Maymoona’s Story, Algeria

Photo by UNHCR/D. Al Achi/2014.

Photo by UNHCR/D. Al Achi/2014.

I was among the first refugees to arrive to the camps. It has been more than 40 years that we are living in extremely harsh living conditions. Yet, I don’t give up. Even if I am in the middle of the desert. Even if the temperature sometimes reaches 50 degrees. Even if it is almost impossible to grow anything in the sand.

I started growing a botanical garden in 2008 after receiving training from an agricultural engineer. I actually managed to grow tomatoes, carrots, peppers, grapevines, coriander, mint and parsley, in the desert. To keep the plants and trees alive in winter, I use my daily provision of water. I use the garden for my personal needs and if it is a good season, I offer some vegetables and herbs to our neighbours.

I would like to expand and sell products from the garden but it is very difficult. I can barely get the basics such as food, water and energy. We rely on NGOs and charities who offer us the seeds. The soil is usable only 6 months a year. In summer, nothing grows here due to extreme weather conditions and limited water resources. I use these nets to protect the garden from the temperature and the strong winds. But the nets get easily damaged in the desert conditions and I need to procure new ones.

I know that this initiative is far from being sustainable but I managed to keep it alive and productive for more than 5 years. This enabled me to diversify the meals for my children who need fresh vegetables for their own development.


1 family torn apart by war is too many

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