What are the Christmas wishes of farming families around the world? As a December blog series, Plant With Purpose shares what families in each of our six partnering countries wish for, and what gives them hope. First up: Tanzania.
Proper nutrition is essential for raising a healthy family. However, many Tanzanian children are growing up malnourished in one of the hungriest countries worldwide. Farming families often eat only what they can produce, and struggle to grow a balanced diet that includes enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Neema Elifadhi is a 38-year-old mother providing for her three daughters in Tae, a small Tanzanian village. For many years, Neema’s family experienced chronic malnutrition. Neema joined Plant With Purpose in 2010 and received several trainings including entrepreneurship, organic vegetable farming, chicken management, and environmental conservation. Through these trainings, Neema was equipped to feed her daughters a full and balanced diet, as well as pay their school fees on her own.
Neema remembers, “I revived my local chicken project from 10 to 170 in three month’s time and sold 150 birds.” Now she also grows and sells organic vegetables from her double dug garden. She says that with extra income from selling her produce, “I managed to build a three-room modern house using burnt bricks and corrugated iron sheets with electricity in it for my family. I am also able to pay for all the required bills & contributions for my house hold in the community without relying from any person.”
This Christmas, fulfill the wishes of mothers like Neema by gifting the tools and resources they need to feed their families. Give any of the five gifts of nutrition to help supplement a family’s diet. A clutch of chicks, a family garden, a goat, a pair of rabbits or a piglet can make all the difference for a rural farming family.
Please join our international family on the first Friday of the month to pray for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of partnering farming families, Plant With Purpose staff, supporters, and international programs. We have so much to be thankful for as we celebrate the coming of Christ and 2013 wraps up!
We praise God for:
- The 89 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) groups, the majority of which started in 2013!
We pray for:
- The current planting season. Pray for a good year of crop growth and a fruitful harvest for our partnering communities.
- The baseline study of our watershed program that is starting the first week of December. Over the next couple of years, we hope to use this program to learn more about what works best and how we can better help farmers create sustainable improvements in their environment, lives, and livelihoods.
- Country director Lazare as he finishes his paper titled, “A Theology of Land and the Fatherless: An Essay of Post-Colonial Reading on Land Ownership in The Great Lakes Region of Africa.” Pray that his efforts will be well received and will further discussion on how the church can better care for needs of local communities.
We praise God for:
- The graduation celebration of adults who are now able to read thanks to their completion of the literacy program.
We pray for:
- The regional VSLA training and debriefing meeting of community leaders taking place on December 13th.
- The community of El Verde as they construct an aqueduct for a more consistent source of water.
We praise God for:
- The positive results of communities saving together through the VSLA program.
We pray for:
- The new savings-and-loan groups starting at two churches this month. Pray for involvement by community members and that the groups will bring change for participating families.
- The upcoming visit of program officer Milmer who is bringing with him a VSLA consultant.
- God’s guidance for our staff as He motivates us to move the program forward in alleviating poverty in partnering communities and throughout the entire country.
We praise God for:
- The work that has been completed in 2013. We saw God’s hand in each of our projects.
- Everyone who partners with Plant With Purpose. We praise Him for each supporter and Plant With Purpose staff member who invest their energy, time, resources, and lives to make this work possible. We ask for God’s blessing on everyone and praise God for his protection this year.
- The tomato production workshop held last month that involved farmers from partnering communities.
We pray for:
- The year-end promoters meeting, which will evaluate program objectives. Pray for the strength of these volunteers and that they are blessed by doing a great job in their communities.
- The local churches involved in the Creation Care efforts. Pray that God would continue to give direction and encouragement to them.
- Our national, state, and municipal governments. Also, pray for peace and justice in our country.
We praise God for:
- Country director Richard who successfully completed his MBA. Thanks to his efforts, we’ve seen excellent growth of Plant With Purpose programs in Tanzania. Richard has been working very hard and is a great blessing to our team.
We pray for:
- The upcoming group competition! Groups from VSLAs, churches, schools, and other institutions, are actively preparing to plant the most trees and biointensive backyard gardens. Pray for accuracy, good performance, and safety for all the groups that participate.
- More seedlings. The demand for trees is higher than the available supply in the Kilimanjaro region. We want to continue planting through the start of the New Year so many groups are starting new nurseries.
We praise God for:
- The meaningful visit from Cathi and Ian Lundy (Plant With Purpose friends from the USA) and from the staff at two partnering organizations: Inspired Individuals and Tearfund.
- The successful training on business planning for VSLA and women’s groups in Chiang Dao.
- The successful training on human trafficking with Diakonia and other partners working on justice and human rights issues in northern Thailand.
We pray for:
- The Palaung network and Plant With Purpose as they organize a sports day for 12 communities. 3,000 people are expected to attend with the goal to build unity, fellowship, and advocate for the Palaung hilltribe people and the network.
- The successful partnership between Plant With Purpose and ECHO Asia as they provide training to government officials from Laos on integrated agriculture, upland farming, and seed management.
- Plant With Purpose staff, as we will organize Christmas outreach celebrations with partnering communities. Pray that God will be with the staff as they share God’s love and that people will open their hearts to listen to the Good News.
- The annual meeting and retreat for Plant With Purpose staff and family from December 20-22, 2013. The topic for this year is “Living and Serving.”
- The preparation for the health clinics that our women’s groups are planning for the community in January. Our hope is that this will not just be a physical check-up but that it will allow our women’s groups to demonstrate their valuable roles in their communities.
We praise God for:
- A wonderful 2013 as the program has continued to impact many lives around the world.
- Our fall interns! They have served Plant With Purpose with passion and dedication during this season.
- New contacts and connections that have been made during recent outreach events.
We pray for:
- Program officer Milmer as he travels this month.
- A meaningful Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus with friends and family.
- Our Christmas outreach events where we will be promoting alternative Christmas gifts and share with others the vision and impact of Plant With Purpose.
- Generous hearts during this season of giving.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We are deeply grateful for your partnership.
Gardens have a special place in our hearts here at Plant With Purpose.
When visiting our partnering programs around the world, proud farmers share what they are growing. They demonstrate how they’ve ingeniously grafted vines; they explain the mutual benefits of planting certain crops together; and they often walk us through the steps of creating organic fertilizers and pesticides.
Then the exciting stories start to come! We hear stories of selling produce at market to bring in an income, or earning a higher price for their grafted crops, or how costs are reduced by using resources on hand. This change in families’ financial stability allows parents to pay for school fees, make home improvements, and provide hearty meals for their children.
Today we spent time in a garden on U.S. soil. The International Rescue Committee has a number of community gardens around San Diego. In honor of Giving Tuesday, our interns, staff, and a few friends got our hands dirty.
Gardens are making a difference for families around the world. $50 provides the resources necessary for farming families to sustainably grow food and feed their children for an entire year. Would you join us in the garden today by making a donation? Gifts can be given here.
Hope you had a wonderful Giving Tuesday!
Today is World AIDS Day. Many will wear red ribbons as symbols of universal awareness and support of those affected by the disease. Today we stand in solidarity with the 35 million people worldwide living with HIV.
Last year, 1.6 million people died of AIDS. Of those deaths, 1.2 million occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, an area that includes two countries where Plant With Purpose works: Burundi and Tanzania. Tanzania was one of the countries most devastated by HIV/AIDS, and still suffers from a generalized, widespread epidemic.
Thanks to better access to medication, the overall health of HIV-infected Tanzanians is improving. However, the disease remains a primary cause of death among adults. And while AIDS victims now live longer, they are often sick and need extensive care over many years. An infected family member can break the finances of already poor families and lead to further poverty.
Plant With Purpose programs provide essential care to families impacted by the disease. Here are three ways our programs support those living with HIV/AIDS:
1. Bio-intensive farming
Put simply, bio-intensive farming is any farming method that produces a high crop yield from a minimal amount of land and effort. Techniques like double dugs and bag gardens help families grow the high quality, nutritious vegetables that are essential for people living with HIV. Even with the help of government-provided drugs, AIDS victims need a highly nutritious diet in order to see true improvement in their condition. Bio-intensive gardens produce more in a small, contained space and can be well maintained by someone with limited energy.
2. Community-based microfinance
Families impacted by HIV/AIDS are very vulnerable. A large portion of HIV victims are adults aged 15-49, often parents in the prime of their life. When mothers and fathers become sick, grandparents and children assume many parental responsibilities. The cost of caring for a sick relative is large and prolonged, so community-based microfinance groups (VSLAs) help families build a savings safety net. These savings groups also give farming families access to some basic insurance products through the groups’ built-in social fund.
3. Investing in trees
Each of Plant With Purpose’s 172 VSLA groups in Tanzania has committed to planting 10,000 trees over the next year. These trees are an investment that is particularly powerful for families impacted by illness. While AIDS victims may enjoy several healthy years, they will also suffer long periods of illness. A tree is an investment in the future that will pay off in several years, whether from fruit or timber. Trees also help reduce the time and distance that sick family members need to travel for firewood.
Today and every day Plant With Purpose stands with individuals and families impacted by HIV and AIDS. We give thanks that we worship a God of healing, and ask for His good hand of healing and comfort on AIDS victims around the world.
“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…” Ps. 103:2-4
Statistics from the UNAIDS 2013 Global Fact Sheet.
In the Dominican Republic, we give thanks for:
through sustainable development. The ultimate measure of our success is when a community no longer needs us. We are excited to announce that four communities are equipped and ready to “graduate” from Plant With Purpose programs: Juan Adrian, Los Mogotes, La Lomita, and Piedra Blanca. The community leaders of Piedra Blanca share, “We feel we have improved greatly. We have more economic stability, our businesses are larger, our spiritual lives have improved, and many people are committed Christians.”
by mobilizing churches and Village Savings and Loans groups to work alongside the government-sponsored national literacy campaign. Churches and VSLAs in more than 30 Dominican communities have become a platform for literacy. As a result, more Dominicans are coming to know God’s word in the 208 active home Bible studies with 2,982 participants.
In Haiti, we give thanks for:
Restoring productivity to the land…
by planting 1,945,529 trees and constructing 1,573 miles of soil conservation barriers, to date. To feed their families and earn an income, 85-90 percent of Haitians are dependent on what they can grow. Through sustainable agriculture techniques, such as erosion-control barriers, farmers are restoring the land and experiencing more abundant harvests!
such as pooling funds to buy livestock for starting small breeding businesses. This year, 16 groups have created new community-led, self-funded projects! Pastor Elizé from Beyanos affirms Plant With Purpose’s approach to development: “It does not give fish, but it teaches us how to fish.”
Civiné, a member of the Pila community group explains that the training she received in compost fertilizer “improved the yield of my crops, pepper and cabbage.” Through further training Civiné constructed erosion barriers to protect her land. Civiné’s community group also included Bible reflections that she says, “brought a lot changes for me; they permitted me to get good relationship with my neighborhood.”
Photo credit: AaronChang.com
A little over a year ago, Flora lost her husband. This tragic event would have left her with few options for raising her daughter, except for Flora’s involvement with Plant With Purpose in Tanzania. When she partnered with the program years ago, Flora began a life of self-sufficiency: growing vegetables, participating in a community-based microfinance group, and raising goats to sell their milk as a source of income. Her husband’s death left her grieving, but not without hope.
Today, her garden has opened the door for a successful business. Flora sells her produce at a local market and is attracting attention because they are grown organically.
You see, in Tanzania 98 percent of rural women depend on agriculture for survival. And something as simple as tools and a little training can making all the difference.
December 4 is Giving Tuesday, the day following the purchasing frenzy associated with Thanksgiving weekend. It is a chance to give back—either financially or through a donation of time—to things that matter.
For those of you who live in San Diego, we’d like to invite you to join our staff on Tuesday morning at the IRC’s New Roots Fresh Farm Community Garden in El Cajon, where we will be volunteering and helping refugee families grow their own food.
If you can’t join us, we invite you to financially give toward gardens—gardens like the one that has kept Flora moving forward. For as little as $50, you can provide parents the resources to sustainably grow food and feed their family for an entire year. Donations can be made here.
This season reminds us to be thankful that mothers like Flora are able to provide for their children. And we are thankful for you and the part you play in making this possible.
Giving Tuesday at New Roots Fresh Farm Community Garden
December 3, 2013 from 9:00-11:00 a.m.
203 Travelodge Dr., El Cajon, CA 92020
RSVP to Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org
With Thanksgiving nearing, many of us look forward to a table full of food and family. In this time of joyful expectation, Plant With Purpose is reminded of how thankful we are for more families growing more food to sustain themselves in Thailand and Mexico! Thank you for joining Plant With Purpose to support environmental and economic renewal in the developing world!
In Thailand, we give thanks for:
Empowering spiritual leadership…
during the Thailand Holistic Ministry Conference attended by 300 church leaders! The conference offered leaders an opportunity for growth and encouragement through sharing successes and challenges in their respective communities. Holistic Ministry focuses on restoring our connection with the environment and each other through relationship with God.
Expanding access to land…
by helping members of the marginalized hill tribe communities gain legal status. In 2013 alone, 606 marginalized hill tribe community members have received Thai legal status and can now access land because of Plant With Purpose’s efforts.
In Mexico, we give thanks for:
Gardens that feed families…
by increasing food production. To date, 707 families have been equipped to grow more food through family gardens, and over 100 new gardens will be established before the year’s end.
in Oaxaca where Plant With Purpose has constructed 37 large-capacity cisterns and 42 sophisticated wood-saving stoves. These technologies benefit families and communities by conserving local forests and storing water. This year, Plant With Purpose has expanded its production of fuel-efficient stoves and water cisterns by training 18 volunteer promoters in their production.
Natanel, left, with his wife, Amelia
For Natanel Contreras Ruiz, from the community of La Reforma, “Having a wood saving stove is a great advantage. My wife no longer has to breathe in smoke while she is cooking.” Natanel also grows a family garden and helped start a savings-and-loan group. He describes the outcome of his participation in Plant With Purpose programs, “I have seen my family’s income benefit. We did not have the money available to buy basic necessities and now I can purchase things like power for my house.” In the future Natanel hopes to expand his vegetable production and work as a volunteer promoter.
In this season of Thanksgiving, Plant With Purpose thanks you for partnering with us to serve and empower the rural poor!
This next series of blogs will focus on what we are grateful for in each of the six countries where Plant With Purpose programs are located, beginning with Tanzania and Burundi.
In Tanzania, we give thanks for:
Reconnecting people with God and the environment…
which is happening through the “Redemptive Agriculture” Bible study. This year, 84 churches, 69 schools, and even 2 mosques participated in this program.
Restoring productivity to the land…
by establishing biointensive organic gardens. 1,779 families are participating, and farmers report that their crop yields have increased by 64% on average!
Helping farmers save more money…
in the more than 170 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) groups that Plant With Purpose trains, supports, and oversees. VSLA groups provide farmers with crucial savings for emergencies and important capital for starting small businesses.
In Burundi, we give thanks for:
Families who are feeding themselves…
in a country that with the highest rate of hunger in the world-73.4 percent of the population is undernourished. By partnering with Plant With Purpose, 3,526 farming families have been given the tools needed to gain food security and improved nutrition.
as Plant With Purpose Burundi opened a new cassava flour processing plant this past summer. The business expects to benefit more than 150 cassava farmers through the purchase of raw cassava.
through the “Theology of Work” seminar in which 347 pastors and church leaders gained leadership development and theological training. One of the participants, Pastor Zacharia, said the seminar taught him how to develop and improve families, churches, and communities.
In response, Pastor Zacharia’s church decided to rethink the way that they use the 20 acres of land the church owns. The congregation concluded that they will begin planting bananas. Anyone from the community can now come and cultivate the land and benefit from the harvest!
After an extensive search, in which your prayers helped guide the process, we are excited to announce that John Mitchell started this month as Plant With Purpose’s Director of Field Operations. We are thrilled that John has joined our team, which will allow us to reach additional families in the years to come.
John brings a lifetime of international experience to Plant With Purpose. He is a citizen of New Zealand and the United States but feels at home in Pakistan, where he was born, and in Turkey, where he married and has most recently been living. John and his wife, Esra, have two children, Altan and Sophi Rengin.
John’s career as a humanitarian professional began in 1990 working with Afghan refugees in Pakistan and doing cross-border monitoring and evaluation. Since then, he has managed a range programs in the field: microfinance in Mozambique and Azerbaijan, rural livelihoods in Uganda, water and sanitation in Sudan, education in Pakistan and Ethiopia, public health in Burundi, and emergency response in these countries and others. Most recently, John served as the Africa Area Director for Save the Children. He speaks multiple languages, including Turkish, Urdu, French, and Portuguese.
John’s main focus will be providing supervision to the program department. We believe his proven expertise in program development will be an invaluable asset as Plant With Purpose continues to expand our reach and effectiveness through sustainable development programs.
Please join us in welcoming John to the Plant With Purpose family, and keep him and his family in prayer as they make this transition.
Plant With Purpose has been tracing a curve of exponential growth for some time. Worldwide we are now serving nearly 100,000 individuals in 331 villages. In the past year, we expanded our work in Mexico beyond Oaxaca into the state of Chiapas, where we have now established an office. From Burundi, we have also begun plans to start working across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most importantly, we have experienced tremendous growth in the communities in which we already work.
Click here to read more from executive director Scott Sabin.
Hunger to Harvest
How Plant With Purpose is Helping to Feed Families
Women in the Dominican Republic prepare food grown on their farm. Photo credit: AaronChang.com
Around the world, 870 million people go hungry each and every day–that’s one out of eight people. Poverty and hunger are deeply interconnected issues. Plant With Purpose focuses on helping rural farming families feed themselves in Tanzania, Burundi, and Haiti, our three hungriest program countries.
Plant With Purpose provides training, seeds, and opportunity to bring a long-term solution to hunger for families like Marko and Paulina Philip in Tanzania. Marko felt utterly defeated after five years of inconsistent rains and minimal harvests. He used the training he received from Plant With Purpose to better manage his land and in turn, increase his annual income. Now Marko can feed Paulina and their three children.
Read more about how Plant With Purpose is helping to feed families.
Gifts of Hope
This Christmas, you can help families change their circumstances. Plant With Purpose’s online Gift Catalog provides the opportunity to give the Gift of Hope to families in need on behalf of someone you love!
Read more about Plant With Purpose’s online Gift Catalog.
Village Spotlight: Pang Tuay, Thailand
Forced relocations have uprooted the entire community of Pang Tuay three times in the past 40 years and the threat of once again having to move remains. This constant instability creates disconnect between the people and forest; they are not willing to plant and care for trees on land that is only a temporary home. Plant With Purpose is working with the Pang Tuay community to increase their knowledge of environmental issues, community forestry, land rights, agroforestry, and replenishing streams with fish.
Read more about Pang Tuay and their hopes for stability.
Planting Hope Gala a Huge Success
The 2013 Planting Hope Gala was a phenomenal success with over $337,000 raised to invest in the lives of the rural poor! We are grateful to those who attended, and we are deeply humbled by your generosity, passion, and commitment to the work of Plant With Purpose. Thank you to everyone who made the night possible! A complete list of donors, volunteers, and sponsors can be found here.
You Shop, Amazon Gives
Amazon has rolled out a new service for conscious buyers, called Amazon Smile. Shopping on Amazon Smile is essentially the same as shopping on Amazon.com, except that 0.5% of all purchases through Amazon Smile will be donated to a nonprofit of your choice—including Plant With Purpose.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, GIVING TUESDAY
The day following the purchasing frenzy associated with Thanksgiving weekend comes Giving Tuesday—a day to focus on giving back either financially or through a donation of time. Be watching for an email from Plant With Purpose offering ideas on how you can participate in Giving Tuesday this year.
To read the latest Breaking News, click here.