In impoverished communities in southern Sri Lanka, the main sources of jobs are domestic service, day labor and fishing. Due to the quarantine restrictions, the majority of people are out of work and have struggled to provide for their families. Nayomi, manager of a local partner child development center, says, "During our home visits and when we spoke to families on the phone, the most common issue everyone had was a loss of income and not being able to get food."
Nayomi and her staff had already implemented a home garden initiative, but they knew they would need to expand it to get as many families involved as possible. She recruited local experts for advice, and then she and other staff delivered food packets and seeds and taught families how to grow vegetables.
“We want everyone involved in this,” says Nayomi. “It is a good investment for them to save money and have nutritious food.”
Families that did not have their own land were given sacks to grow vegetables inside. Children and youth in the program were encouraged to help take care of their home gardens.
“Since my school is closed now and I have to study at home, I enjoy being able to spend time outside planting and watering my garden,” says 12-year-old Nadini, who normally would attend the center.
Ninety percent of the families began home gardens, and some grew enough to sell their vegetables at the local market. As restrictions begin to ease and parents start going back to work, partners continue to encourage families to maintain their thriving gardens as a source of extra food and income.