Life is difficult and complicated - there are no easy fixes, but there are amazing people who soldier on in spite of setbacks and day to day struggles. Their faith is amazing and God is in their midst. Always a good reminder to me that you don't need "the stuff" to know God is alive!
On my most recent trip, I was in one of World Vision's project areas talking with people who had received gifts from our Gift Catalog. In most cases, the gifts - seeds, goats, cows, etc. made an incredible difference for the recipients. It's easy for us to write the $50 check (or put it on our credit card for the miles) - but for the people I met, it's been a life saver - literally.
Often, the poor aren't looking for a hand out (although there are certainly many who are), but most just need a little oomph to help them take the next step up out of poverty.
This is Maria who is 67 years old and lives with her two adult children along with their four children - AND six grandchildren whose parents (her children) have passed away. In 2001, she received four goats from World Vision. Those goats multiplied and and she was able to sell some to help pay for school fees and supplies for her grandchildren.
Then, all her goats died from a disease and she hasn't had that safety net to fall back on. Here, she's standing with her grandson, Stephen, 10 years old, who is a WV sponsored child. When asked if he's gotten any letters from his sponsor, he said no, but asked that we greet his sponsor and "let them know that I am happy here. I need a small bike, some shoes and a uniform." For all of you who are child sponsors, WRITE TO YOUR SPONSORED CHILD!
Aggrey (57) and his wife Eunice (50, don't you love the way she's holding my hand?) have an amazing story. In 2001, they received seeds from World Vision and Aggrey was trained in seed multiplication, crop rotation, irrigation and growing better crops.
Before he received the seeds and training from World Vision they were often out of food. "I didn't know anything about agroforestry and I didn't know that plants could add nuturients to the soil. Before we got the seeds, we were malnourished and were unable to send our children to school. We ate one meal a day (usally wild roots and fruit) but now we eat three to four meals a day and can eat meat once or twice a week."
With his skills, Aggrey became a lead farmer who trains other farmers to grow higher yield crops.
His success has allowed him to send four of his daughters to college (which is a rarity to send so many children to college - and to choose to send daughters is exemplary!). The trickle down effect is that his children will earn higher incomes, provide better nutrition and education for their chidlren, and soon that cycle of poverty will be broken for generations to come...simply from the gift of seeds.
Pretty amazing, isnt it?
Winifreda, above, is single (her husband left her 18 years ago) and she has six children 14 - 29 years old. She is standing in front of the garden she keeps where she received vegetable seeds in 2007 from World Vision.
"Before, we would eat only once a day and had no money to buy seed, so I was grateful to World Vision for the seed."
When she was able to buy seed, it was usually of poor quality and she said, "I would do my best but the results wouldn't be good enough for the work I did. Before I would only harvest 3-4 50kg bags of maize (corn), now I harvest 18-20 bags (with the WV seed)."
"Now my children are happy because they don't lack for anything."
Rachel (r) sitting in front of her house with four of her five children. Her family used to suffer from malaria on a regular basis but when she received mosquito nets in 2007, her children have not suffered from malaria since she got the nets. She couldn't afford to buy a net (that costs about $5) - and had to choose between buying a net OR buying food for her family.
When I asked to see the nets (to make sure they were hung correctly), they confessed that one of the nets was being used as a door (see below)! But that once the rainy season starts - when the mosquitos come out - they'll hang it over their bed. I just learned that even if the nets aren't over the bed, the chemical that is on the nets helps keep the mosquitos away and if there is 60% coverage, it will eventually stop malaria.
Here's the net being used as a door!
Amazing people - wonderful lives...and I am blessed to have met them. I know our paths will cross again soon!