Ahmed helps Gende Tesfa school with their urban garden project and lives opposite the school in a hut with his wife and four children. He had a fifth child, but he died, but there is no time to mourn says Ahmed. He has to be pragmatic and focus on his other children.
He earns around £15 a month for working an 8 hour day, and it is a struggle to feed his children. They have bread and water or roasted grains once, twice or three times a day depending on whether his wife can earn some extra money.
“I love my job,” he says, “because I feel at peace in the school garden and it’s a form of escapism for me. We grow lots of fruit and vegetables here, and then give them to the poor in the community. I get a lot of help from the Scout group at the school and from parents. In Ethiopia, no matter what our personal circumstances, we like to give people less fortunate than ourselves.”
Before becoming a gardener, Ahmed was a soldier in the Ethiopian army, but he didn’t like that job. This is Ahmed’s best job and the happiest part of his life so far. When asked about his childhood, with tears welling in his eyes, he says: “I have erased my childhood from my mind. It was too painful.”