Two of FRB's partners, Week of Compassion and Church World Service (CWS), support local Paraguayan partner Mingarã in the Chaco Region of Paraguay. Mingarã works with indigenous communities of the Chaco through assistance in accessing and securing ancestral land rights, promoting sustainable agriculture to provide food security and nutrition and facilitating access to safe water.
In March of this year I had the opportunity to spend time with the community of San Lazaro during a visit with Week of Compassion, CWS and Foods Resource Bank. Just days before Holy Week the visit brought to mind the Raising of Lazarus - miracles of Jesus which fill us with hope and life – as the inhabitants of the San Lazaro community, after decades of struggle, finally managed to move to a piece of land which is rightfully theirs.
A year after Beatrice received agricultural training in FRB’s DRC-Katanga-Kamina program, her situation has changed from desperate to thriving. Last year, her family of nine suffered when her husband lost her job and her youngest child fell seriously ill.
Members of her church helped pay the hospital fees, and things started looking up when a friend told her about a program that offered training in farming. The FRB program gave her hope because she saw it as a way to feed her family, earn a decent income, and gain reliable access to food, healthcare, education and other life necessities.
Bunthoeun, 45, his wife and their four children had a successful rice harvest in spite of last year’s drought because of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) he’d learned through FRB’s Cambodia-South program.
He also applied appropriate farming and poultry-raising techniques he’d mastered at the program’s hands-on Farmer Field School (FFS). The various new methods allowed him to provide diverse and nutritious food for his family, and he even had some surplus rice, produce and chickens to sell at the local market. With his newly acquired capital, he has been able to expand his rice field.
FRB’s program in West Africa responds with flexibility to the needs and vision of the communities involved. Students at various training events share what they’ve learned with their neighbors, so that everyone benefits.
For example, a recent community workshop focused on basic veterinary care for poultry, including vaccination. One woman who attended had previously lost many chickens to disease,
My name is Melecio Cantoral Gonzalez. I am 30 years old. I live with my parents, my wife and my two small children. We live in the community of Bella Vista, near Nueva Frontera in Honduras, in a small home made of adobe with a metal roof. It has a kitchen, a living room, and one small bedroom. My wife and I share our room with our children. Together with my family I farm a little more than 4 acres.
I walk about 30 minutes to get to the land I farm, which is on a steep slope. I grow mainly corn, red beans, and coffee. A couple of years earlier I started to plant other crops because of training I had received. I learned that I can’t support my family with just corn and beans and I learned other things, too,
From the 29th of November to the 7th of December, 2014, a group of nine from Foods Resource Bank (FRB) came to Nicaragua. For the majority, it was their first time visiting this land of beautiful nature and rich culture.
Does your desk, like mine, have a stack of year-end charitable requests? 'Tis the season to ponder again what causes best fit our values and which organizations will make best use of the checks we send. With both my time and money I try to balance local and global needs, looking to create opportunity rather than dependency. The surprise is that to the extent I choose and act wisely, I am changed. I get to glimpse the best in humanity, a gift beyond measure in these days when our worst seems always in view.
Perhaps it's part of my Iowa DNA, but much of my personal focus is on raising food, from our backyard garden and chickens to the fields of smallholder farmers around the world. I know how it feels to be in relationship with the soil, the rain, the sun and the seasons. And I've seen the faces and heard the stories of what it means to parents in Zambia and Laos and Guatamala to be able to feed their families. Dignity, hope and creativity are part of the harvest and provide good seed for the future.
The year in the humanitarian world? It ends with agencies scrambling to respond to another typhoon in the Philippines (luckily not as severe as last year's but still plenty worrisome), as well as bravely continuing work in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.
What 2014 has principally been, though, is a year of constant and churning problems, in which the challenges of climate change and food security (the availability and access to food) became more acute and ever-more clear.
After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday... we finally come to Giving Tuesday. It's simple and easy to get your credit card or check book out and make a donation. Lots of good work gets done with the strength of many small donations.
At FRB, our success is built on relationships. On long term commitments. On passion. On this Giving Tuesday I challenge you