Every day Mai visits the communal garden in her village to take care of the vegetables she has grown there, things such as cabbages, tomatoes, and varieties of onions, pepper, cucumber, bitter tomatoes and okra.
She comes from a family of farmers and started farming at a very early age when she used to accompany her mother to the farm. She is married with seven children, all of whom attend school.
Twice each week, she harvests her produce and transports it to the main market in Serrekunda, about 18 kilometres from the garden to sell.
On each market day, she makes a profit of 5,000 dalasi which she keeps in the bank. She uses this money to pay for her children’s school fees, feeds and clothes the family and engages in other income generating activities.
As a result of the ActionAid Women’s Rights and Right to Food programmes she now has access to water on the land.
Boreholes and trenches were dug and water pipes laid. In addition, an overhead water tank was erected and solar panels put up to help operate the boreholes.
“I thank God that things are better now,” she says. “Life was very difficult because we did not have sufficient water for the garden.
We used to carry heavy buckets of water from one end of the garden to the other. Sometimes we would carry about more than thirty buckets every day just to water our vegetables. It was really hard.
The situation of Mai is representative of almost 170 women vegetable growers in the garden.