Stories of Change

Leandro tends to his vegetables.

“This is the first time we have ever received support from an organization like CWS.”

Like most of their neighbors, Leandro Oliviera and his family depend on agriculture to make a living. Leandro and his wife, Angelita Vidigal, make about $5 each week by selling cassava and vegetables.

Unfortunately, the income source they depend on isn’t always reliable. The dry season in the part of Timor-Leste where Leandro and Angelita live runs from May to November each year. During these months, there is no water in their village. They walk nearly two miles to a neighboring village to bring back the precious water that has to meet all of the family’s needs, like cooking, bathing and drinking. They use the water first for meeting these basic needs, and then they use any run-off water from washing to water their vegetable garden. Despite their best efforts, these harvests were not good ones.

Leandro and Angelita have two children, who are just 2 and 4 years old. In an attempt to end their cycle of poverty and provide a better life for their children, the parents joined the CWS Timor Zero Hunger program in their area.

Their first step was to join information sessions with district agriculture office extension workers and CWS team members. Although Leandro, Angelita and their neighbors had a lot of agricultural wisdom and information already, there were some new practices and ideas that they could use to make their harvests even better. Leandro learned about raising chickens and horticulture, including how to make organic fertilizer and pest control, how to compost and how to better select different seeds for different seasons.

Then, Leandro and his family put into practice what he had learned. Like the other families participating in the program, Leandro and Angelita are now raising chickens. They are also growing more vegetables, some to eat and some to sell. “Our life has changed for the better since this project started,” Leandro says. “We now raise chickens and plant more vegetables, like morning glory, chili, tomatoes and eggplant. Already our chicken laid some eggs, which we ate, and then had four chicks, which we are raising.”

When our team was chatting with Leandro about how things are going for his family, he said, “This is the first time we have ever received support from an organization like CWS, so I would like to thank you for your presence and support.”