Generosity, Her Source of Strength

Written by Annelise Jolley on May 27, 2015 in General


This month we’re highlighting the women of Plant With Purpose who anchor their families and communities.

We shuffled single file down the slope, side stepping over rocks and dewy grass. The narrow trail twisted through trees and finally plateaued into a small clearing. We looked up to see Esperanza chasing nimbly after us, favoring a straight shot over the trail we had struggled down.

It was April and our group from the U.S. was visiting Plant With Purpose partner communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. We arrived at Esperanza and Aureliano Perez’s house in El Capijul as birds woke and the sun climbed over pine trees. Their wooden house is built on a hillside and their farm occupies several acres of steep earth. Everything that constitutes their livelihood is represented on that plot: a goat pen, a chicken coop, an ecological latrine, and a tomato greenhouse.

We had trekked down the trail in order to see the Perez’s newly constructed greenhouse. Esperanza, Aureliano, and their three sons built the structure with assistance and materials from Plant With Purpose Mexico. They spent long hours laboring to clear a space for it, hauling rocks away and packing soil into a flat surface. Though only four months old, the greenhouse’s 200 tomato plants already hung heavy with fruit. We followed Esperanza and Aureliano through the greenhouse, pushing through thick rows of vines and the fragrance of tomatoes. Though it was their first harvest Esperanza invited us, a group of strangers, to pick the tomatoes her family had grown.


Before we left the greenhouse, she asked our group to stop and give praise to God. “This greenhouse is a blessing to my family,” she began, and tears quickly filled her eyes. “I am so excited today because we never thought we’d have a greenhouse.” She went on to explain how difficult it is to find sustainable work in El Capijul, a remote village with few economic opportunities. “We don’t have jobs and so it’s very difficult to earn money. But now we can eat the tomatoes and sell them for income. It is a blessing and we praise God for this opportunity.”

Thanks to the sustainable production of tomatoes, Esperanza and Aureliano now have a continuous source of income—income that may help them cover their boys’ school fees or other necessities. The added nutrition from the tomatoes will also enhance the family’s diet. “My youngest son says he will eat every tomato we grow,” she laughed, “but we will have many extra to sell.”

Our visit with Aureliano and Esperanza ended as they served us breakfast in their home. On top of fresh tortillas with herbs and cheese they sliced the first harvest of tomatoes. We experienced Esperanza’s generosity firsthand that morning and learned it extends far beyond her own home. She told us that she passes on her knowledge from Plant With Purpose training to her neighbors in El Capijul. “When people see my projects they become very interested in Plant With Purpose. So I send them. And my neighbors are asking when they get to start their projects.”

Esperanza’s strength is in her generosity. By passing on the knowledge and tools she received from Plant With Purpose, Esperanza—whose name means hope—equips her community to generate their own sources of income and nutrition. For Aureliano and Esperanza, their tomato greenhouse is a physical reminder of opportunity and hope, and their responsibility to extend these gifts to others.

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