Written by Plant With Purpose on September 16, 2010 in General
By Kate Nare
“Soy una quatro mexicana.” I’m a quarter Mexican. Yep, it’s true, despite my blonde hair, my fair skin, and my child-like Spanish vocabulary. But, it’s my heritage, and so it’s with great pride that I say happy Independence Day, Mexico!
Today, Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence, and I figured this would be a great opportunity to highlight our work in Oaxaca, Mexico and the freedoms the communities we work with experience daily.
Oaxaca is one of the most deforested and therefore poverty-stricken regions of Mexico. There is little rainfall, and during the dry season the steep, barren hills are dusted brown and desolate. The people make a meager living by selling charcoal to city dwellers to use as fuel wood for cooking. Desperate to feed their families, farmers cut down more and more trees for charcoal, destroying the land and further entrenching themselves in a vicious cycle of poverty and environmental degradation.
We have been working in Mexico for 11 years now. Starting small and building off of our successes, our Oaxaca program has really grown from the early days of working in two villages in one municipality to a thriving, multi-faceted program in 52 villages in six municipalities. In collaboration with our local partners, Misión Integral, we are currently working directly with 2,700 individuals.
We’ve planted nearly 422,00 trees and worked with farmers to establish 500 family gardens that provide families with improved nutrition and an additional source of income. Additionally, 696 micro loans, in the total amount of $83,833, have been granted to program participants to invest in their land and start small businesses. Or that 238 fuel-efficient stoves have been built to improve air quality, lower the risk of respiratory illness, and significantly decrease the amount of wood needed for cooking and heating.
In just eleven years, we’ve seen the economic stability of the region improve as communities work together to improve their land and diversify their income. We’ve seen families grow nutritious food in their gardens and even have extra left over to sell. We’ve seen parents able to send their children to school and we’ve seen entire communities transformed.
We are encouraged by testimonies such as Señor Raúl López’s of El Oro. Raúl told us about his community’s growing enthusiasm for Plant With Purpose’s programs: “When Plant With Purpose began these activities, some people said that even their great-grandchildren would not see these pine trees, but now they are seeing the results of their work and acknowledging that this work of producing and planting should be a permanent program. Just as we cut down wood and use it to heat our tortillas, we should therefore produce and plant trees.”
As our work continues to take root, we look forward to continuing to partner with rural Oaxacans to transform their lives and land, and experience freedom from extreme poverty.
Kate Nare serves as the Marketing Coordinator for Plant With Purpose. She plays an integral role in executing the company’s marketing campaigns and PR efforts. Kate also coordinates the annual gala and oversees the production of the company newsletter, The Sower.