The Beth Israel Farm
One of the main problems facing South Sudan as a whole is the lack of food. The UN states that every year, an est. 3,000,000 children will die of starvation and famine in South Sudan. %99.98 percent of all the food in SS is imported from other countries such as Uganda, Kenya, etc. But it doesn't have to be so. You see, South Sudan is a beautiful and very fertile land; you can basically drop any seed you want on the ground and it will grow. There are plenty of resources around for the people to pick up a hoe and dig. So, what's the big problem-o?
Well, it turns out that the "famine" in South Sudan is mostly self- imposed. I mean, of course there are parts of South Sudan that are susceptible to drought and such and such, but the majority of the country goes through an 8-month long rainy season. What we are dealing with in SS is a mind set that is responsible for the majority of the famine conditions there. We have coined this mindset the dreaded Relief Dependency Syndrome (RDS). What is Relief Dependency Syndrome, you might ask.
For fifty years, five generations of South Sudanese suffered the effects of a war that drove them to other countries, and what do those countries have to welcome them? Refugee Camps. In refugee camps you don't have to work, you don't have to go out and provide food for your family, etc. because its all done for you. So when you have parents and their children going to live in these refuge camps, and those children grow up and raise their children in refugee camps, over a period of time you give into the mindset of, "Well, I don't have work for anything because its all given to me for free". Fifty years of that mindset permeating the core of the South Sudanese culture, then all of a sudden the your country is given independence and you are spit into it and expected to act like an adult and fend for your self when you've never done that before. What do you do? You don't do anything about it but expect that someone else will do everything for you, like it's been for your whole life.
In the new emerging nation of the Republic of South Sudan, the lack of self-governance and land based family entrepreneurial opportunities is a root cause of dependence on UN or on government welfare, which leads to family breakdown, as young people abandon the villages and fleeing in masses to the cities looking for jobs. This leads to widespread homelessness, urban crime, and sexual promiscuity, which then increases reliance on relief assistance. This is RDS, and it plagues South Sudanese. Everyone everywhere suffers from it to a degree because in plain English, its called laziness, but when a whole country is suffering from this plague, it causes problems, such as a famine. Empowerment and mobilization of traditional Christian family farming is a key protection against these destructive trends.
So what is Operation Nehemiah doing about this? Well, the bible says if ya ain't workin', ya ain't eatin' either (not a literal translation, but you get the point). Our vision here at ONMI is to rebuild the family, the church, and the community by taking one person, one family, one church, and one community at a time for Yeshua the Messiah (it says that right at the top of the page if you want to read it again). Operation Nehemiah is taking action to end famine by empowering South Sudanese men to work with their own hands and sustain their families. That is the solution to stopping hunger, not a UN handout. The challenge in post war South Sudan is to disciple men and women to understand God’s will for their lives, their families, and their land. Our goal is to dramatically reduce dependence upon imported food by encouraging families in organic farming, producing healthy food and a stable local economy.
We own about two hundred acres of farmland, called the Beth Israel Farmland, where we set the example for this by planting all different types of South Sudanese staple foods, such as cassava, millet, sorghum, sweet potatoes, beans, maze, etc. We also have a banana plantation, a mango orchard, and a small orange grove. We hire people to go and plant the food, harvest it, and then sell it in the market.For multiple years in a row we have gained a huge harvest from this garden, and the impact in just the immediate area that we work in (Kereipi, Pageri County, SS) has been huge. Imagine if the whole country could do the same thing? There would be no more famine! Our hope is that by doing this, the people will begin to see the potential they have to rebuild their country, and begin to implement these skills in their own lives for God's Glory.
Jeremiah Levi- ONMI Agricultural Director.
This video was done by our Agricultural Director, and it expounds more on what ONMI is doing through the Beth Israel Farmland Initiative.