Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Farm for Children

On the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, I recently had opportunity to visit a children’s home operated by Samuel Thang. Impressively, Samuel and team are using 20 acres of adjoining land to produce enough rice to feed 47 children five months out of the year. Leftover rice straw provides enough fodder to fuel the home’s four cows, which in turn produce a year round supply of milk.

One other thing that the cows and 15 resident goats produce (with the help of a few pigs) is manure. This by-product fertilizes the home’s three-acre garden, making the operation almost completely self-sufficient in vegetables. Additionally, various types of fruit trees, including guava, banana, and papaya as well as pineapple, are scattered throughout the garden.

Samuel stresses that while the supplemental production of milk, rice, fruit, vegetables and a little meat lowers overall expenses by at least ¼, such an effort requires adequate land, water, labor and management.

The kids chip into the overall effort during daily chore times as well as Saturdays and holidays. Samuel reckons that exposure to appropriate farm activities is good for the children, offering them important life skills. Still, he reminds us that their involvement in such work is auxiliary since the main focus of the ministry is to provide the young people with a good education and a safe place to reside.

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