For the past several Novembers I’ve created a small business gift guide here at Carrots for Michaelmas. I think this is a worthwhile endeavor, but this year, I’m not creating one. I’d like to do something different and I’m going to need your help.
As we look toward the challenges of supply chain issues and the madness of holiday gift purchasing–what if we set all that aside to give a different kind of gift? What if we could help women who desperately need support? What if we could offer a gift of charity and generosity in a part of the world where it’s needed the most?
I want to reach out to you today because I know how powerful this community is in addressing urgent needs. Last year a local family with a toddler and newborn twins was threatened with homelessness due to job loss and medical bills and within a few hours my followers on social media raised $7K for them to move into a new apartment and keep them afloat! It was so incredible. I know that this community is amazing, so I’m confident that if you are able, you will show up for a cause that is dear to my heart!
I’m partnering with Cross Catholic Outreach in one of their many worthy missions: to support rural women farmers in Haiti. If you remember, we moved to a working farm and spent a year there when my husband was doing a livestock internship. I chronicled all that we learned in my first book, The Grace of Enough. But one of the takeaways that I couldn’t ignore was the difficulty of farming successfully. It’s not easy work. It’s relentless, even in the best of circumstances. But we all know that Haiti has faced multiple catastrophic events over the past few years. Making a livelihood is incredibly difficult–even more so if you’re a woman.
I want you to meet Claudia Bernadin. Claudia raised six children and is now a grandmother. Her husband has been very ill for months, hospitalized and unable to work. It’s up to Claudia to provide for them and she joined Cross Catholic Outreach’s program for women farmers.
Claudia was provided with necessary farming equipment and seeds and took agricultural classes and received help from the program’s agronomists. In less than a year her crops were yielding more than ever before and she made enough to buy a pig and has plans for more livestock. She’s also been able to rent another plot of land to grow peas. She says, “I say thanks to the Lord, because I don’t know what I would have done without this garden.”
This program has changed her life. The money she has made has paid for medical care for her husband, school tuition and shoes for her grandchildren, and she doesn’t have to skip meals anymore–they have food every day.
Can we work together to support Claudia and the 75 other Haitian women farmers in the program? My goal is to raise $6000 for these women by Christmas. This is a big goal, but I think with your help, we can do this!
About CCO’s Program for Women Farmers
The program targets women living in the remote villages of Maissaide-Selpetre and Bassin-Cave. The only real job available in the community is farming, which is why this program–a partnership of a non-profit Haitian organization and the local Catholic parish has had such a huge impact.
Each of the beneficiaries attend four training classes:
1) Good farming practices – this teaches them how to create a successful garden, everything from seeding to harvest
3) Basic nutrition
4) How to prepare and preserve seedlings
The women meet in small groups daily and collectively monthly. The program staff, which includes two Haitian agronomists and two local deacons from the local Catholic church, equip the women in the program with correct tools, encourages family participation, introduces new seeds and vegetables, and educating the farmers on improved farming practices, including location selection (planting gardens closer to your house), water management (use of 55-gallon drum for water collection and storage), seed banks (saving seeds for the futures seasons), community (working together, composting techniques, setting up tree nurseries, training on hygiene, general nutrition and much more.
The stories of these women are amazing. Some could not afford to send their children to school and now they can provide them with an education. Some could not eat every day and now they have more food security.
They are also coming together as a whole community. If a program participant misses a meeting, her fellow farming women go to her home to find out if she needs help. The community has come alive to repair their parish church, support local funeral costs, and help on each other’s farms, etc.
75 women are in the program but many others want to participate. And they want to expand community resources by enlarging the community greenhouse and building a new sugar cane press, sugar cane and moringa mills, and increased irrigation. But to expand the program and support the already participating women, Cross Catholic Outreach needs your help. Can you contribute to this project? Can our online community do something really incredible this holiday season?
Big or small, your contribution matters. Donate today at Cross Catholic Outreach with this link! (And until December 31st, your gift will be DOUBLED up to $15,000 thanks to a generous donor.)
(And I’ll be updating our online community’s progress toward our goal on social media, so keep an eye out! I have no doubt that you will blow me away with your generosity.)