Simri Tefu and his wife Yetri are in their early twenties, and their son, Bento, is three. They live in Enonabuasa village on the western side of Timor island. Most families in this remote and impoverished village, which is at the farthest end of the Indonesian archipelago, are subsistence farmers. Many young children here suffer from malnutrition, particularly stunting, meaning they are too short for their age. So, to help address this challenge, during the past two years and through the Timor Zero Hunger program, CWS has been supporting families like the Tefus to grow more nutritious vegetables and raise chickens to diversify and improve their diet – especially for their young children.
As first steps with CWS, each family received a variety of vegetable seeds and some hands-on support for learning how to compost and make organic fertilizer, and also help in building coops for a rooster and a hen (each). Next everyone learned how to keep chickens in coops, which was a new idea in West Timor where chickens normally roam free, and families also heard about the importance of vaccinating and properly feeding these birds. Recently, Simri told us, “We have been harvesting vegetables for our daily meals, and since we now have chickens, we do not have to buy eggs and chicken meat from the market. And we can have eggs up to four times a week. My son,” Simri added, “he eats eggs almost every day.”
Since starting to raise chickens in November 2015 Simri has sold eggs only twice because he prioritizes his family’s food needs first, selling only those they would not eat. “So far we have only sold 18 eggs for about 20 cents each, and we used the money to buy salt and vegetable oil. We have not sold any chickens yet as I plan to have at least 100 before selling any. Even though we have eaten some chickens ourselves, I am half-way to my goal!” Simri continued.
To support his ambitious aim, Simri has built a second coop to accommodate his growing flock. “I have put all my new knowledge into action, starting with how to properly make a coop, what to feed the chickens and when, and following the practice of letting the chickens run around our yard during daytime and putting them back in the coops every evening to avoid predators,” Simri explained.
With some basic information-sharing and education leading to better home gardening and chicken-raising, Simri and his family now have a better diet and a little extra money from selling eggs. When Simri realizes his plans, they will have even more money to change the family’s life in other ways as well. “I plan to use the money that we expect to earn from selling chickens to improve our house replacing the wooden walls and dirt floors with concrete walls and a cement floor, which will help us improve our hygiene and health, too.”