Transforming wasteland

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Food For Life - agrigultural programThe locals say nothing will grow in entire regions covered by sand in Madagascar. There, vegetables and fruit are a dreamed-of luxury. Nutrition is poor. The health of the vulnerable suffers.

But Mercy Ships crew member George Coleman saw treasure where other people see trash. Mercy inspired the Romanina to make a difference.

Each day as the sun rose, crewmembers gathered nine huge plastic bins of food scraps from the Mercy Ships galley. Six mornings a week they headed to the wasteland owned by a mining company. A local Christian school gained permission to use the deserted area. Love-N-Care Ministries has transformed it into a food bowl for the city’s hungry children.

Months of tossing transformed the galley-garbage into thick, nutrient-laden compost. A team of parent volunteers used the newly-created soil as a seedbed; frugally watered and richly nurtured. Finally, the seedlings are transplanted into rows of sand-holes filled with more dark compost.

Within several weeks a desolate plot became a thriving garden. Watermelons and strawberries, eggplants and peppers, corn and cabbages were all harvested in due time by the parent volunteers. This nutritious food was used to provide a noon-meal otherwise missing from their children’s day at school. The surplus was sold to buy more seeds to feed others.

Now the Mercy Ship is in another nation. It is up to the agricultural programme trainees to continue to teach others the skills they have learned. Together they can make a difference.

Because good nutrition is so closely linked to good health, each field service finds the Mercy Ships Food for Life team teaching and mentoring as they work alongside local people; composting, irrigating, raising plants from seeds and nurturing the best food choices.