World Health Day is April 7 and this year’s focus is food safety. More than 200 diseases are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses and chemical substances.
Helping meet the physical needs of the children in our program, and of their communities, sometimes means having to find healthy food sources. Often, farm to table is the best solution possible.
This is where little Borisut comes in. He is a sponsored child in Thailand’s rural northern region. And we’d like you to hear his perspective on how farm-to-table living has benefited not only his family but also his entire community.
This is 7-year-old Borisut.
And this is his family’s beautiful garden.
His grandparents’ generation used to plant all their vegetables by themselves. But by the time Borisut was born, people from the city had built roads into his village and started hiring the villagers to work in their fields and factories.
His mom and dad worked hard in others’ fields, but their own gardens started to dry up because no one was taking care of them. Before long, no one in their village planted their own vegetables anymore. They had to buy all of their food from other people.
The produce they purchased always contained chemicals from pesticides that gave Borisut fevers and often made his younger brother break out in rashes.
Buying food also took a lot of money, so Borisut’s mom and dad had to work extra to keep them in school. Sometimes they didn’t make enough money to buy meat, so they would eat only rice and vegetables.
Then one day at his Compassion child development center, the teacher said they would learn something new: planting a garden. The center was going to teach the children’s parents how to grow their own food again, and the kids would get to join in. Borisut was excited to learn!
The center director taught them a new motto: “Plant what you eat, and eat what you plant.”
He planted a large garden at the Compassion center to show them how it’s done. Their teachers took them walking through the garden often, teaching them about all the fruits and vegetables.
Borisut learned all about the different plants he can eat, how vegetables don’t need chemicals to grow, and how to help his mom and dad in the garden.
His parents learned about gardening from the center director. At first the family’s gardens died as soon as the summer started. But as his parents learned about water conservation and storage, the gardens stayed green all year long!
Soon they were picking their own food from the trees and bushes around their house for their meals.
Borisut’s dad is a leader in their village, so now other families come to learn from him how they can have their own garden. The village is going to be swimming in pumpkins and bananas soon!
When they have more fruits and vegetables than they can eat, the center director helps the the families sell the surplus at a small market he set up for them. Every day the families take turns sitting at their booth selling the extra produce to people from other villages.
The other villages like to buy from them because Borisut’s village knows how to grow their gardens without using harmful chemicals.
Since they stopped buying the plants with chemicals, Borisut’s fevers have stopped and his little brother no longer has painful rashes.
Not only are they healthier, they’re also saving a lot of money! With the extra money they save and earn, they can now have more meat in their food, and also money for school supplies.
This week the center director told them that one of Borisut’s friends needed food. His father is dead, and his grandmother just died; there is no one in the house to work for money. All who have gardens are going to be giving him fruits, rice and vegetables that they grew themselves.
Borisut thanks God for blessing their gardens so they can bless those around them!
* Reblogged from Compassion International's blog. Original story and photos by Jonathan Suwaratana
Learn how you can help meet needs like this for other families like Borisut’s by visiting Compassion's Gift Catalog.