Several years ago, I had the opportunity to travel with Food for the Hungry (FH) to Guatemala. I met a farmer who forever changed my view on sustainable development and how it affects not only the most vulnerable, but our earth as well. This story still rings true today as we raise awareness and celebrate the progress being made to protect our planet and those living on it. Happy Earth Day!
It’s cold and damp and every bone in my body hurts. I zip up my sweater, tighten the scarf around my neck, and slowly make my way up an ascending soft, muddy path. The smell of pungent, sweet, burning smoke is thick in my nostrils. My eyes span the vast rolling hills of Guatemala’s countryside and I take a mental snapshot of this beautiful environment. I’m amazed poverty exists in such rich, God-given natural resources.
We arrive at our destination — a modest home next to a lush, green hillside neatly organized into various crops. I meet a man with the kindest face I’ve ever seen, Pedro Raimundo Lopez. Pedro is the president of the agricultural association in his community. He gives me a tour of his various crops and organic composting area, and he happily poses for photos.
I learn from Pedro that he has eight children. He had a difficult time feeding his children before working with FH. He was always at the mercy of his unpredictable (and many times meager) harvests. This changed after he received trainings on how to farm organically, compost, sustainably take care of his crops, and fumigate. Now he teaches other community members how to do the same.
As I watch Pedro walk among his crops and listen to him talk about his children, it’s clear to me that he cares deeply about the health of his family and his countryside. His is just one example of how FH programs impacts lives by caring for the environment.
Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22. People like Pedro help me realize this day’s original purpose goes much deeper than “protecting our planet.” For many in FH communities, saving the earth is synonymous with saving lives. And not just one day a year. Every day, our faithful friends and partners join us in helping communities receive and implement life- and earth-saving trainings.
And this is happening all around the globe.
Houses dot the green farmland in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala.
- In Peru, earthworms provide families with an eco-friendly way to grow vegetables rich in iron and vitamin A. They help break down crop residues and improve soil structure in their gardens.
- In Burundi, families fight malnutrition by using rich, organic animal fertilizer (yes, poop!) to dramatically improve fruit and vegetable harvests, instead of using chemical-laden pesticides.
- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tree seedlings reforest communities and help mothers feed their children. Once-barren land is now productive. The atmosphere replenished with oxygen. In the DRC, a separate project that turned swampland into farmland is now impacting entire communities.
These are just a few examples of many! When you scroll through your social media and news feeds today and see many examples of how we are all working to conserve our precious mother earth, remember that God is always at work. In you…me…and vulnerable communities around the world.
But the work is not finished.
I hope you’ll prayerfully consider how God might use you to help save lives and the earth … not just today, but 365 days of the year.
More articles you may be interested in:
Living in the Balance: An Earth Day Reflection
Earth Day Around the World
God’s Story: “How” Is More Important Than “What”