Restoring Lives and Land Since 1984
Written by Plant With Purpose on July 2, 2014 in General
Does your family have old photo albums filling up the bookshelves? Plant With Purpose is no different. “I love Haiti” and “Floresta” stickers curl up from the covers of these time capsules. Inside, clippings from newspapers explain how one man set out to change circumstances for rural families by addressing the devastating needs in the Dominican Republic. Issues of poverty and environmental degradation still plague remote communities today. But thirty years after our founding, Plant With Purpose is celebrating milestones reached and thousands of lives transformed – lives of individuals like Lucas Frías de Los Santos.
Lucas held tightly to his belief that God was dead for many years. His belief was amplified by difficult life circumstances. In his small village of Maizal, Dominican Republic he struggled to make a life for his family. His farm didn’t produce enough to feed his large family, he had no way to save money, and his community was divided. Even if God lived, Lucas thought, He certainly wasn’t doing His job.
Ghandi famously said, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” Such was the case for Lucas, who lacked food, economic opportunity, and hope. But in partnership with Plant With Purpose, God appeared to Lucas in the form of tangible resources like seeds and access to loans. The farmer and father of five recently shared, “Plant With Purpose has helped me understand the immense love God has for me. I have grown in faith and acknowledge that there is life only in God and that He is far from dead.”
“Plant With Purpose has helped me understand the immense love God has for me. I have grown in faith and acknowledge that there is life only in God and that He is far from dead.”
Through sustainable agriculture trainings, Lucas learned the importance of caring for his land. “I learned to value the environment, which is part of God’s creation,” he says. And as he began caring for his environment out of love for its Creator, his farm production increased. Lucas and other Maizal farmers received training in soil conservation, organic fertilizers, and crop diversification. Farmers now plant a variety of crops – which heal the soil and increase crop yield – by intercropping trees such as cocoa, citrus, and avocado with low-growing fruits and vegetables. Not only do trees protect farmland, they also increase farmers’ incomes through the sale of wood and fruit.
Through his involvement with Plant With Purpose, Lucas grew into a community leader. He now serves as a coordinator of his Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). Though most farmers in Maizal don’t make much money, they are seeing their resources multiply through wise stewardship. “We have learned that what little we earn, we must save,” he says. The Maizal VSLA group has benefited from interest earned on their own savings and loans. Group members have improved farm plots and strengthened small businesses through borrowing loans. “Thanks to the loans from the savings group, I improved my land and my home,” Lucas shares.
Today we celebrate the changes that Lucas, his family, and the community of Maizal have experienced. The vision that was cast thirty years ago has fueled the growth of an international organization serving 18,000 families in 339 communities across six countries. Each of those numbers represents a story to us. Thank you for being a part of Lucas’ story, for partnering in Plant With Purpose’s life changing work, and for allowing so many to experience God’s kingdom here on earth.