Students living in poverty are learning to grow vegetable gardens that help provide food for themselves and their classmates
Giang Thi Di’s village, nestled in Vietnam’s mountainous Lao Cai Province near the China border, is about five miles from her school. She leaves early in the morning to attend classes and returns home late at night.
Fifteen-year-old Di is just one of many students in the region who do not have enough food to eat. Her family relies on the rice and corn they grow, but extreme weather in the highlands often destroys their crops.
Di’s family lives in poverty, and so does about 70 percent of Lao Cai’s population. It is one of the poorest provinces in the country.
Samaritan’s Purse is battling poverty in the highlands of Vietnam through livelihoods projects, including gardening training. Last year, Di and 29 of her classmates were trained to grow vegetables.
“We were given skills to grow safe and healthy vegetables, even learning which are suitable with the climate and terrain of our area,” Di said.
The students learned how to identify edible vegetables, grow different vegetables, and fertilize soil to reap a high yield of crops. Di earned one of the highest scores when the students were tested on their gardening knowledge.
Since she scored so well, Di was given hands-on learning opportunities. She practiced preparing soil, sowing seeds, fertilizing and watering vegetables, and applying disease prevention methods to crops.
Several months after her training, Di and a few friends planted the first vegetable garden on their school campus. In their garden they grow many types of vegetables such as mustard, morning glory, cabbages, spinach, and betel.
The garden provides enough food for 50 students to have lunch at school every week.
A Better Future
Di plans to also use her gardening skills to help her family.
“I will share what I learned with my family, relatives, and friends,” she said. “I will develop a vegetable garden for my family so my parents don’t have to go into the forest to find bamboo shoots or other vegetables.”
The training this ninth grader received from Samaritan’s Purse is helping meet immediate physical needs and will “make the way for me to have a better future,” Di said.