At the root of many of the medical conditions we see on the ship is lack of proper nutrition. Besides filling immediate healthcare needs by providing surgeries, we hope to build capacity in Benin so that more people can eat healthfully and avoid diseases brought on by lack of nutrients.
Mercy Ships agriculture program focuses on training individuals from local charitable organizations to grow nutritional crops in an effective and sustainable manner. These individuals will then go on to train others in the same practice. When you focus attention on development and building capacity, you can help many more people in the long run. But, development takes time. By training the trainers, hunger and poverty issues are addressed long after the Africa Mercy departs from Benin.
Eliphaz, Agriculture Program Manager for Mercy Ships and native of Benin, showed-off his students’ progress during a visit. Along with the students’ test plots, we saw where they were learning about composting, animal production and safe food preservation (canning). The students had all already been out in communities across Benin, teaching what they had been taught, leaving a last impact on environment of Benin and the nutrition of her people.