Alemensh is improving her family’s nutrition in Ethiopia

Nov 19, 2019 | Inspiring Stories - Africa

In the Mesqan region of Ethiopia’s Highlands, The Hunger Project works hard to promote Moringa, the miracle tree. Moringa leaves contain many vitamins and minerals and they hugely enhance the nutritional value of a daily meal. This can be highly beneficial, especially for pregnant women, new mothers and young children.  

In the village Mekiche, Alemensh Degetu and her family live in a small house with a small garden. It’s a friendly looking house, with green paint. Alemensh is 35 years old and has five children. Her youngest is four months old.

During her most recent pregnancy she started to attend The Hunger Project’s 1000-days programme meetings at the Mesqan epicentre. At these meetings, mothers get information about healthy food for their babies, especially during the first 1000 days of their lives, counted from the first day of the pregnancy until their second birthday.

Alemensh says: “This is where I first heard about Moringa. During this pregnancy I started to drink Moringa tea. And after the delivery I used it to regain my strength. I bought the Moringa powder in Addis Ababa, because in this region it isn’t readily available, yet.”

Now that her baby is born, she exclusively breastfeeds her and will continue to do so until she is six months old. “After those six months I will keep breastfeeding her, but I will give her additional food too, like a porridge made with milk, eggs, some vegetables and some chopped banana tree trunk (false banana – a banana tree that does not bear fruit). If I can I will also give her some fruit and avocado. I wish I could already give her Moringa, but we’re waiting for the Moringa seedlings that we will plant in June. When these seedlings have grown big enough and we can start harvesting leaves, I will certainly use Moringa in our food.”

“My favourite meal is injera with vegetables in a sauce, like tomatoes and boiled potatoes. Now that I breastfeed, I try to eat extra fruit and vegetables. I learned that during one of the workshops on the 1000-day programme. For my older children I prepare eggs and tomatoes in a sauce with beans and sometimes I prepare some meat.”

Alemensh and her family have enough to eat. This wasn’t always the case. Just after marrying (aged 16) there were times when there wasn’t a lot of food available:

“My husband and I lived on false banana for about three to four years. However, I now have a piece of land where I grow vegetables for our family. And we make a decent enough living to also be able to buy other produce. The Hunger Project granted me a micro credit, which I used to buy some sheep and cows. I fattened them up and sold them at a profit. My husband has used his micro credit to buy a tuktuk with which he drives customers to the city. We will not experience food shortages ever again!”

Text: Mariken Stolk
Pictures: Johannes Odé

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