By Juita Wilna N (Community Development Officer in Mentawai)

‘She burst out laughing, and I’ll never forget her voice. Her warm hug reminded me of my mother at home. Her name is Tabita.’

Tabita is 75 years old and she lives with her husband in the hamlet of Muntei, in the Malakopak village in Pagai Selatan Island, Mentawai. They work together on their farm and share household chores as well.

‘Sometimes he cooks, then I wash the dishes. Or he washes our clothes. We work together on the field, always sharing responsibilities’.

Farming is the only opportunity for a livelihood for them, since they live in a remote area far away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. They grow various plants including taro, cassava, areca nuts, nutmeg, banana and cardamom.

Tabita is a member of a SurfAid-empowered farmers group, and has been given a start-up grant in the form of cardamom seeds. After listening to her story I joined her in the field where she taught us how to plant cardamom seeds properly: ‘You must first fertilize the soil, and the hole should be 3-5cm in diameter, and the spacing 1.5mx1.5m.’ Buai (meaning grandma/grandpa in Mentawai language) Tabita and her husband have been empowered by SurfAid’s work and ongoing support.