Plant With Purpose: Up Close and Personal

Written by Plant With Purpose on August 1, 2011 in General

by Aly Lewis

It’s hard to love someone you’ve never met. I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately and how it particularly pertains to Plant With Purpose. I mean, it’s hard to knw exactly how to love the rural poor if you’ve never met a Burundian or Oaxacan farmer entrenched in poverty. It’s hard enough to know how to love your mother or brother or spouse or roommate or someone standing right in front of you. Even I, as a seasoned Plant With Purpose writer and employee, often feel like the people we serve become this distant entity, a group of “thems.”

But luckily it doesn’t stay that way for long. I get to visit the programs, or listen to my coworkers talk about their recent trips to the field, or I get to work on reports and updates where I have the privilege of sifting through life-changing testimonies galore from individuals in our programs.

What’s more, I’m constantly reminded that even if I haven’t had the chance to meet each farmer and family we work with personally, our local staff members do know, really know, the farmers with whom we work.  They know them by name and plot of land and the ways they’ve spent their loans.  They know how many children they have, which hillside farm is theirs, and what weekly Bible study group they attend.  

My hope is that as a grant writer and blogger I can share stories and testimonies with you that will help turn the “thems” into individuals with hopes, dreams, and challenges just like you and me.

So in this vein, I’d like to introduce you to Arnulfo Morales from the village of Montefrio in Oaxaca, Mexico. Below is a summary written up by Milmer Martinez, Mexico Program Officer, of his time spent with Arnulfo on a recent trip to Oaxaca.

Arnulfo has worked with Plant With Purpose since 2009. His wife, Adriana Hernandez, and her mother, Candida Hernandez, are members of the women’s revolving fund group. They supplement their income by buying bread and sodas to sell for a profit. They are able to buy the merchandise thanks to the credit and savings they’ve earned in their savings group the last 10 months. Currently they are partnering with us to construct an ecological bread oven, so they can make their own bread instead of buying it.

Arnulfo and Adriana live on six acres of land with their three young daughters (two pictured to the left), where they grow pumpkin, corn, and beans to serve as both their main food source as well as income from the sales. They participate in our sheep and chicken projects, which has allowed them to greatly improve and diversify their nutrition.

“We have eggs and meat right now,” said Arnulfo.

Arnulfo has experienced great improvement and transformation in his life as a result of a partnership with Plant With Purpose. He says the most significant factor in this transformation has been the increased availability of water he has experienced since installing a cistern with five other families.

“This cistern allows us to have water for the greenhouse year round, allowing us to harvest year round.” The cistern was full at the moment of my visit, and the group was also harvesting tomatoes from the greenhouse. He told me he is able to sell 25% of both his corn and beans for a profit, his wife contributes with the bread and drinks she sells, and they are also able to sell the tomatoes and eggs in the market.

He also told me he had worked in the United States for several years at a wood mill company. He was able to send and save money, but decided to return to Oaxaca to be with his family. With the savings he brought back he was able to buy his new property and build his house.

When I asked him if he would have migrated if he had had the chance to work with Plant With Purpose, and he said “of course not.” Arnulfo is currently one of 25 promoters that work with Plant With Purpose and are being trained to become our agents in their communities and region.

I hope this testimony gives you a small glimpse into the lives of the farmers and families with whom we partner, and the unique ways our programs impact the lives of individuals around the world.

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