Yolanda Caceres leads a support group for women who have moved from rural Bolivia to the city of Cochabamba. She is part of Tearfund’s Inspired Individuals programme.
Here Yolanda explains why she is passionate about helping the women to grow their own food.
Why are people moving from rural to urban areas?
‘As the climate changes and rainfall patterns become more unpredictable, farmers in some parts of Bolivia are finding it increasingly difficult to grow crops, feed their families and make a living.
‘This, coupled with other social and economic pressures, is causing thousands of rural Bolivians to move to the cities in search of new opportunities.’
Why do you work with older women?
‘When older women arrive in the city they often feel isolated, lonely and unproductive. This is particularly the case if they are widows, or if their children have grown up and left home.
‘I show the women how to grow fruit and vegetables, even if they only have small yards or balconies. The act of looking after the plants often gives them a sense of purpose and helps them to feel more settled and fulfilled in their new homes.
‘One lady, Ezequiela, told me, “I’m very glad because I have been able to grow lettuce, onions, coriander, parsley and celery. I can harvest and eat with confidence and I can save on some purchases I used to make in the market. I do not feel sad missing my land because now I have my little garden that keeps me active, and I am happy to see it grow every day.”
‘The gardens also provide the women with important opportunities to teach gardening skills to their grandchildren.’
What skills do they need?
‘I teach the group how to make containers out of waste items such as tyres, pieces of wood and plastic bottles. They also learn how to make a nutrient-rich compost out of weeds, dead plants and kitchen scraps, and how to use waste water from the kitchen for irrigation.
‘The group is always glad to welcome new people, and they are quick to share seedlings and ideas with them to help them start their own gardens.’