Guatemala: Farming for a Better Future
In the chilly highlands of Guatemala, much of the land people live on is difficult to farm and earn a living from. Starting with the women, indigenous families in at least 31 communities in Totonicapá province are learning to manage soil and water resources, increase and diversify their crops, use sustainable farming practices, and market their surplus. Marcela Chic is proud of the cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers that she and her neighbors are now growing year-round in simple greenhouses.
Marcela is a leader of the women’s group in her community. Through the workshops in her village that she and the other women have participated in, supported by Week of Compassion, they have learned to grow vegetables using locally available resources, including tire gardens, natural pesticides made from local plants, composting for fertilizer, and water purified with local plants.
“It’s not just giving them seeds . . . but through the trainings they’ve gotten new ideas and support and it shows in the pride of each person,” explains Don Tatlock of Church World Service, “that they can now provide for their families, provide for their children—can maybe have a better future for their children.”
“And when people started doing different things, especially with the greenhouses, doing organic composting, using organic fertilizers, organic pesticides, the men at first were saying, ‘That’s crazy stuff—there’s no way that’s going to work.’ As they saw the process and saw the results, then they wanted to be part of the program. And that’s been interesting . . . they’re now asking the women to teach them how they’re doing it . . . so they can learn and be a part of it as well,” says Tatlock.
Marcela and her neighbors are thrilled with the results—improved nutrition, increased income, and a new sense of personal dignity and confidence in what they can accomplish together.
Sharing Brings Joy: A Week of Compassion Testimony
Rev. Truce Lewellen introduced me to Week of Compassion in 1967. The occasion was his Pastor’s Class, and I was about to be baptized. For the past 44 years Week of Compassion has been like a best friend joining me to a much bigger ministry. In 1985, a massive earthquake hit Mexico City. My wife, Maria, a Mexican American, and I felt helpless as we watched TV and wished we could make a difference. A few days later, we learned that some of the first aid to reach Mexico City was from Church World Service, a partner ministry of the Week of Compassion.
I remember the south Louisiana severe drought of 1998-2000. John Tarter was a member at the local congregation where I was a pastor. His mother, Ann, donated the hay crop from her late stepfather Kenneth Sprouse’s farm. Week of Compassion helped us ship the hay from Kentucky to Louisiana and aided in the distribution of the bales to small family farmers. It was an example of families, congregations, and Week of Compassion working together to be a blessing.
Maria is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Week of Compassion allows us to serve the world’s refugees and stand beside the victims of violence. Last year, Maria was excited to reintroduce the Week of Compassion to the congregation she serves.
As the associate minister of Kentucky Appalachian Ministry, I am thankful for the Week of Compassion’s partnership with the flood victims in the Kentucky coalfields and Carter County.
Week of Compassion helps me live out my faith every day.
-Lon Oliver, Associate Regional Minister, Christian Church in Kentucky