In India, villagers’ gardens yield hope
Susie Banks, Baptist Press
October 04, 2011

In India, villagers’ gardens yield hope

In India, villagers’ gardens yield hope
Susie Banks, Baptist Press
October 04, 2011

INDIA – The young mother rushes out to Saachi Sarkar* as she

walks up the jungle path to the village. The mother is all smiles as the two


“It’s working,” the mother says, excitedly pulling the older woman to the

vegetable garden. “See? We did everything just like you taught – and now there’s

enough here to feed us and even some left over to sell.”

The pair walks the rows of flourishing tomatoes and beans, stopping to pluck

off a dead leaf. It’s only been a few months since Sarkar taught the FAITH

(Food Always In The Home) gardens workshop sponsored by the Southern Baptist

World Hunger Fund, but it’s already taking root in this impoverished community

in India. The goal of the program is to bring about transformation by teaching

villagers to not only grow food for themselves but to also sell the excess in

the market.

As Sarkar asks about organic fertilizer, she snuggles the young mother’s baby

and notices a marked improvement in his health from her last visit. The sores

on his body are gone; his hair is losing the orange-tint of malnutrition and he

is energetic.

This in itself is a big sign that the nutrition lessons and growing their own

healthy vegetables are taking hold. In India, UNICEF estimates more than 147

million children under age 5 suffer from malnourishment. Sarkar estimates every

child in this village suffers, as well as the adults who gather around her.

BP photo

A woman in India picks tomatoes in a field prepared and cultivated through FAITH (Food Always In The Home) garden techniques. This test plot places the FAITH gardens technique next to the traditional farming methods so villagers can see the huge difference in yield.

“Are you eating your dark green, leafy vegetables?” Sarkar asks. In India, most

mothers are anemic because they do not get enough iron.

A woman in the crowd answers, “Yes, we are doing exactly as you said.

“We even meet to pray now,” the woman continues, quickly glancing to the tree

line not more than 400 feet away, where bands of terrorists live and roam. “Since

we started doing that every day, there is much peace in our village.”

Sarkar nods her head in understanding. This area is known for terrorist

activity. Even though she can’t see the men with guns and bombs, she knows they

are watching. Not many outsiders venture this far into the jungle. The

terrorist group allows her entry because she has something useful to teach –

farming and nutrition.

“Hunger is a result of poverty and poverty is the main

reason there are terrorists in this area. They join ‘the cause’ so their

stomachs will be filled,” Sarkar explains. “With this program, we can change

the fate of communities – physically, economically and spiritually.

“FAITH gardens are a great tool God has given us so we may enter unreached

areas like this,”

Sarkar says, explaining that as a result of sharing Christ’s

love through caring for physical needs, more than 50 prayer cells have started.

Sarkar’s team estimates they will reach more than 29,000 adults and children

through 14 FAITH garden workshops this year. The World Hunger Fund, channeled

through Southern Baptist humanitarian workers, helps with the $443 cost of

supplies and starter seeds for each training session.

For just 21 cents per person, hunger and malnutrition are tackled at a

grass-roots level, with one Indian teaching another to grow their own

nutritious food and sustainable crops. Sarkar’s goals are for malnutrition to be

a thing of the past and for families to earn enough money from their vegetable

gardens to send their children to school – putting an end to the

poverty/terrorism cycle in this part of the jungle.

*Name changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Banks is a writer/editor living in Asia. For more

stories about the World Hunger Fund at work overseas, go to asiastories.com.

For information about promoting or donating to the Southern Baptist World

Hunger Fund, visit worldhungerfund.com.

Oct. 9 is World Hunger Sunday for Southern Baptist churches across North

America. Since 1974, Southern Baptists have fought the problem of hunger

through their World Hunger Fund. One hundred percent of every dollar given to

the fund is used to provide food to undernourished people all over the world –

80 percent through the International Mission Board and 20 percent through the

North American Mission Board.)