Empowerment: A Plant With Purpose Core Value
Written by Annelise Jolley on November 18, 2014 in General
This blog series explores the six Core Values of Plant With Purpose: Faith, Collaboration, Stewardship, Sustainability, Empowerment, and Innovation. Over the next few months, we’ll share how these values play out across our international programs and how they inform our approach to community development. Up next: Empowerment.
“You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.” Wangari Muta Maathai
Over the past 30 years, Plant With Purpose has discovered the truth in Maathai’s words time and time again. Community transformation begins when people understand that their resources – the land, the local church, the few dollars they earn each week – are enough to improve their circumstances. Families experience dignity when they discover that they already have the raw materials to make a change. With a bit of training and tools, communities in the most desperate places can harness their own gifts and resources to create a bright future.
Adella from Oaxaca was introduced to Plant With Purpose 12 years ago. She lives in a village called El Carrizal and used to cook over an open fire every day. Plant With Purpose approached her with the idea to build a fuel-efficient stove together, one that would eliminate smoke in her kitchen and protect her eyes and lungs from damaging soot. Adella agreed and has since embraced Plant With Purpose’s projects with a contagious zeal. Though she can’t read or write, she’s become a champion for empowerment in her community. Adella has raised chickens and bunnies, constructed cisterns, planted family gardens, grafted trees, and reforested local land. She initiated a community market day so that neighbors who were starting to increase their produce and income could buy, sell, and trade with each other. Her property flourishes with spinach, radishes, onions, fruit trees, roses and other produce. She sows literal seeds wherever she can while planting seeds of hope among her neighbors.
Adella’s life is a testimony to the transformation that is possible when individuals are empowered to address local needs. Her leadership, hard work, and big vision for what’s possible inspire her neighbors and our staff. In every program and project, Plant With Purpose seeks to foster this sense of ownership among community members. As one woman named Sylvia put it, “Thank you for this program and for letting us participate in the work.” Sylvia and Adella partner with Plant With Purpose as participants in transformational work, not as recipients of charity. This participatory spirit is at the heart of empowerment, and we’re thankful for the farming families who make our work possible.