It’s not every day the US Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin applauds your work in the rural community. Such was our fate during the Yali Symposium when he highlighted our work with Adopt A Garden. For a moment our representative was hesitant. He had to span the crowd for her. She stood up with wobbly feet still not believing the small work we do was catching so much attention. We have been working with rural communities and although our primary focus is smallholder farmer’s household income, we, however, what to encourage healthy rural communities void of hunger.
Inspiration for Adopt A Garden
Our work at Green Farmlands requires that we scout the rural communities for challenges through need assessment. Often challenged by how much orphanages rely on donations for subsistence, I often wondered why they won’t grow their food. Turned out they just didn’t have the knowledge to grow their food. Such was the case with the orphanages in the communities I worked with until I returned from the States as a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow from the Appalachian State University under the civic leadership track. It involved over 270 hours of both classroom and outdoor activities. During one of the outdoor activities, we visited a hospitality home.
I was very much impressed at their level of self-sufficiency. It immediately struck me as something that could be replicated back home. Upon my return, we did feasibility studies and decided to give a try with the House of Hope orphanage. This was the birth of the Adopt A Garden Initiative in 2018. Adopt A Garden, therefore, provides orphanages with the knowledge n resources need to grow and manage their garden and be food sustainable throughout the year. The Adopt A Garden initiative was such a huge success; it provided 10 indigenous vegetables for over 30 children housed in the House of Hope orphanage Ngemboh.
In 2019, we moved on to replicate the idea in the busy city of Douala at the Arnelle Orphanage which is home to over 40 physically and mentally challenged children and orphans as well. During our outreach programs, we usually put out a call for volunteers. The turnout is usually overwhelming. This tells a lot about how much people are willing to partake in such activities but often lack the information or avenue to lend their skills.
It’s been such an honour to be of service to one’s community as such. We believe there is a need for such initiatives in every community and we hope to reach out to every community in need in all ten regions in Cameroon. We believe food security and sustainable communities is feasible as long as no one is left out in the process.