Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oaxaca Wednesday: Building a Better Life

by Aly Lewis

With Plant With Purposeʼs help, the people of Ojo de Agua are literally building a better life for themselves and their families. Community members have joined with Plant With Purpose to install a carpentry shop to manufacture furniture. Now, what on earth does a carpentry shop have to do with restoring the environment and lifting people out of poverty? A lot actually.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with an innovative group of five men—all related—who are now making diverse, quality pieces of furniture that they can sell in the community to supplement their income. With the goal of simultaneously providing vital income sources and decreasing the family’s environmental impact, Plant With Purpose provided eight weekly sessions of professional carpentry training to this hardworking family. The family contributed 40% to the cost of the

professional machinery, and it has been well worth the investment. Selling firewood or other types of unprocessed wood provides little return on investment, forcing farmers to cut more trees or undergo the harmful process of making charcoal to feed their families. A nice piece of furniture can be sold for $100—much more than the $8 for a bundle of charcoal.

Unlike the smoky haze, dirt, and grime of charcoal making,

the shop was clean and orderly, a safe, healthy place to practice a craft. For Edén Miguel López, the youngest of the relatives, the carpentry shop has been a dream come true. Edén beamed with pride and gratitude as he shared that he had “dreamed of becoming a carpenter since I was a little boy.”

Edén and his hardworking family is an inspiring example of the innovative ways people are teaming up with Plant With Purpose to utilize their resources and talents to transform their communities.

Edén and his family have also started an agroforestry farm with Plant With Purpose's help.

Eduardo, Plant With Purpose staff member, explains how the project provides vital jobs and quality wood products to the community. It was probably a good thing their newest armoire wouldn’t fit in my duffle bag…

1 comment:

  1. I was so impressed with the quality of their furniture and how much pride they had in their work. What an inspiring story of transformation!


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