By Becky Rosaler
A trip to the Dominican Republic means that you’re going to be welcomed with open arms and open hearts. The culture is one of bright colors, fast beats, and a lot of time spent with friends.
This past month, two partnering churches from the U.S. visited the Plant With Purpose program in the Dominican Republic. On our second day, we spent time at a Village Savings and Loan Association in the community of El Aguacero. We were in for an experience unlike any other visit to a VSLA group as the Dominican staff called them the dancing group.
The reception we received consisted of loud cheers, a standing ovation, and much laughter.
These 42 women make up the Mujeres Sin Límites (Women Without Limits) Village Savings and Loan Association. Women Without Limits—an apt description of this room full of women who are making a better future for themselves, their families, their community, and their country. The meeting was committed to the Lord in a time of prayer.
They have used loans to invest in education, develop small businesses like beauty parlors, and provide basic needs for their families.
With pride, they walked up one by one to purchase their shares for the week. A total of $250 U.S. dollars were saved that afternoon.
The obvious way to celebrate this accomplishment was through song! The entire group stood to their feet, pulled out their instruments, and sang about saving for a better tomorrow.
With God’s help, these women are accomplishing great things. I can attest that there truly is no limit to what these women are going to accomplish in the years to come.
What sets your dad apart? Is it his protective nature? His nurturing side? His strength? His overwhelming love for his children? Plant With Purpose partners with fathers around the world who strive each day to provide strong, healthy futures for their families. We are celebrating dads across cultures this Father’s Day.
A dad expresses the importance of saving during a Village Savings and Loan Association meeting in Burundi.
A father stands with the tool of his trade outside the family’s house in the border region of Dominican Republic and Haiti.
A dad stands tall and proud with his family in Haiti.
The future is in the hands of this father in Mexico.
This grandfather’s eyes shine with pride as he stands by his daughter and grandchildren amongst the fruit of their family garden in Tanzania.
This dad is learning about fuel-efficient stoves in Thailand.
Uphold the values that your father has instilled in you and thank him for the protection he has afforded you. Honor him this Father’s Day by giving a gift that will help empower fathers around the world, who strive for the same things your dad aims to accomplish.
Give the gift of economic opportunity. A donation of $50 will provide training and materials for one savings and loan group member in a rural community around the world.
Now that’s something dad can be proud of!
This summer we are blessed to have an office full of interns who are passionate about the work, mission, and vision of Plant With Purpose. Below, they share a little about themselves and what has drawn them to partnering with Plant With Purpose over the next three months. Please help us in welcoming this amazing bunch!
As we launch into summer, fields across the world continue to grow. Please keep Plant With Purpose’s farming families and staff in prayer during this busy time of year as they depend on the Giver of all good gifts for water and produce.
The first Friday of each month, the international Plant With Purpose family sets aside time to pray over our programs. Join us.
We praise God for:
-The healthy birth of Gerard’s newborn baby. We are pleased to add a new member to the Plant With Purpose family.
We pray for:
-The month of June is the end of our fiscal year, where we will be evaluating our annual goals. Pray that we will learn useful lessons for the coming fiscal year.
-The launch of a new cassava processing initiative, which will allow for the cassava to be more marketable and for farming families to earn more income through their hard work.
-Peace and security in our country.
We praise God for:
-His protection and blessing for the communities who have launched Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs).
We pray for:
-God to bless the literacy project starting in Quisqueya. Pray that the students will have the motivation to learn how to read and write.
-God to give us wisdom as we continue to expand the VSLA program into additional communities.
We praise God for:
-The safe and fruitful visit that St. Clement’s Episcopal Church from Minnesota had with community members from Fonds-Verrettes.
We pray for:
-Sufficient rain this spring so that the farmers can absorb short-term losses that occurred because of Hurricane Sandy.
-A smooth end to the fiscal year.
-Additional opportunities to serve families and communities in the upcoming fiscal year.
We praise God for:
-The family gardens project. In the past year, 140 families have benefited the start of chicken projects, which provide nutrition and income through egg production.
-Our new staff member, Laura, who is joining the Plant With Purpose team as our information officer.
-Our staff member Jorge and his completion of a certification in conservation agriculture.
We pray for:
-Timely rains for the recently planted field so that farms and orchards will bear fruit.
-Local churches to continue to promote the stewardship of creation in their communities.
-The children participating in our ministry activities. Pray that the values instilled through these programs will help them to bring about change in their communities.
-The governing officials at the local and state levels. Pray that they will govern fairly and with wisdom.
-God to grant our team member Carlos and his family strength as he recently lost his mother-in-law.
-The health of our staff and their families.
We praise God for:
-Blessing us with a spirit of unity and teamwork.
-The creativity that led to the idea of a group competition, which is motivating farmers to plant trees and improve their farms. The results in the field have really taken off.
We pray for:
-The work of tree planting that we have been doing this year—that it will bring positive change and sustainability to the communities where Plant With Purpose is working.
-Organic vegetable production and market access within the country. Pray that Plant With Purpose farmers will be the key to its success.
-Community members’ readiness while forming new savings-and-loan groups.
-Community members in the low-lying areas of Kileo, which were affected by flooding earlier this month. Pray that their situation will improve soon.
We praise God for:
-The successful meeting of a Holistic Ministry conference for more than 200 church leaders and pastors. Best practices were shared from local churches who are reaching out to their communities in various ways. This provided inspiration and encouragement to other churches. Please continue praying for churches to respond to the needs of their communities.
We pray for:
-Farmers and their preparation of fields for their next crops. Many farmers are integrating the ideas of agroforestry and soil conservation. Pray for our staff to be able to provide assistance and guidance to these farmers.
-Pray for the VSLA groups and that God will help the facilitators and our staff have wisdom in helping groups function well.
-Pray for staff visits to partnering communities.
-Pray for the organizations involved in an upcoming workshop on environmental rights and climate change.
We praise God for:
-Our summer interns as they adjust, settle, and serve through Plant With Purpose over the next couple of months.
-Safe visits to the field as staff is returning from Mexico, Tanzania, Burundi, Haiti, and Colombia.
We pray for:
-The Vision Trip to the Dominican Republic with The Father’s House Church (San Marcos, CA) and WaterStone Church (Littleton, CO).
-A strong finish to the fiscal year.
-The process to complete our website update.
-Our current staffing needs as we look for a Director of Field Operations to join the team in San Diego.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We are deeply grateful for your partnership.
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” — Billy Graham
Father’s Day provides us with an opportunity to honor our fathers and to thank them for their love and support, and the future they have helped us assemble. Fathers all around the world work tirelessly to bestow happiness and posterity upon their children. One of our partnering farmers, Fedner Rochette, is a Haitian father of two who invests in his children’s future by tending to his land and restoring his environment.
He says, “I had a piece of land to buy, but my money was not enough. I got a loan for $375 (USD) … and I bought it. When I buy a piece of land, it is a permanent asset … for the future. I received trees [from Plant With Purpose] and I planted trees in the piece of land that I bought. Now, I have a plot of trees. It is a good hope for tomorrow.” Fedner now has a savings account set aside that helps him provide for his children’s well-being—food, medicine, and school fees, even in periods of adversity.
Plant with Purpose has taught him “how to graft, to build anti-erosive barriers, to make compost, to plant trees.” He says, “Now, because my pieces of land are protected, the erosion is stopped. I [receive] better yields from my crop” and can feed my family.
This Father’s Day, take time to let your father know how important he is to you. Download our Father’s Day Card to let him know his love and support have not gone unnoticed. And in expression of your thanks, honor your father by giving the gift of opportunity to one of our partnering farmers.
Your gift of Sustainable Microfinance will help provide loans that contribute to the happiness, health, and futures of families around the world by creating opportunities for fathers to invest in the well-being of their land, their homes, and their families.
Happy Father’s Day!
Plant With Purpose has worked in Mexico since 1996, so we are starting to see the effects of a generation of parents who wanted a different future for their children. Jorge is an example of a brighter tomorrow, so as June roles around—a month full of caps and gowns, diplomas, and Pomp and Circumstance—we’re celebrating his graduation!
While growing up in the community of Rio Garza, Jorge started to observe the changes that Plant With Purpose’s presence was having on his neighbors and friends. Larger crop yields, a consistent source of water through the newly built cistern, and greater financial freedom appealed to him. Jorge encouraged his parents to participate in these programs, and they began a family garden, fertilized it with organic compost, and planted trees. Jorge also encouraged his parents to help him attend university.
At university, Jorge studied conservation agriculture. Recently, he received his degree. The most encouraging part of Jorge’s story is that he is now employed full time by Plant With Purpose! Jorge spends his days consulting local farming families on how they can integrate the sustainable farming techniques that he studied in school.
While sharing about a water project in Santa Cruz Mitlatono, another community that partners with Plant With Purpose, Jorge said, “We are planning to attack the problem from the root. Otherwise, there will be a problem of drought over and over again. … We know this won’t be in the blink of an eye. The focus is on the future.”
Just a few years prior, Jorge’s focus was on his own future. Today, we celebrate the way he is focusing on the future of entire communities.
Plant With Purpose’s Burundi program is integrating a new collaborative strategy for teaching and learning—the Farmer Field School.
This past fall, the Giremwete Farmer Field School had its first test run. The association of 33 farmers met weekly with the goal of testing new farming techniques. The first “experiment” consisted of two acres of land, some beans, and four different ways to fertilize the crop. They quartered off the plot: one section had no fertilizer, one used a chemical fertilizer, one used organic fertilizers, and one had a mix of chemical and organic fertilizers.
The lesson learned was that some form of fertilizer was necessary to produce the largest crop yield. And farmers decided their best bet was to continue using organic fertilizers to provide nutrients for their crops.
Today on World Hunger Day, Plant With Purpose is walking alongside smallholder farmers as they work together to discover the best ways to improve their livelihoods, provide better nutrition for their families, and increase the opportunities for a better tomorrow for their children and communities.
The Farmer Field School—a simple experiment, a clear outcome, a change of perspective, and a success in learning.
Image: Group of farmers in Burundi representative of the Giremwete Farmer Field School
Just when we started to miss the clever words and voice of Aly Lewis, our former staff writer, she posts a reflective piece that embraces Plant With Purpose. Check out her blog, Memoirs of Algeisha, where this was originally posted and is shared with her permission. Aly, may you continue to be planted with purpose during your adventures in Guatemala!
Today I want to share a poem by one of my favorite poets who doesn’t happen to be T.S. Eliot, but Luci Shaw.
We’re on the cusp of the rainy season here in Guatemala. Last week, a thick, smoky haze settled over the sky from the pre-harvest burning of sugar cane fields over on the coast. Some days, the clouds roll in and spit out a little water, but the real downpours, the real rain-everyday-until-everything-you-own-is-moldy season hasn’t started yet. But it’s coming, it’s definitely coming.
We’ve just planted new flowers in our garden, confident that they’ll thrive and bloom with the rains to come. I think of the seeds I want to sow in my own life–the seeds of friendship and growth and hope–and ache to be confident that they will bloom into full-fledged flowers, too.
And I was reminded of this poem, Evergreen, by Luci Shaw. It’s actually a Christmas poem, about a tinsel-strewn Christmas tree and piney-scented evergreens. But she writes a phrase that rings through me here on the cusp of planting season: planted with purpose.
I’ve done a lot of work with an organization called Plant With Purpose. In fact, I was a part of the team that helped come up with the name. I’ve punned and alliterated the heck out of that phrase. But I had never once thought of myself as the object being planted with purpose.
I’d never thought of the phrase in the context of Jeremiah 17:8:
“They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Or Psalm 1:3
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers.”
Without further ado, here’s the poem and an invitation to ponder what it would mean for you to be planted with purpose, tapping in to the water of life, and bearing the Spirit’s sweetest fruits. Enjoy.
with an earthbound angel,
with man-made stars,
but touched with no
why be a temporary tree,
When you may be
planted with purpose
in a flowered field,
living in clean light,
crowned with gold
of every evening
real stars may nest
in your elbow,
be found in your shade,
in your perennial green,
and from deep springs your roots
may suck enough to swell
the Spirit’s sweetest fruits.
Taken from Luci Shaw’s, Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation.
It’s transition time again in the office as we move from our spring to summer interns. Last week, Annie Battles put this post together. (Annie, we’ve loved becoming part of your story, and we’re so thankful you’ve become part of ours.)
Today is my last day as the spring Development Intern at Plant With Purpose. What a ride it’s been! And what a way to end the season—with a hope-charged celebration of partnership and development at the Growing Stories event.
If you missed the event (or even if you joined us!), we want to share this recap with you.
Growing Stories celebrated a new partnership between Plant With Purpose, Sundance Organics, and world-class surf photographer Aaron Chang. In March, this crew traveled to visit Plant With Purpose program sites in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
On May 11, Aaron opened his Solana Beach gallery to display images he captured from their time in partnering communities. The faces of Plant With Purpose farmers, delicate details of village life, and dramatic scenery of this Caribbean island lined the walls.
Wooden crates of Sundance citrus, fresh-squeezed juice, and a potting table carried the theme of the evening throughout the gallery.
Aaron Chang shared about seeing the despair in Haiti but how the long term, hope-filled work of Plant With Purpose inspired him. The impact of witnessing this hope-based development work moved him to say, “Plant With Purpose has a new spokesperson, whether they like it or not.” Aaron, we’re thrilled! Erika, great party!
Bill Hahlbohm, owner of Sundance Organics, has been a long-time supporter of Plant With Purpose and is excited to see even more lives impacted through the Buy 1/Grow 1 campaign.
Attendees left with citrus seedlings, bags full of oranges, tangelos, and pomelos—and a fueled desire to help support the efforts of farming families working to grow their own fruit trees.
We are grateful for your support, and we are grateful for those who turned out to make the event such a special evening.
Photos by Todd McWethy, Jimmy Lee, and Becky Rosaler
This month we take to 2 wheels in celebration of National Bike Month. May showcases the bicycle, the world’s most widely used and economical mode of transportation. Riding your bike doesn’t have to be a thing of the past, use tomorrow to make cycling a bigger part of your future.
Friday, May 17 is Bike to Work Day, so inflate your tires, polish those rims and hit the streets! Rides and events are taking place all across the country to embrace a collaborative environmental consciousness that promotes wellness and social awareness. Since the largest source of air pollution in the U.S. comes from automobiles, consider adopting cycling into your commute and reduce the 3.6 pounds of pollutants per mile emitted to the atmosphere by cars. Charles M. Shulz said, “Life is like a 10 speed bicycle, most of us have gears we’ve never used.” Plant With Purpose wants to encourage all of us to explore the “gears” not used, and together we can support a healthier environment.
Be safe. Have fun. Check out these links:
Bike safety and maintenance:
ABC Quick Check
Make sure you’re following the law:
Rules of the Road
San Diego Resources:
Register and be entered for raffle prizes, check out businesses that are hosting Pit Stops, learn about taking public transportation for free at iCommute.
Image of a boy riding his bicycle in Burundi. Originally posted May 2012.