Hello from India, from the village of Aradaspally! Meet brothers Vija and Siddhartha, who are excited to share about how their small village has been transformed. Siddhartha is 8 years old, and Vija is 10 years old.
Their favorite games to play include cricket, the national sport of India, as well as kabbadi, a traditional game similar to playing tag. Vija wishes to be a school teacher when he is older, because he loves school and learning. Siddhartha on the other hand, wants to become a doctor, in order to help heal people who are sick. This is something both Vija and Siddhartha are familiar with.
“It was not very nice being sick,” Siddhartha shares. “We would get fevers a lot, our heads would hurt, and we often got other infections too. Sometimes our knees and ngers would hurt a lot. It was very painful.”
“Yes, Siddhartha and I could not go and play with our friends, and it was hard to go to school or do chores when we were sick,” adds Vija. “We are both glad that we are healthy now, and can work and play as much as we want to!”
The way Vija and Siddhartha became healthy again was through a CBM-funded program called BLESS (Burden & Love for the Economically & Socially Suppressed), which helped their grandfather Ramalu and their village by offering tips to help improve farming. This produced more healthier food to eat. The program is run through the South Lallaguda Baptist Church in India. Before the help of BLESS, it was very hard and expensive to farm. But the boys’ family received seeds and training from BLESS which produced healthier crops and more variety of foods like vegetables, for better nutrition than ever before.
The seeds the family used to buy never sprouted well, and they always had to use lots of chemicals to grow the crops. Now their family can actually keep some of the crop and use it as seeds for the next season because it grows much better. Not only that, BLESS taught them a different way to farm that protects and saves the earth from getting destroyed, called conservation farming. Almost no chemicals for killing bugs and parasites or fertilizing the soil are required, which used to destroy the crops. Instead, composting is taught, and new native plants (azola) & oils (neem) are introduced to fertilize and protect crops naturally.
Things really have changed in the village of Aradaspally for Ramalu and his grandsons. Being healthy, now having enough food to eat and money to pay for school and other needs that could not be afforded in the past. With programs like BLESS, there is hope – and it started with some seeds!