Friday, May 28, 2010

Voices from Haiti

Plant With Purpose is responding to the catastrophic earthquake of January 12th with a relief and recovery project that is helping Haitians get back on their feet and giving them hope for the future. Plant With Purpose is providing emergency relief to victims and their families through road clearing, food and seed distribution, and a short-term employment project.

Edzer (not pictured) is a farmer from the Bwanef group who has benefitted from Plant With Purpose’s soil conservation program. He has worked with Plant With Purpose since 1997, and he says that the group has helped him with a lot of things. They have showed him how to protect his land with ramps, soil conservation, and many other techniques, as well as how to plant trees and create nurseries.

Following the January 12th earthquake, Edzer became involved in Plant With Purpose’s “Cash for Work” program. With the cash he is making from this program, he said he is able to get a bit of food to feed his family. Edzer says that planting trees and protecting the land is the most important thing he can do following the earthquake. In February he was given bean seed to plant, and he is already starting to see the first harvest!

“For those who support Plant With Purpose, I want to say a big thank you,” said Edzer. “I don’t know what will happen next, but we are waiting on God and we are thankful for all he has provided for us so far. Things could have been a lot worse for us.”

Three Ways you can Help Haiti:

>Pray that Plant With Purpose will be able to give an appropriate response to the needs of the victims of the earthquake, and for protection against any perils the rainy season may bring.

>Sponsor a Village in Haiti and help transform an entire rural community by empowering them to create economic opportunity and to protect their greatest asset, the land.

>Give to long-term Haiti recovery efforts at www.plantwithpurpose.org.

More voices...

Desire Toussaint'mem of the Davi group sells lotto tickets to support himself. Generally the lotto owner gives him 50 gourdes on every 500 gourdes he sells per day (500 Haitian gourdes=$12.42 US dollars.)

Madam Rigaud Pierre Louis is a farmer in Koray, Haiti who has benefited from Plant With Purpose’s soil conservation program. She also runs a business selling soap, notebooks, cream, and other products. Here, a client visits Madam Riguad at her business in the Blokos Market.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We Need Your Help! Vote for Plant With Purpose in the Humanity Calls Tournament

Looking for a way to show your support for Plant With Purpose? Please consider voting for our organization in the “Humanity Calls Tournament”. This is another fun and easy way for you to help us raise money for our programs.

We have 150 votes so far and we are in the top 30. Help us reach our goal of 300 votes!

Here is how it works:

1. Click here to enter the Humanity Calls website.

2. Click the yellow “New User Sign Up” button.

3. Create a free account.

4. Once your profile is set up, click the yellow “Browse” button and find Plant With Purpose.

You get one free vote just for signing up! Consider allocating 1 vote to Plant With Purpose, and then consider donating more, ($10 = 5 votes.)

Additional votes can be earned by donating directly to the tournament cash pool, which earns 10 votes for each $10 donated, or by referring friends via Twitter, Facebook, email, or the Humanity Calls widget, which earns 1 vote for each friend referred and registered.

At the tournament close, the top 30 nonprofits will share in the tournament's final cash pool - which starts at $50,000 but will grow exponentially thanks to your outreach efforts and donations!

Please feel free to Tweet your vote, or announce it on your Facebook page. The tournament ends on June 22nd, so the sooner you sign up, the better.

Thank you for helping us spread the word about Plant With Purpose and partnering with us to heal lives and landscapes among the rural poor.

-The Plant With Purpose Staff

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Go, Girl!

by Stephanie Rudeen

Empowering women in developing countries is a complicated issue. Lawrence H. Summers, during a presentation at the 1992 Annual Meeting of The World Bank, claimed that education was the key to the empowerment of women, claiming that the enormous economic benefits attached to investing in women’s education has the ability to eventually transform entire societies. Yet others, such as Anju Malhotra and Mark Mathers in their journal entry, “Do Schooling and Work Empower Women in Developing Countries” believe that more than just schooling and work is necessary to empower women in developing countries, and instead, there needs to be a complete restructuring of the familial, social, and economic organization.

Although I strongly believe that there needs to be a restructuring of social dynamics within developing countries in order for true female empowerment to exist, it seems like it is possible that the two could inform each other. Increased education and job opportunities don’t solve all the problems women face in the developing world, but they could lead to realignments in social and family dynamics in the future that could empower women from the ground up.

Summers argues that females in developing countries are trapped in a vicious cycle. Girls are not educated because they are not expected to make an economic contribution to their families. In turn, girls cannot make an economic contribution since they are not educated, and the belief is further instilled that they are incapable of working beyond the home. According to Summers, by increasing educational opportunities for girls there would be enormous economic and social benefits that could curb this vicious cycle.

I do believe education plays a large role in female empowerment, but it is much easier said than done for girls to start attending school and raising their sense of self-worth. That’s where positive female role models play an important part in female empowerment.

At Plant With Purpose, we empower women to become members of loan-lending groups as well as start their own businesses. Lucia Corporan of Los Mogotes in the Dominican Republic was able to start her own small business through the help of Plant With Purpose. Lucia has been the recipient of three loans that have helped improve her income, breed her growing herd of pigs, and start her own business. Lucia is just one example of women who become active and important figures in the community through the help of Plant With Purpose.

Although Lucia may not be leading a feminist revolution in Los Mogotes, she is serving as a strong role model for her children and for the many other girls in her community. Just one woman becoming empowered (although there are thousands more in the communities where Plant With Purpose works) can serve as a model for young girls to aspire to. While of course education is a key element in female empowerment, it all begins with changing girls’ views of themselves and their abilities. When young girls in developing countries see their mother or their neighbor or their sister working and becoming a part of the community and its economic and financial framework, they then can believe that they also have this power. Empowering females in developing countries starts from the ground up, and from there, we can all hope that the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer Internships!

by Corbyn Small
Plant With Purpose is recruiting for our summer internship positions! Each semester we have two internships that allow students the opportunity to spend 12-15 hours a week in our office experiencing the inner workings of Plant With Purpose's development department. These positions are typically filled by college students from USD, UCSD, PLNU, or SDSU during the regular school year. However, during the summertime many students who still live in San Diego return from colleges all over the nation and participate in our program. Our internships aren't just open to college students though, we welcome the college graduates to apply as well to start bolstering that resume!
Do you know any college students or grads who are interested in non-profits and international community development? We need individuals who are receiving their education in public relations, marketing, journalism, and creative writing. Below are the two job descriptions for this summers positions for Grant Writing and our Public Relations and Events internships. If you are interested, please send a cover letter and resume to corbyn@plantwithpurpose.org Please feel free to share this with others you think might be a good fit.
Grant Writing Intern
Summer 2010 May 31- September 15
Plant With Purpose, an environmental nonprofit organization that helps the rural poor through community development, seeks a Grant Writing and journalism intern for the spring semester. The intern will assist the Grant Writer with the following duties:
Responsibilities: -Researching potential foundations and grant opportunities -Writing letters of inquiry for funding and completing grant request applications -Managing grant funding opportunity database -Writing weekly blog posts Requirements: -Competent computer skills in Microsoft Office, Excel, Powerpoint and Word, Apple Pages, and Adobe Create suite a plus. -Excellent internet research proficiency -Adaptability -Creativity -Detail oriented and organized -Strong writing and proofreading skills -Good organizational communication -Preferably working toward a degree in non-profit management, fundraising, and/or, journalism -A heart for helping the poor -Knowledge/experience in Community Development a plus
Public Relations and Events Intern
Position Dates: May 31-September 15
Plant With Purpose, an environmental nonprofit organization that helps the rural poor through reforestation efforts, seeks a Public Relations and Events intern for the spring semester. The intern will assist the Marketing Coordinator with the following duties.

Responsibilities: -Seek out, write, and email proactive pitches -Write weekly blog posts -Compile and maintain lists of media contacts -Write and edit news releases -Post events to online calendars and websites -Help with book promotion -Maintain clip file -Proofread all documents and collateral -Support for annual gala planning, including local media efforts -Monitor HARO pitches and Google Alerts -Assist in maintaining social networking sites

Requirements: -Proficient computer skills- Microsoft Office, Excel, Powerpoint and Word -Basic knowledge of Dreamweaver a plus -Highly accurate and organized -Excellent writing and proofreading skills -Good communication skills -Preferably working toward a degree in public relations, marketing or a related field -A heart for helping the poor

Please send your resume and cover letter to Corbyn Small at corbyn@plantwithpurpose.org.

visit www.plantwithpurpose.org or www.plantwithpurpose.blogspot.com to learn more about Plant With Purpose’s work.
~~~~~

Corbyn Small serves as Plant With Purpose’s Outreach Coordinator. He cultivates relationships with donors, churches, artists and musicians to generate interest and enthusiasm for Plant With Purpose’s life-changing programs. He is also responsible for the volunteer and intern opportunities in the Plant With Purpose office. corbyn@plantwithpurpose.org

Monday, May 24, 2010

Something Smells Fishy…In a Good Way!

Tilapia ponds have made a big splash in Savanne Bombe, Haiti. Before Plant With Purpose began working with this community, farmers struggled to make enough money to feed their families, and the land was severely eroded. Now the communities are greatly benefiting from these fish ponds as an additional source of food and income.

Two members of the Savanne Bombe group, Anasias Fils-Aime and Jean Claude Decembre, oversee a thriving tilapia pond, which is about 14 feet across and less than 3 feet deep. They put 20 fish into the pond originally, but after two months the fish had reproduced and significantly increased their numbers.

“A while back we got together as a group to just talk about creating the ponds, but we never did anything. Now thanks to the support and guidance of Plant With Purpose we are doing things,” said Jean Claude while pointing at his pond and a garden of vegetables with small plants of carrots, bell pepper, beets, and cabbage. He also said that some people have never eaten, or even seen fish before! Anasias said that raising fish was mainly for consumption, but the investment was such that in the future he would like to sell the fish at the local market.

This community has also received training in composting, gardens, and organic fertilizers and pesticides. With the right tools and training, Savanne Bombe is well on its way to a sustainable aqua-culture system that will help the community to lift themselves out of chronic poverty.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Do you have to spend money to make money?

Paul Massawe, a farmer from the village of Masia Mamba, Tanzania, was spending too much money on his farm. His corn crop not only required excessive amounts of expensive fertilizer, but planting only one type of crop year after year was depleting his soil. Depleted soil meant he had to use even more expensive fertilizer to produce enough corn to support his six children. He was trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and environmental degradation.
With Plant With Purpose's sustainable agriculture training, Paul learned that he didn't have to spend money to make money. Plant With Purpose taught Paul which trees and crops to grow that require less water as well as help improve his soil. Now, Paul also grows green beans, carrots, onions, and kale, which are better for the soil and require less fertilizer. Through the help of Plant With Purpose, Paul has been able to reduce the operating cost of his farm while simultaneously providing added income and nutrition for his family. He has is now able to send his children to school, and he has begun building a house for himself and his family.
Paul says, “I am grateful for Plant With Purpose who has come to teach the villagers improved farming techniques and has given them a wider variety of crops for the land.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tending to Eden Named a Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards

We are excited to announce that Scott’s new book, Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God's People has placed as a finalist in the "Environment / Green" category of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Awards!

This contest shines a spotlight on books that demonstrate excellence in presentation and subject matter as it pertains to their category. Click here to visit the Indie Awards website, and see Tending to Eden listed under the “Environment / Green” category.

Have you read Tending to Eden yet? If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of Plant With Purpose’s mission, this book clearly outlines our work and offers a global perspective on the theological foundation for caring for the earth and its people. Throughout Tending to Eden, Scott recounts his personal journey of helping the poor and the environment and brings the reader into poor rural communities in Haiti, Mexico, Tanzania, Burundi, the Dominican Republic, and Thailand through compelling language and eloquent story telling. The book also includes a creation care study guide, which works great for small group Bible studies.

Help us spread the word about Tending to Eden by re-posting this blog post to your Facebook status! Or Tweet about it: Buy Tending to Eden, a creation care book, and a portion of the proceeds will go toward helping the rural poor: http://tinyurl.com/mh56xk (Visit our website to learn more.)

Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oaxaca Wednesday: Right As Rain

by Aly Lewis
With all the rain “El Niño” brought this year, it’s hard to believe we’re in a water shortage. But we are, here in San Diego and in many places around the world. In Oaxaca, Mexico recent drought has meant the loss of farmers’ crops, income, and livelihood. Already impoverished farmers are finding it even more difficult to feed and support their families. When I visited Plant With Purpose’s Oaxaca program last October, dead cornstalks and withered crop fields testified to the harsh drought and diminished harvests.
Today I’m happy to share with you how Plant With Purpose is teaming up with villages in Oaxaca to conserve water and improve their lives through a community cistern project. Plant With Purpose teaches communities how to build and maintain a cistern that collects and stores rainwater from a nearby roof. Families use the water primarily to nourish vegetable gardens during the dry season when there is otherwise not enough rainfall to raise any crops. This greatly improves families’ nutrition and income during the dry season. Families also use the water to wash dishes and clothes, to bathe and to drink.
I was going to tell you how great I think the cisterns are, but my friend, Don Claudio Hernandez, a farmer from the village of Monte Flor, can say it much better than I ever could. Listen to how Plant With Purpose’s cistern project has improved his life:
“This cistern has been a lot of help for my family. We do not suffer from lack of water. We have clean water all the time; I have shared water with my neighbors since it can get scarce in the community. They come to me and I share what I have. Many people asked me how did I construct the cistern, and I tell them “Plant With Purpose supplied the industrial materials and training, and we constructed and contributed materials we could find in the area.” They invited us to El Palmar, Nuxiño when we were constructing the first tank in this region. We went and saw how it was done.
This cistern has made people interested because they have seen the great benefit that it brings since it can store a lot of water compared with how we did it before. We used to use 200 liter drums or 20 liter buckets. Now we can store about 12,000 liters—for us this is a lot of water. We saw how it was constructed and it is very easy to build, so we don’t need masons.
We thank God for bringing people from Plant With Purpose to our communities, who help us improve our lives.”
To partner with Oaxacan families in this exciting project, click here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

San Diego is Bringing Back Fun Friday!

by Corbyn Small
Calling all San Diegans! Does anybody else think it is totally crazy that San Diego isn't a bicycling metropolis? Shouldn't there be more bicycles on the road than cars? I just read that our average high temperature in SD is 71 degrees and there are only 40 some days a year with a measurable amount of rain. That's 325 days a year that we could be starting and ending our day at work with a bike ride! It's a pretty darn sunny place (please reference exhibit A below).

Well, this Friday join Plant With Purpose in supporting San Diego's bike to work day!
Register here!

Here's some of the added benefits to biking to work:

~Exercise- Get healthy! Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise for adults between 18-65 years old per week. If your bike ride to work is at least 15 minutes, then that means you can skip that gym membership and just spend more days riding to work!

~Cost- Save money! Gas prices are spiking, heading upward as we come into summer. You can't pay less than $3 a gallon. That's not the only cost though... I don't even want to talk about car maintenance costs: oil, tires, air fresheners, transmissions, clutches, etc! Make your gas tank and your car's life last longer by giving it some time off from the daily commute.

~Environment- It's just plain better for our earth to have less cars on the road!
Hope to see you on the road on Friday! Let us know how far your commute is and how long it takes you to ride your bike! Mine takes me 40 minutes (the exact length of my favorite ipod mix) and is 10 miles on the dot!

~~~~~

Corbyn Small serves as Plant With Purpose’s Outreach Coordinator. He cultivates relationships with donors, churches, artists and musicians to generate interest and enthusiasm for Plant With Purpose’s life-changing programs. He is also responsible for the volunteer and intern opportunities in the Plant With Purpose office. corbyn@plantwithpurpose.org

Monday, May 17, 2010

Meatless Mondays

by Stephanie Rudeen
Nutrition is a vital component of Plant With Purpose’s programs in developing countries around the world. In Oaxaca, Mexico, one of the regions where Plant With Purpose works, a vast 76.9% of the population suffers from malnutrition and doctors estimate that as many as 90% of children younger than age five suffer from malnutrition due to the poor Mixteco diet. The devastating effects of malnutrition in children include stunted physical growth, arrested brain development, and inability of the body’s immune system to effectively combat disease.
We at Plant With Purpose are proud to share our school partnerships program in Oaxaca that helps spread valuable nutritional education and practice to children in Oaxaca. Plant With Purpose’s successful family gardens program has been incorporated into the curriculum of many of the local schools in Oaxaca. The family gardens project empowers women to set up family gardens composed of vegetables, medicinal plants, fruit trees, nitrogen-fixing trees, and small animals such as chickens, sheep, and rabbits. These family gardens diversify the family diet and help to reduce malnutrition among children. This successful and empowering program has now been applied to local Oaxaca schools through the creation of demonstration family garden plots.
Plant With Purpose has also teamed up with elementary schools to equip teachers to teach environmental education classes that supplement sustainable projects such as the family garden demonstration plot that the students can then implement at home. Students are taught how to grow a diverse supply of vegetables including onions, radishes, lettuce, chile, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, and squash.
Many Oaxacan children have now been able to improve their nutrition and become more prepared for the future. Plant With Purpose hopes that this program will help the children of Oaxaca pass down the legacy of Plant With Purpose to their own children, even after Plant With Purpose is gone.
While the children of Oaxaca are learning the skills to improve their nutrition and their lives, what can you do? Of course, this transformation was only made possible by the continuous help and support of donors who care about community development and environmental restoration. Yet, while we often preach about the importance of nutrition and a healthy diet for individuals and communities in impoverished countries, how often do we actually practice what we preach?
That’s why I’m excited to branch out on my own journey towards a healthier me—a journey that can be easily replicated by any of you! Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to cut out meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Deciding not to eat meat once a week lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong positive impact on the environment. Check out MeatlessMonday.com for more information!
I’m not a huge carnivore so I’m sure I will easily be able to overcome this challenge; yet, I view it as one step closer to a healthier me. Just as Plant With Purpose helps to transform lives in the communities where we work, try to take a moment and transform your own!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Visit to Fonds-Verrettes, Haiti

By Kathie Culhane-Pera, MD

The below article was written by a member of St Clement’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. St. Clements sponsors the village of Fonds-Verrettes, which is a part of Plant With Purpose’s Floresta-Haiti program, and Kathleen had the opportunity to visit that village on a recent trip. Here are some of her experiences.

I have just returned from Haiti where I worked as a medical volunteer at Leogane. Because our church congregation has joined funds to support Plant With Purpose’s community and agricultural development program in Fonds-Verrettes, I also visited Fonds-Verrettes.

I saw evidence that Floresta-Haiti is making a significant impact on people’s lives in Fonds-Verrettes. I met farmers in a field as they were planting trees and in a church building. I was able to hear some of their stories—and their testimonies about the importance of Floresta-Haiti in their lives. They said:

“M’aime Floresta. I love Floresta.”

“Floresta es m’manman, m’papa. Floresta is my mother and my father.”

“Floresta does not give me things, but has taught me to do for myself.”

“Floresta has taught me how to compost, how to increase the yield of my soil.”

“Floresta has taught me how to plant with natural fertilizers, graft trees, and raise goats.”

“Floresta has taught us to conserve our soil and decrease our erosion.”

“Floresta has taught us how to pool our money, and loan it to each other.”

“Floresta has permitted us to be a big family of 10 villages, united in preserving the land.”

“Floresta helps us partner together.”

One man quoted a Haitian proverb: “Men anpil chay pa lou. Many hands, the load is not heavy.”

Another man quoted a different Haitian proverb that supports this same idea:

“Yen sel dwet pa manje kalalou. Yen sel nou feb ansanm nou fo.

One digit alone cannot eat ochre. We alone are weak, together we are strong.”

Indeed, Floresta-Haiti and the people of Fonds-Verrettes are doing God’s work. But they cannot do it alone. The congregation at St Clement’s Episcopal Church in St Paul MN is committed to supporting them in their work. Together, we know we can do great things.

If you or your church are interested in sponsoring a village in Haiti, please click here to learn more.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bad Aid

by Corbyn Small
I wanted to take a second to talk about a topic that is not often discussed outside of the realm of the Aid and Community Development field: 'are good intentions good enough?' It is a touchy topic because there are so many people who have a desire to do something good for the 'less fortunate', either in their community or in a developing country, but do not have a lot of accessible ways to do so.
An example that has received a lot of attention on aid blogs and within community development organizations in the last two weeks is Jason Salder's campaign called '1 million shirts.' Sadler started a creative advertising company two years ago that was based on his ability to write well and market himself as a promotional opportunity to businesses around the globe. His company is called 'I wear your shirt.' Jason's most recent idea, '1 million shirts,' reached out to people across the United States, asking them to send him a t-shirt, and two non-profit partners would help him distribute these shirts all across Africa to those that do not have shirts.
On the surface it would seem that Jason has found a way to take his successful business idea here in the States, motivate people to do good, and take a chunk out of a major 'need' in Africa. But there's been a lot of push back from the development and aid community. The main question that I have heard and I think sums up the discussion is, 'since when has aid been about the donor?'
Who is identifying the needs of the continent of Africa in this situation? Is it a group of professionals whose career is community development, have studied effective aid, and have built relationships with local leadership in African communities to help them identify their own needs? Or is the focus of the 1 million shirts campaign about a very generalized idea that people in Africa do not have much and we should share what we have with them because we are more fortunate?
The fact is, the latter is true about much of the aid that has been given abroad, and there are major concerns of undermining local economies, giving things away that weren't asked for to begin with, using valuable capital and human resources to ship and distribute these items, etc. While good intentions are there for Sadler and many others, should we consider a thought that William Easterly, New York University economics professor, brings up about bad aid, "If a surgeon is about to operate on me, I'm not all that interested in whether he has good intentions. I hope he doesn't have evil intentions, but I'm much more interested in whether he knows what he's doing. People have a double standard about aid." As this example is coming to a close, Time.com covered the debate yesterday stating, "Donating clothing is a sensitive topic in Africa because many countries' textile industries collapsed under the weight of secondhand-clothing imports that were introduced in the 1970s and '80s."
Jason Sadler, has responded nobly to the immense amount of criticism he has received and has made changes to his campaign. He made a statement in his article, "Listening, Learning, and Shifting Focus" on his web page. Jason fell into a longstanding debate and struggle in the aid world, and in my opinion he has taken some very graceful and humbling steps to 'get it right.' At the same time, Sadler has possibly helped the rest of 'us' in the development world provide more teachable moments to those that we work with as we build advocacy and continue fundraising for our own programs abroad.
It is easy for those who work in the Community Development world to have a "snarky" attitude (as Bill Easterly himself says) toward those who have good intentions but are implementing technically 'bad aid.' For us here at Plant With Purpose we constantly come back to some form of this 'bad aid' debate, and our resolution is that as a Community Development organization we are not only committed to our field staff and program participants abroad, but equally responsible to our constituents and individuals here in the U.S. Our goal is to help develop trains of thought and understanding about how to make the most effective and beneficial impact in the lives that we are trying to help. There is a transformation that takes place as we learn from each other and figure out what we can do to empower the poor. Because after all, development is all about empowering individuals to identify their own needs and solve their own problems.
~~~~~

Corbyn Small serves as Plant With Purpose’s Outreach Coordinator. He cultivates relationships with donors, churches, artists and musicians to generate interest and enthusiasm for Plant With Purpose’s life-changing programs. He is also responsible for the volunteer and intern opportunities in the Plant With Purpose office. corbyn@plantwithpurpose.org

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Babies and Bright Beginnings

Miguel and his wife, Santa Nivar, of La Represa, Dominican Republic have experienced great transformation in their lives this year. Not only did they just have their first child, a beautiful baby girl, but through the help of Plant With Purpose, Miguel can provide for his new, growing family in ways he never thought possible! With the help of loans through Plant With Purpose, Miguel has been able to maintain his production of cocoa, improve his home, and buy a motorcycle.
Before, Miguel used agricultural techniques that were harmful for the land and the environment. Now, Miguel has had training in sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture techniques that allow him to have a larger crop yield and increased income! In addition to helping Miguel and his family, Plant With Purpose has increased the general knowledge and consciousness of the whole community in the management of the land and natural resources.
Miguel says, “Our prayer is that God continues to bless Plant With Purpose and that his hand extends to those that need it the most, so that the community continues to advance on the spiritual level as well as the material level.”
We at Plant With Purpose would like to echo Miguel's prayer for the community of La Represa, and we wish Miguel and his family continued health, happiness, and transformation. And thank you to everyone who has partnered with Plant With Purpose to sponsor a village like La Represa. Because of you, families across the world are experiencing new hope and bright beginnings.
To learn more about Plant With Purpose's Sponsor A VIllage program Click Here. For only $30 a month you can make a significant difference in the lives of the rural poor by helping to improve and support their communities. And every recurring donation will be matched for the first year; therefore this is an easy way to double your donation to be $60 per month and make an even bigger impact!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vote for Plant With Purpose in the Humanity Calls Tournament

A few months ago Plant With Purpose won $15,000 to plant 15,000 trees and 15 miles of soil conservation barriers in Haiti through the “Project 7 Challenge”. We are thrilled to report that these projects are now underway in Haiti, and this was made possible by your votes!

Plant With Purpose is now participating in another challenge called the “Humanity Calls Tournament”. This is another fun and easy way for you to help us raise money for our programs!

Here is how it works:

1. Click here to enter the Humanity Calls website.

2. Click the yellow “New User Sign Up” button.

3. Create a free account.

4. Once your profile is set up, click the yellow “Browse” button and find Plant With Purpose.

You get one free vote just for signing up! Consider allocating 1 vote to Plant With Purpose, and then consider donating more, ($10 = 5 votes.)

Additional votes can be earned by donating directly to the tournament cash pool, which earns 10 votes for each $10 donated, or by referring friends via Twitter, Facebook, email, or the Humanity Calls widget, which earns 1 vote for each friend referred and registered.

At the tournament close, the top 30 nonprofits will share in the tournament's final cash pool - which starts at $50,000 but will grow exponentially thanks to your outreach efforts and donations!

Please feel free to Tweet your vote, or announce it on your Facebook page! The tournament ends on June 22nd, so the sooner you sign up, the better.

Thank you for helping us spread the word about Plant With Purpose and partnering with us to heal lives and landscapes among the rural poor.

-The Plant With Purpose Staff

Monday, May 10, 2010

Videos from Haiti

We want to share some clips of our Plant With Purpose staff in Haiti and the farmers they have been working with before and after the earthquake that struck on January 12th of this year. A lot has changed for thousands of individuals who work and live in rural regions outside of Port-au-Prince. Household sizes have nearly doubled. Food scarcity, which was a problem before the quake, now puts families at greater risk of malnutrition. Issues of health, sanitation, and deforestation continue to rise as marginalized families struggle to survive. Despite the reports of destitution and poverty, there has been a very consistent theme throughout Haiti's arduous history; it is that Haitians are resilient and courageous and will pick themselves up, dust one another off, and continue living their day to day life. They will continue to help their communities rebuild, offer a hand to their neighbor, and look for ways to provide for their families.
In this video you can hear our Technical Director, Bob Morikawa, in the background as he surveys land in Martel, Haiti that is being prepared for planting season. Plant With Purpose has been able to employ 135 teams of 20 that have been working two week shifts to build soil erosion barriers that will protect trees and crops while helping to restore watersheds as well.
On the side of a Health Clinic in Cherident, a choir group practices for the upcoming Easter Sunday Service:
From the United States Plant With Purpose staff we would like to say to our co-workers in Haiti just how proud we are of your ability to respond as leaders in your communities. You are continuing to bring hope and opportunity to your neighbors and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Strength of a Community

By Tenaya Wickstrand, Plant With Purpose PR Intern

When our Executive Director, Scott Sabin, arrived at one of our program sites during his recent visit to Haiti, he noticed that our staff had taken makeshift tents and joined them together in order to make one long tent. This seemed to be a natural thing for them to do, as they didn’t want to be separated or to sleep alone; they created a place for everyone to sleep together with the security of being a community.

Another example of the Haitian’s interpersonal closeness, as Scott expressed, is that when people stand in line, they are so close they’re basically touching one another. This was amazing to me. I can’t imagine being in line and having the person behind me touching me, let alone me being that close to the person in front. Our culture has a different acceptable level of personal space; I’m sure I'm not alone in that feeling. But I was fascinated by how united the Haitians are, and I have to say that I do think we lack a bit of those community ties here in the United States.

In California, especially, we are private people. There is an unspoken need for individual space and privacy. People will even choose an isolated seat to avoid sitting right next to another person in a movie theatre, a restaurant, or elsewhere. We even protect our personal privacy with laws.

As Haiti exemplifies, this privacy tendency we share in the United States is not shared in other parts of the world. In 2008 I studied abroad in Italy and had a glimpse of how close everyone is in the Italian culture. I was in a “ristorante” one night observing the way the hostess seated customers and noticing how very different it was from home; I asked our server about it. He told me that in a restaurant in Italy people are seated in tables right next to each other, even if the entire place is empty. This was because Italians like feeling related to one another, even in a restaurant with people they don’t know. This stood in stark contrast to the American way where the two tables of people would have been seated as far apart as possible.

This connection the people of Haiti have has helped them in dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake. A recent LA Times article explains that, "Haitians rely on their communities to survive. They borrow money from neighbors, share food, watch one another's children, and sell things they pick up in the central markets."

Plant With Purpose is connected with Haiti and the communities where we have programs. I think we can apply this feeling of being part of a family to our work everywhere. The closeness of the connection helps us understand other people's ways of life and to realize the group mentality they have can be quite an asset. At Plant With Purpose, we talk about involving ourselves and understanding the way each community operates. In order to achieve this, we need to strip ourselves of our individualistic mindset and be open to sharing and connecting with the people and countries where we work.

Plant With Purpose seeks to do just that. In Haiti we work side by side with the local farmers. We get to know them as individuals but also as a part of their community. This direct involvement has aided our success in Haiti and the many other countries where we operate. We teach them, but they also teach us.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mighty Mothers Around the Globe

by Stephanie Rudeen

I would like to thank all the mothers out there who have inspired their children, offered support, let their children experience life, and even kissed their boo-boos when they tried to jump off the top of the climbing tower, straight onto the cement sidewalk below (thanks, mom). And to celebrate the one day when mothers finally receive the attention they deserve, I would like to think about the mothers everywhere, especially in the countries where Plant With Purpose works.

I wrote a previous blog post about maternal health and the astonishing amount of women who die each year during pregnancy. Maternal health proves especially harmful and fatal in the impoverished countries where Plant With Purpose works, such as Africa. Although I do not want to detract from the global epidemic that is maternal health, I have some good news for all the mothers, and sons and daughters, in the world, especially those in Tanzania and Burundi – new data shows that maternal deaths are declining throughout the world!

In a recent New York Times article, “Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe,” researchers have found that the maternal mortality rate has dropped from 526,300 in 1980 to 342,900 in 2008. Although this is still a significant number, it gives hope that maternal health is finally receiving the attention it deserves, and eliciting appropriate action.

There are a number of reasons for the drop in maternal death rates, including “lower pregnancy rates in some countries, higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care, more education for women, and the increasing availability of ‘skilled attendants’ – people with some medical training to help women give birth,” according to the article.

The bad news, though, is that Africa still has the highest maternal death rates in the world. As more mothers all over the world have the health, knowledge, and resources they need to have a healthy pregnancy, there are still women all throughout Africa who die every day giving birth.

I don’t even know what kind of person I would be without the guidance and support of my mother, and I’m sure people all over the world feel the same way. The decline of the maternal death rate brings hope to millions of mothers all over the world, but don’t forget those mothers out there who still need help from people like you. Help Plant With Purpose bring hope to moms in Africa who need it the most. With improved income, improved nutrition, access to clean water, education for children, and spiritual growth, women everywhere can experience a long, happy life.

Consider planting trees this Mother’s Day to honor your mom, and help reforest Mother Earth. Visit our website by clicking here: http://www.plantwithpurpose.org/page/24/trees-please.html and choose to plant a tree, an orchard, a hillside, a grove, or even a forest. Entire communities will be changed in your mom's honor! Now that’s an incredible gift.

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