“After my father was given the farming tools we were able to grow enough vegetables not only to eat, but also to sell. I can now go to school.” – Helena, 15, South Sudan
Seeds, tools and a watering can – things that most of us probably have floating around in our garden shed, but for Helena’s family, these everyday items supplied by Plan International have been life-changing.
In South Sudan, there are currently over seven million people, including children, who don’t know when they’ll next eat. Years of ongoing civil war and conflict have forced families like Helena’s to flee their homes and relocate elsewhere, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. “When we left our home we brought nothing – we just came as we were.” Says Helena.
Starting from scratch was difficult. “Our biggest challenge when we moved here is that we didn’t have a house to live in, or a mattress to sleep on – and there was no garden to grow food.” She says.
When Plan International supplied Helena’s father with farming tools, it allowed him to begin growing his own food, which meant the family were able to eat and he could support them financially by selling his produce.
The income has allowed Helena and two of her siblings to attend school, which is reassuring for the 15 year old, “I know my father will let me finish school. He is the one who sends me to school, so I am not worried I will be married off. My father has sacrificed a lot for my family so that we can go to school. And school is good.” Says Helena, adding, “My hope for the future is that I finish studying, get married and have a job working with Plan International.”
Despite the improvement in her family’s situation, there are many girls like Helena who are still experiencing food insecurity due to the ongoing and unpredictable nature of the conflict in South Sudan. In long term crisis situations, it’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, which is why we continue to raise funds for the South Sudan food crisis. With sustained support we can help communities and families like Helena’s to become more self-sufficient.
Through our programs, we’re helping farmers grow drought resistant crops and sustainable livelihoods so they are less vulnerable in time of food insecurity. We also work to address the unique needs that girls, like Helena, face during crisis – such as an inability to attend school, to be kept at home doing household chores and an increased risk of early marriage, trafficking and sexual violence.
You can help support families like Helena’s, find out how here.