In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of South Central Timor, Indonesia, closed public markets. And with all local markets closed, Afes worried. He wouldn’t be able to sell his cassava or banana harvests, and his family urgently needed the money. His recent corn crop had failed because there wasn’t enough rain, so his family’s resources were already stretched too thin. Once again, he and his wife wouldn’t be able to give their children nutritious meals.
For Afes, the coronavirus pandemic was the peak of a crisis that had been building for years. He and his family make a living by planting corn, sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas and coconuts. But climate change has led to unpredictable weather patterns. Year after year, the rains have been coming later and have been lighter. There just isn’t enough water to support the family farm.
Afes used to make about $50/month, which means that his family falls in the Indonesian government’s categorization of “very poor.” But recently even that $50/month started slipping away. He still dreams of sending his younger children to school like his older ones, but that dream seemed less and less likely. Instead, his family faced food insecurity.
Clearly, Afes was fighting an uphill battle to provide the life he wanted for his children. But the CWS family, thanks to support from Latter-day Saints Charities, came alongside him to help.
Afes joined the CWS Timor Zero Hunger program, which focuses on building food security and livelihoods for vulnerable families, especially ones with young children. As part of a life-saving nutrition initiative, our team has been buying eggs locally and providing them to families like Afes. It’s a short-term measure to ensure that his children are getting the nutrition they need. Eggs are an excellent nutritional supplement for kids, so we’re helping more families add them to their diets. “The eggs are very helpful to keep my children healthy, especially my young ones. Eggs are very important for our nutrition, and better nutrition means the children don’t get sick so easily,” Afes says.
And when you want to add eggs to your diet, what’s the most sustainable way to make sure you always have eggs on hand? Raising chickens! Through the CWS program, Afes got supplies to build a chicken coop. Soon he will fill it with two hens and a rooster. Then his family will have eggs and chicken meat that they can add to their meals. Plus, they can sell eggs and chicks to earn more income.
CWS is also helping Afes learn about new strategies to adapt to the changing climates. He now knows more about terracing and plating climate-adaptive crops like sorghum, which CWS is helping him do.
Little by little, Afes’s worry is being replaced with gratitude. His income is still down because of the pandemic, but he is receiving immediate support while also building long-term resilience.
“So, thank you CWS, and the LDS Church, for your help to all of us in this village,” Afes says.