For Leoni Karenzo, the land is everything. She is a farmer in the rural village of Muzye, Burundi. During the brutal civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes, Leoni escaped to Tanzania to find refuge from the violence. She returned five years later to her village with nothing but a small plot of land to rebuild her life and provide for her family.
Everything changed when she joined a Plant With Purpose community group. Plant With Purpose has renewed Leoni's hope and confidence by helping her restore her land. PWP's innovative, sustainable farming techniques focus on replenishing the land, improving the soil quality and production of crops. With Plant With Purpose's help, Leoni's small plot of land has blossomed into a variety of crops. The increased yields mean that Leoni can now feed her family and send her children to school.
Leoni is grateful for PWP's sustainable agriculture projects and the second chance they have given her and her family.
Miguel Herandez Castillo and his wife have recently had their first child, and through his partnership with Plant With Purpose Miguel has been able to provide for their growing family in ways he never thought possible.
Using loans provided by Plant With Purpose, Castillo has maintained his production of cocoa, advanced the construction of his home, and bought a motorcycle. Before, Castillo used agricultural techniques that were harmful for the land and the environment; now, Castillo has had training in sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture techniques that allows him to have a larger crop yield and increased income.
In addition to Castillo and his family, Plant With Purpose has increased the general knowledge and consciousness of the whole La Represa community about the management of the land and natural resources. Castillo says, “Our prayer is that God continues to bless Plant With Purpose and that His hand extends to those who need it the most so that the community continues to advance on the spiritual level as well as the material level.”
Through the trainings and skills provided by Plant With Purpose, Madam Venise has learned how to graft trees, build soil erosion barriers, and plant trees to take care of her land and the environment. She has also received microfinance loans and financial management trainings from Plant With Purpose to manage her small business.
Madam Venise explains the transformation this way: “It is a marriage between the environment and economic activities – if one doesn’t work well, the other doesn’t exist. It is with this relationship between the two that I can say, ‘thanks to my plantation, my economic situation has improved.’ With the training I received from Plant With Purpose, I understand many things now and this helps me begin a change from who I was before. I understand now that it is us who are responsible for God’s creation.”
The province of Oaxaca, Mexico is one of the most deforested places on earth. The barren hillsides are home to people trapped in a cycle of extreme poverty. Communities make a meager living by selling charcoal to city dwellers to use as fuel wood for cooking. Desperate to feed their families, the farmers cut down more and more trees on the dry hillsides for charcoal, destroying the land and further entrenching themselves in poverty and environmental degradation.
Over the years, Plant With Purpose has seen outcroppings of God’s love, particularly in the community of El Porvenir, which means “The Future”, as the villagers transformed their lives by planting trees, creating fishponds, and constructing cisterns to catch precious rainwater. Oaxacan women play a key role in the revival of their community by creating pine needle baskets and many other craft items, which the women sell in their local markets.
There is a difference in the attitude of the people, as evidenced by a sign at the entrance of the village that reads, ‘Welcome to El Porvenir, where there are opportunities. One farmer said, “With the help of our friends to the North, we now have hope. We are on our feet and producing things ourselves.”
Leni is living with AIDS. Abandoned by the husband who infected her and ostracized by her community, she is nevertheless bravely continuing to raise her children. Government-provided drugs are controlling the disease, but for lasting improvement, drugs must go hand in hand with improved nutrition.
Plant With Purpose helped Leni construct a “Bag Garden”, pictured on the right. A “Bag Garden” allows people to grow a lot of vegetables in a small space, it saves water, keeps pests away, and lasts about four years before it needs to be redone. In Leni’s case, the garden provides an additional source of income, as extra vegetables can be sold in the local market and provide much needed funds for school fees and books, medical bills, and other necessities.
For Leni, the bag garden is one of the things literally saving her life. Since starting to work with Plant With Purpose, Leni has put on almost 30 pounds and has hope for the future.
Mr. La Jongkham lives with wife and youngest son in the community of Huai Wai in Northern Thailand. In addition to his farming responsibilities, Mr. La Jongkham is struggling to care for his wife who suffers from a debilitating liver disease and whose survival depends on purchasing expensive medicines. The family’s legal status prevents them from accessing affordable health care, and Mr. La Jongkham and his family struggle to generate a steady income.
Since he began working with Plant With Purpose, Mr. La Jongkham has received training to help solve this crisis. This help has included advanced training in vegetable production, business development, and animal husbandry. The results have been very dramatic. As a result, his vegetable yields have increased significantly and he now has vegetables to sell for extra income. He has also been trained to raise pigs, catfish, and frogs, which are utilized for consumption and sale. Additionally, his family set up a small store with a fuel station where he sells about five gallons per week to his neighbors who have scooters. Even his son has learned to cut hair to make extra money to help his mom.
Mr. La Jonkham can hardly contain his joy over these new opportunities, saying, “I’m so happy to have the extra money to purchase my wife’s medicine! I am very motivated to see her healthy again. I never imagined we would be able to do these things, and to work so well together for the good of our family.”