Ripple Report: Promoting with Passion and Purpose
Written by Plant With Purpose on March 31, 2011 in General
by Aly Lewis
Today I had the privilege of listening to the great Milmer Martinez, Plant With Purpose Program Officer to Haiti and Mexico, talk about his most recent trip to our program in Oaxaca, Mexico. These are by far my favorite staff trainings (besides the riveting security videos we’ve been watching), and I always leave feeling inspired enough to write a book about the accomplishments and perseverance of our incredible staff and the dedicated farmers we partner with. While dreams of book deals and bestsellers swirl in my head, a blog post will have to suffice for now (be grateful, be very grateful, dear readers).
As Milmer shared, I realized every hopeful story and testimony he told came as a result of the incredible level of community engagement and local ownership in the program. We (I’m taking collective Plant With Purpose liberties here) aren’t the ones doing the work, we aren’t the ones implementing and sustaining the projects, and we aren’t even the ones spreading the work to new families and communities. Our Mexican staff has developed a thriving promoter program that encourages local ownership and involvement. Promoters are motivated individuals who have participated in our projects and help facilitate our work in their own communities and endorse and spread our programs to new areas. They are literally the voice of Plant With Purpose, sharing their successes with their friends and neighbors and even training them in new techniques.
While I was excited about everything Milmer said about the promoters, my ears perked up when I heard him talk about the promoter, Mr. Gumersindo. For those of you who haven’t followed this blog for very long, Mr. Gumersindo is my favorite promoter (yes, I’m biased.) I read about him in a report from the field a couple of years ago and then was able to meet him when I visited Oaxaca in an encounter that was on par with a legitimate celebrity sighting for me. (You can read about it here)
I already knew that Mr. Gumersindo had first introduced the community of Monteflor to the activities of Plant With Purpose. I already knew he had met with a man named Epigmenio and shared all of the direct and indirect ways he and his community had benefited from Plant With Purpose. I already knew he could explain the details and benefits of projects ranging from family gardens to ecological latrines with precision and enthusiasm. I already knew Epigmenio caught Mr. Gumersindo’s excitement and began organizing his friends and neighbors to work with Plant With Purpose. I already knew that, in the first year, the program in Monteflor grew from six participating families to over 75.
What I didn’t know was that Mr. Gumersindo’s legacy didn’t stop with Monteflor. I learned that Epigmenio now gladly promotes Plant With Purpose’s work to his neighboring community of Monte Frio, Gumersindo-style. Because of Epigmenio and Mr. Gumersindo, the community of Monte Frio has joined together to build a community cistern, allowing them to access water and produce nutritious crops year round. They’ve also started family gardens, latrine projects, improved stoves, reforestation activities, and women’s revolving loan fund groups.
Although the legend of Mr. Gumersindo is a personal favorite, this story is just one of many examples of the multiplier effect promoters are having on our program as members themselves foster long-term growth in their communities. I can’t wait to share more stories of hope and transformation in the communities of both Monteflor and Monte Frio because of passionate promoters like Mr. Gumersindo.
Stay tuned for more Ripple Reports!