2015 International Meeting Recap
Written by Plant With Purpose on March 3, 2015 in General, News & Events
Thank you for joining us in prayer for the 2015 International Meeting. It was a productive and encouraging week together! This every-other-year event allows Plant With Purpose’s international directors to spend time in person discussing best practices, industry trends, and how to increase our impact. On Thursday night the directors shared about program successes and what excites them with an audience of supporters. Below are some highlights from the evening:
I am excited about seeing the country programs scaling-up—the program that once reached only a few communities is being replicated in dozens of communities with a high level of impact. I’m also excited that we are moving forward to launch a new program in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bob Morikawa, Plant With Purpose’s Technical Director, just returned from spending six weeks in the DRC conducting a baseline study.
Bunsak Thongoi (Tui)
In Thailand we work with six hilltribe groups who farm in the mountains. It is difficult to farm here and even more complicated because of land right issues. Without citizenship, these families can be kicked off their land at any point. As marginalized people, access to education, a consistent water supply, the ability to grow food, and access to health care are limited.
I am excited about the partnership with churches in Thailand. Less than one percent of Thai people are Christian. Our vision is to see one million Christians in Thailand. We believe that God will bless the efforts of Christians working together in Thailand.
I have seen an increase in the understanding and willingness to care for creation. Plant With Purpose Tanzania has planted 1.5 million trees annually over the last three years because of our group competition initiative. The competition addresses all three aspects of Plant With Purpose’s program and increased motivation and engagement across the program. In January, 3,000 people gathered to celebrate and congratulate each other for the work being accomplished throughout the year. Because of agricultural accomplishments, farmers have been connected to local markets and are now able to send their children to school.
The uniqueness of the group competition and the three-part approach of Plant With Purpose’s program has attracted attention from the local media, government, other NGOs. In fact, other well-known organizations are approaching Plant With Purpose for advice.
The program in Mexico has recently expanded from Oaxaca to the state of Chiapas. These are the two poorest states in Mexico, and here we partner with indigenous communities who are further marginalized. Community members are participating in the solutions to their own problems and community leaders often become program promoters. It was a local pastor who caught the vision for our program and brought it to Chiapas. The work has expanded now into three municipalities because of efficient work and the excitement of the promoters.
These promoters are also addressing the issue of water scarcity among communities. Soil restoration projects, construction of cisterns, and planting trees are bringing change to the areas where Plant With Purpose works.
I am excited to see farmers, community leaders, pastors, and schools become involved in Plant With Purpose’s programs. It encourages me to see people conserving the soil and planting trees after learning from Plant With Purpose.
Village Savings and Loan Associations are also taking off in Haiti. In two years, the number of VSLA groups has grown so that now there are 141 groups. We have a lot of people who want to join VSLAs because they can get money to invest in businesses, buy animals, and also save. A woman from Fonds-Verrettes recently shared about how her VSLA is helping families, saying, “It’s for the first time in April and May I’ve got enough money in my family to buy seeds, pay school fees, and feed my family without selling an animal.”
One of the most important achievements Plant With Purpose has attained is that community members are building a strong savings culture, which is helping them to be free from the bondage of heavy debts and poverty. Savings-and-loan groups are helping community members improve their families’ education, better their housing conditions, and buy home appliances. Farmers are making investments in their farms and improving their crop production through diversification.
I am excited about building up the program along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It has the most degraded land in the country but also the most dedicated tree planters. These farmers are committed to changing their situation because they know that if you don’t have trees you don’t have water.
I am excited to see churches following the Theology of Work trainings come together to plant trees. One church planted 45,000 trees in one day. Pastors are now creating tree nurseries. Theology of Work is the capital needed by many people. It is a tool to give value to work, especially manual labor. In Genesis 2:15 God called Adam and Eve to take care of the land. Work is our identity; it is not the result of sin but rather it brings reconciliation.
Lives are changing in Burundi: widows are building new homes and parents are feeding their families. We’re constructing improved stoves and parents can afford to take their children to the hospital. We are serving God by serving communities and serving God through actions.