysi sometimes visits her grandfather at his beautiful backyard farm, where he grows cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, plantains and even coffee beans.
“We get protein and vitamins from healthy food. It helps children grow so they can be stronger,” she says. “If you are thinking about giving a goat to a child in poverty, do it! It is a great idea because it will help them grow stronger and healthier.”
5. Raising livestock is just, well… a lot of fun!
Nine-year-old Cesia and seven-year-old Daniel have a ball taking care of their sweet little goat each day! They also love the other animals on their backyard farm.
Backyard Farming is a small gift that opens huge possibilities in the lives of children in poverty!
Words by Laura Phillips and Emily Turner
Photos by Emily Turner