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Turning seeds into schooling in South Sudan

Turning seeds into schooling in South Sudan

“We have so many different vegetables we can all eat, but we are also selling them,” Agum told me.

“From the money, I have been able to send my two boys to school.”

Agum’s story is one I heard over and over again on my most recent trip to South Sudan, and it’s such a welcome one.

In a country that has been at civil war since 2013, and that scored highest in the Fragile States Index last year, signs that there might be a better future for the next generation are truly inspiring – especially given the conditions facing families like Agum’s just a year ago.  

“Last year we only ate once a day and we never ate any vegetables, only wild berries and leaves from the forest,” she says.

“Now we eat twice a day, and I am keeping our extra seeds for next planting season.”

Agum is using the money she makes from selling vegetables to send her sons to school
Agum is using the money she makes from selling vegetables to send her sons to school.

Now we never need to go to the market to buy vegetables again. And we even have enough to sell, so we can buy clothes and medicine! 

– Deborah, South Sudan

Plan International has been providing seeds and tools to communities like Agum’s in South Sudan, as well as training on farming practices, nutrition and seed multiplication.

We’ve also been providing essentials, including soap and mosquito nets, to help families practice good hygiene and stay safe from diseases.

It’s amazing to see how big the impact has been, and how much wider than anyone expected.

In one community, villagers have managed to use four sacks of green gram to feed their families, while also collecting 12 sacks of seeds, alongside nine sacks of sorghum, for the next planting season.

As well as seeing their nutrition improve, they’ve also been able to buy household items and share additional seeds with their neighbours and family members – who have in turn started to plant the land surrounding the plots, sharing the water points and tools.

The result is a truly collaborative approach to improving their lives and the future of their community.

With the money I send my children to school and buy medicine and clothes. It’s nice to socialise with the other women in the gardens. I have also learnt to multiply for next season.

 – Atheen, South Sudan

While these stories are incredibly encouraging, and families are undoubtedly eating better than they were before, it is only because they are showing remarkable resilience in conditions of long-term food insecurity, the pressures of which are unbearable to imagine.

They are also full of the most wonderful generosity.

The people I met are so happy to have Plan’s support that I was twice offered live chickens as a gesture of thanks – despite the fact meat is a luxury they will probably only eat once a month, if that.

It left me feeling hugely humbled but also with a spark of optimism for what lies ahead as, despite the immense challenges, these communities continue to grow their livelihoods and invest in the next generation, and their future.

Find out more about life as an emergency response worker like Dominika – and what UK Aid has made possible – at #OrdinaryExtraordinary

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