INFLATION, sickness, malnutrition, poverty—these problems are widespread in developing lands. And there is no immediate solution in sight, at least from a human point of view. If you live in a developing land, is there anything you can do to improve the quality of your life? Yes,a there is! Following are five suggestions that you may find helpful and practical.
Number 1: Plant a Garden
“He that is cultivating his own ground will have his sufficiency of bread,” says the Bible at Proverbs 28:19. Indeed, it may surprise you to see how much can be produced on a fairly small plot of land. In his book Le jardin potager sous les tropiques (The Vegetable Garden in the Tropics), author Henk Waayenberg claims that a plot of land measuring 500 to 1,000 square feet [50 to 100 sq m] can produce enough vegetables to feed a family of six!
Why spend your resources on things that you can grow yourself? Depending on the soil and the climate, it may be possible to grow items like okra, peppers, spinach, parsley, lemongrass, green onions, cassava, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn right next to your house. At the very least, such a garden can supplement your family’s diet, and you may even have some excess produce that you can sell.
If you have sufficient land, you might also consider planting a variety of fruit trees. In some cases, a single fruit tree can produce more fruit than you and your family can eat. Learning about composting—the process of recycling dead organic matter and putting it to use as fertilizer—will help you to improve your food production. Trees can do more than produce food and extra income for your family. Well-placed trees can also give shade, clean the air, and make your surroundings more beautiful and pleasant.
What, though, if you know little about gardening? Do you have friends, neighbors, or acquaintances who have experience in this regard? Then why not ask them for help or advice? It may also be possible for you to purchase or borrow some books on gardening.—See the article “Why Not Grow a Vegetable Garden?” in the May 22, 1974, issue of Awake!
Number 2: Buy in Bulk
Do you buy basic items like flour, rice, and oil in small quantities? If so, you may be wasting a large part of your budget. Instead, if at all possible, try buying such food items in bulk, sharing the cost with two, three, or more families. Buying in bulk can also save you money when certain fruits or vegetables are in season. In some cases, you may even be able to buy things wholesale.
Number 3: Learn the Art of Food Preservation
Buying in bulk raises the question of how to store perishable items. Drying food is one popular and practical method. A great number of women in Africa make a living by drying fruits, okra, beans, squash, pumpkin seeds, and herbs. Drying does not require any special equipment. The item can be placed on a clean surface or hung up, perhaps covered by a thin cloth to discourage flies. The air and sun will do the rest.—See the article “Can You Get By for Less?” in the August 8, 1975, issue of Awake!
Number 4: Try Small-Scale Breeding
Is it possible for you to raise your own chickens, goats, pigeons, or other animals? In many places meat has become a luxury item. But with a little help from others, you can learn how to raise a small flock of animals. Do you enjoy eating fish? Well, you might try learning how to make a small fish pond. Meat, eggs, and fish contain iron, calcium, vitamins, minerals, and protein—vital to your family’s health.
Number 5: Maintain Proper Hygiene
Hygiene is also important to your family’s health. Unclean conditions attract rats, flies, and cockroaches—the cause of all sorts of sicknesses. Maintaining proper hygiene will cost you time and effort. But the cost of cleanliness is less than the cost of medicine and doctor bills. Standards of cleanliness may differ to some extent from person to person and from country to country. However, there are a few general principles that are applicable everywhere.
Take, for example, toilet facilities. In rural areas these are often allowed to be filthy and dilapidated and are a major source of illness and disease. Local health workers may be able to provide you with instructions on how to build a hygienic latrine or outhouse at very little cost.
What about your home itself? Is it neat and well kept? Does it smell clean? What about your kitchen? Is it tidy and clean? Food must be clean and cooked properly to be healthy. Germs and parasites abound in polluted water. So filter or boil water before using it. Rinse eating utensils with boiling water, and wash your hands thoroughly before handling food. Store water in clean, sealed containers.
Dogs, cats, chickens, and goats should not be allowed to roam in a kitchen—not if you want to maintain sanitary conditions. Nor should rats and mice be allowed to run over pots and pans, contaminating your food. A simple rattrap might eliminate the problem.—See “Meeting the Challenge of Cleanliness,” in the September 22, 1988, issue of Awake!
Ultimately, only God’s Kingdom will fully solve all of mankind’s problems. (Matthew 6:9, 10) In the meantime, however, these simple suggestions may help you to improve the quality of your life.