Christian Aid: Reaping a harvest from a salty land…
Greenbelt partner Christian Aid have unveiled some brilliant materials for this year's Harvest appeal, including activities for kids in church, and worship resources. Here's a bit of background to the project...
Before and just after [cyclone] Aila, life was really difficult. We used to struggle. Now… we can earn more. I can buy schoolbooks for my children, proper food and clothes for the family.
When Cyclone Aila struck south-west Bangladesh in 2009, homes were destroyed and farming land was submerged under sea water. Combined with the longer-term effects of climate change, Cyclone Aila was too much for those whose homes were destroyed and whose lands were submerged in the storm. Many families were forced to leave their villages, becoming ‘floating people’ without roots and, in many cases, without a means of earning a living.
Selina Begum is determined to work for her family and community so that she will not be forced from her home in the same way. ‘I will always stay here and adapt to changes. This is my own land, this is my locality, I don’t want to move from my home.’
Selina now grows saline-resistant rice seeds on her plot of land in Satkira District. ‘I used to grow [traditional] rice, but the seeds don’t grow here anymore because the water is salty. I am now cultivating saline seeds which are adapted to grow in this environment.’ Her hopes for the future are bright, as she now has the promise of a healthy rice crop which she can sell for a good profit. ‘I have received veterinary training from Shushilan and there are no clinics in this area. So I want to start one so that I can support my family and my community.’
£5 could buy environmentally-friendly fertiliser for a farmer to grow saline-resistant seeds
£10 could buy saline-resistant rice seeds and fertiliser for a family to grow rice which can be sold for £140, an incredible profit!
Asha Bishwas also has renewed hope for the future of her family. After Cyclone Aila she discovered that her land had been covered by salt water and that crops would no longer grow properly. So with training from Shushilan, she now fattens crabs for sale at market, allowing her to earn enough to send her children to school.
‘I am grateful to Shushilan and Christian Aid for improving our lives. We used to struggle. Now we are supported.’
£16 could buy enough bamboo and plastic netting to build a protected pond to rear crabs
£21 could buy baby crabs for a family to fatten so that they can sell them when they are grown. In just two weeks the crabs can be sold for approximately £70.
To order harvest posters, story leaflets and giving envelopes for your church, visit christianaid.org.uk/harvest. You can also download children in church activities and worship resources to make your harvest service a celebration of new life from a salty land!
Picture: Selina Begum harvests saline-resistant rice. Credit: Christian Aid/Genevieve Lomax