Thursday, September 1, 2011

A hill of beans

Thursday, 9-1-11

Last December, during the dry season, a great deal of rain fell for several days. This led to newly planted bean seedlings being destroyed and doubled over corn becoming moldy. As a result, both the bean and corn crops suffered with most farmers only about to gather 15-20% of their average harvest.

Earlier this year fertilizer was delivered to several communities in the Berlín area to nourish the corn that would be planted in May and June. In August, when the Pastoral Team discovered that a majority of families had no beans to plant, people in Iowa sent funds to purchase beans for the communities.

What will arise from the problem of not having any beans to plant will indeed lead to a hill of beans. In fact, it will lead the several hills of beans all over the Berlín area. At least that’s the hope. We’re all hoping and praying for a good harvest this year.

This afternoon we visited the communities of Casa de Zinc, San Isidro, and Casa de Zacate which are all relatively close to each other. It takes about a half hour to get to Casa de Zinc from the Pastoral House. This morning several men came from the communities with a truck from San Isidro to pick up the beans to haul out to the cantons.

Casa de Zinc
The first community we visited was Casa de Zinc. When we arrived the big truck with the beans wasn’t there yet. They’d stopped to get a few supplies in Berlín while they were in town. So we had some free time to look around at all the corn that was growing in the community. I always love driving by the fields here because they are so beautiful. We gringos walked a little ways down the road to get some good pictures. I said it was comical to see us Iowans taking so many pictures of corn (because there’s lots of corn in Iowa). Then we saw the truck coming around the bend and headed back to where everyone was gathered.

When the truck arrived someone from Casa de Zinc spoke briefly about the donation of beans. Then Blanca took a while to talk to the community. Then it came time to distribute the beans. Casa de Zinc is a small community and we delivered 14 sacks of beans to them; one to each family in the community. So it didn’t take long to hand out all the beans. Everyone was very grateful, and they were all standing along the side of the road and waved as we drove onto the next community.

Corn doubled over

That's a beautiful sight!

Explaining when you bend over
the stalks to let them dry

Mmmm, corn

The fields in Casa de Zinc

Iowans taking pictures of corn

Here comes the truck

Meeting alongside the road

Talking to the community

Giving a fingerprint

Pouring the beans into a different bag

Collecting bags

Collecting more signatures

Sitting on his beans

Saying goodbye to the community

San Isidro
We’d originally planned to go to Casa de Zacate next but people there weren’t quite ready so we went to San Isidro. There were 48 families in the community that would be receiving beans. Someone from the Directiva spoke for a while followed by Blanca. Then the signing and delivery process began again. The community quickly took charge with people hopping up on the truck to hand down sacks of beans to others while someone else began collecting signatures. They worked like a well-oiled machine.

Behind the building where they were unloading beans a small youth group was meeting. Blanca told us that they were a confirmation group. It’s always wonderful to see young people getting together to talk about their faith and other important issues. I think those kind of groups are very important for the youth. We tried not to bother them while they were meeting. A little over a half hour later all the beans had been handed out and we were ready to move on to the next community. We got back in the pickup and waved goodbye to everyone.

Calabash gourd growing on a tree

Walking to where the San Isidro group was gathered

San Isidro community

Talking to his community

Signing for her beans

So cute!

Watching the process

Handing out beans

Pouring beans into a different bag

Giving her fingerprint

Lots of signatures to collect

Taking a quick break
(Blanca and I were actually
having a serious conversation)

Casa de Zacate
Our last stop for the afternoon was the community of Casa de Zacate. When we arrived everyone was gathered in the general meeting area of the community. 24 families were going to be receiving beans. This community doesn’t have an official church partnership but the church that partners with Casa de Zinc and visited the community of Casa de Zacate in February sent enough money to cover both communities. Blanca spoke briefly to the community about the usual things.

Next the president of the Directiva spoke. He told us that the families receiving 40 pounds of beans to plant will give back 20 pounds from their crop to share with those who are less fortunate. The families receiving 15 pounds of beans will give 10 pounds from their crop. He emphasized that this was a community decision and a way for them to help others. This kind of commitment from the community came as a pleasant surprise. It was wonderful to see a small community that wanted to give something back.

We were curious to know how much the 40 pounds they were given would produce. They told us that 40 pounds of beans will cover about ½ a manzana of farm land. Those 40 pounds will yield approximately 400 pounds of beans to harvest. Knowing that, I think what they are planning to donate is very generous. The beans were handed out and soon it was time to say goodbye. We loaded up for our return trip to Berlín. It had been another rewarding day.

Arriving in Casa de Zacate

Unloading beans

Carrying them to the meeting area

Gathered together

Taking the signatures and fingerprints

Checking out his beans

Bags of beans

Transferring beans to a different sack

Waiting to collect their beans


Driving back to Berlin


Anonymous said...

Congrats to all of you for obtaining funding, organizing, and getting the much needed beans to the communities. Your actions will feed so many people. Mom

Matt said...

It's amazing that the communities are so willing to give back to help others even though they themselves have so little to begin with.