Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Plant With Purpose Celebrates 10 Years in Mexico

by Aly Lewis

It seems like we’ve been celebrating a lot of spectacular milestones lately: Plant With Purpose now has 25 candles on its b-day cake, our Programs Director is ringing in his 11th year tomorrow (woohoo Armando!) and I am coming up on my 1 year and 10 month anniversary as Plant With Purpose’s Grant Writer. Alright, alright, that last milestone is not significant, but what is exciting is that we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary of working in Oaxaca, Mexico!

And what a great ten years they’ve been! 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 47 villages in six municipalities. In collaboration with our local partners, Misión Integral, we are currently working directly with over 1,500 individuals.

Some of you like numbers; surprise, surprise, creative writing major that I was, I prefer the stories, the anecdotes, the little sketches of changed lives. I could tell you that we’ve planted over 386,561 trees across 35 acres of land and worked with farmers to establish 454 family gardens that provide families with improved nutrition and an additional source of income. I could tell you that 566 micro loans, in the total amount of $70,813, 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.

I could tell you all of these snazzy numbers, but they wouldn’t tell the whole story. At Plant With Purpose, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. (Insert corny joke about holistic ministry here) In just ten 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 the next ten years of partnering with rural Oaxacans to transform their lives and land. Stay tuned for more highlights from our Oaxaca program—like our exciting new Church, Community, and Change project that equips local churches to meet the needs of the community—as part of our 25th Anniversary blogging series.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Plant With Purpose and Misión Integral!

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