Heni (middle) with her husband and son Yardi at their community garden. © Sarah Gray
Each day Heni carefully tends to her garden where she grows an assortment of fruits, vegetables and her son’s favourite, dragon fruit. It’s a job that she takes great pride in.
"We take care of the plants… we plant the onions and wait for them to grow, and we water them. That is what we do every day,” Heni said.
For many families living on Rote Island, Indonesia, farming and fishing are their main forms of employment. The island has an abundance of land and natural resources, but many families are still trapped in poverty, struggling to make ends meet.
In Indonesia, two in three people live on less than US$2.50 a day. Families living in rural and remote areas are often the poorest and are also less likely to have access to the tools they need to leave poverty behind. Families may lack access to healthcare, education and other essential services.
But a humble community garden is helping to change that.
For the past year, Heni has been working at a community garden that she part owns, funded by Opportunity International Australia’s Indonesian microfinance partner, TLM. Through working in the community garden, families learn best farming practices and sell the fruits of their labour at the local market.
This community garden was first created by 12 families and has today grown to benefit 33 families. The community garden provides families with not only a source of income, but fresh and nutritious food.
Heni feeds her family with her harvest from the community garden. © Sarah Gray
“Sometimes when we get a small harvest, I give some to my son to eat, and we sell the rest to get additional income for our family,” Heni said. “His (Yardi’s) favourite fruit is dragon fruit so I will try to keep growing it. That is the only fruit he likes.”
As their most popular produce, the organic dragon fruit grown in the community garden is frequently sold far beyond Rote Island to markets across Indonesia. With the additional income from her garden, Heni hopes to send her son Yardi to school.
“I have a lot of dreams.."
Like many parents in Indonesia, Heni longs for her son to receive a quality education – something she missed out on. Growing up, Heni was only able to finish primary school. She remembers working in the paddy fields so her family would have enough to eat.
“I have a lot of dreams, but I don’t know how to reach them,” Heni said.
“I have a dream that Yardi will grow up to be not like his parents but better. Maybe I want them to live here, but I also want them to go out and get some knowledge. Then they will come back here to use it for helping people.”
Opportunity's work in Indonesia is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).
Learn more about our impact in Indonesia