Receiving “stuff” this holiday season will not make our lives better.
The holidays are upon us, a time when we think about giving and sharing, making our loved ones happy, and showing them how much we care. Many of us have the privilege of not needing much in terms of material goods. Receiving “stuff” this holiday season will not make our lives significantly better. However, there is a difference we all can make that will bring us greater joy. We can choose to donate the cash value of our gifts to organizations like Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), knowing that hardworking people in other parts of the world will get much-needed relief that, in turn, will benefit our planet and its beings.
Since its initiation in 1997 by returned Peace Corps volunteer Florence Reed, SHI has assisted families in rural farming communities in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. With organic vegetable gardens, wood-conserving stoves, community loan funds, and a host of other projects, participants work with SHI field trainers to dramatically improve their quality of life while restoring the environment.
For instance, there is the story of Gertrudis Rodriguez from Tranquila, Panama, who sent me a very thoughtful thank you note:
“My three years working with SHI-Panama have been a great experience. In the past, I always planted traditional crops such as rice, corn, cassava and bananas. I have now learned a lot of things and expanded my production. This year I planted pigeon peas, beans, 300 plantain seedlings and 250 coffee trees. I started planting peppers and tomatoes near our house, which my wife Flora likes because she can easily find the vegetables when she is cooking.
I want to do more because I have land, but I also want to preserve trees to keep the environment cool and maintain the streams and rivers. To avoid burning, we built five rice paddies and now eat rice as part of our daily meal. I am happy because rice is expensive at the market and we no longer have to buy it.
Last year my Field Trainer, Daysbeth, gave me a diamond yam. She told me not to sell or eat it, but rather plant it because I need to store the seed for next year. That is what I did, and this year I have a greater yam production. My family is able to eat yams now, and during the first week of December, we made $40 selling one hundred yams. According to my calculations, I will have another $1,000 worth to sell this year.
On behalf of my family, I want to give thanks to the donors who support Sustainable Harvest International. We are working hard and obtaining great outcomes. Your money is not going to waste.”
Imagine what an extra $1,000 will mean to a family that earned only a few hundred dollars per year before working with SHI, in addition to the extra food they are producing for themselves! As a volunteer member of the board of directors of SHI, I feel so compelled by his story and several others that I have made it a personal goal to raise $2,000 by December 31, 2012, so Gertrudis’ and many other families will start a new year with renewed hope and energy.
We cannot do it without your help! Whatever the amount that you can give, we at SHI will make it go far, I promise! Thank you in advance for your support. Please stay tuned for the results of my campaign and don’t forget to pass the word!
For your donation to count toward my personal goal, please use the following link http://shi.ag/giving2012-carmenza. We are also happy to receive general donations by phone or mail.
Sustainable Harvest International
779 North Bend Road
Surry, ME 04684 U.S.A.
Carmenza Montague, a native of Colombia, South America, has a passion for social and environmental matters. She has been a member of the board of directors of Sustainable Harvest International since June 2012 and currently heads SHI’s Communications Committee. Carmenza formerly imported Café Yuluka, a delicious organic, fairly traded, shade-grown, indigenous coffee from Colombia.
Ed: Rebecca Schwarz
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