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Living in poverty in Ethiopia, Tizita only had enough food to feed her six children one meal a day. But everything changed when Holt donors helped her grow a vegetable garden.

Tizita — a mom of six in southern Ethiopia — was smart, skilled and capable. She and her husband both worked hard every day, and still they couldn’t get out of poverty. She knew what she had to do to earn a better income. But it was frustratingly unreachable…

“Life was very difficult because my family had to depend solely on my husband’s income, which was very far from meeting my family’s basic needs,” Tizita says. And with such a large family — with children ranging in age from 16 years to 6 months old — providing for their basic needs felt impossible.

Tizita with her husband and three of her children. Life has become so much better now that they have a garden to provide their daily food and income!

“Our children sometimes would have one meal a day,” she says. “We couldn’t provide the education supplies for our children, they wore torn clothes and hand-me-downs, and oftentimes they would go to school barefoot.”

Her husband worked as a day laborer, gathering firewood, loading it onto a rented donkey and selling it at the local market. Tizita did all she could to create income too. They had some fruit on their property that she would pick and sell at the market. But she quickly learned that she needed to provide a greater variety of fruits, and at a higher quantity, to make a profit.

She wanted to grow her garden — as food for her children and to sell extra produce in the market. But she had no way to get the startup money she needed to make this a reality…

Gardening to Overcome Poverty

“Some of the major hurdles for families to start gardens include lack of knowledge and the cost of seeds,” says Emily DeLacey, Holt’s director of nutrition and health services. That’s why the gift of garden seeds, tools and training is one of Holt’s most impactful Gifts of Hope.

One of the crops Tizita gardens is false banana, a staple in Ethiopian diet.

And when Tizita received this Gift of Hope from a Holt donor across the world, everything changed for her and her family.

As with all Gifts of Hope, not only did Tizita receive the tangible items she needed — but the support, training and community she needed to put them to their best use.

Gift of Hope Provides Support to Succeed

First, Tizita attended Holt Ethiopia’s income-generating training where she learned how to successfully start and run a small business. Women in the group learned how to earn income from skills like weaving and tailoring, cooking and — like her — gardening. She learned about saving her money and how to run her business to be stable and sustainable. The group of women in her cohort grew together, and even invested their money together as a sort of community bank to be able to support each other financially as they worked to overcome poverty.

Tizita’s oldest daughter, 16, holds her youngest daugher — just 6 months. Now all of the children in their family have the food they need to grow and thrive!

Then, she received the Gift of Hope of gardening seeds and tools to get started! Tizita grew carrots, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, herbs and more. And as her garden grew, so did her family’s meals. Now, her children never have to skip a meal. They have nutritious fruits and vegetables every day to fill their tummies and help them grow.

“Home gardens can help families to become more food secure by providing an accessible source of good nutrition to support the household,” Emily says. “And these gardens are directly related to improving children’s nutrition and growth! When families have home gardens, we see an increased intake of nutritious foods for children.”

Her business grew, too. In fact, with such a variety of produce to bring to the market, her business is thriving. This added income has made an incredible difference in all areas of their lives. They can now buy their children’s school supplies, provide their children with clothes and shoes, and even focus on some much-needed renovations to make their home safer.

“Thanks to [Holt sponsors and donors], not only are we able to live decently, but also we are motivated to keep on striving for more.”


Tizita has even become a leader and role model in her community. She teaches her friends and neighbors how to grow food, start small businesses and uplift their families from poverty, too.

“I am very happy and grateful to Holt International for providing me with this opportunity.” Tizita says. “Thanks to [Holt sponsors and donors], not only are we able to live decently, but also we are motivated to keep on striving for more.”

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