Isaya with his family in Tanzania.

We Were The Ones Who Forgot

For Isaya, poverty took many forms

Isaya lives in Tanzania, where he and his neighbors once lived in poverty. They didn’t just lack money, however. They also lacked trees, enthusiasm, and the awareness of how to improve their situation.

The barrenness of the land around him left Isaya concerned about what sort of future awaited his five children. “Before Plant With Purpose, it was like a desert here,” he told us.

Everybody in the area relied on their farms for food and income, but the perpetual dryness made it very difficult to grow enough crops. The lack of trees contributed to his community’s poverty.  And the lack of knowledge surrounding sustainable farming practices contributed to the lack of trees.

“We were poor,” acknowledges Isaya, “And we were poor in our education on the environment.”

Isaya enjoys a laugh with one of his sons.
Isaya enjoys a laugh with one of his sons.

From a desert to a forest

The lack of an environmental education didn’t last. A Tanzanian facilitator eventually helped establish a Plant With Purpose farmer field school in the area, and Isaya was one among many who signed up.

“We started environmental conservation work,” he tells us about those early days. “First we practiced agroforestry, then we joined a savings group. At the farmer field school, we learned about nitrogen fixing soils.”

He and his neighbors learned how to practice mulching, using discarded plant matter to restore materials to the soil. They learned how to minimize soil disruption while rotating crops on the surface.

“Now there are many trees,” he points out. “It is cool.”

“Education through these small groups has gone over in a positive way. Start with planting trees, and suddenly your farms look like a fresh garden.”

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God never forgot about him

While living in poverty, it was tempting for Isaya and his neighbors to think that God had forgotten about them. It also seemed as if they had to do more and more work for a smaller and smaller reward.

Through the program, they heard that God created the earth and gave them the important responsibility to take care of it.

“By planting trees,” says Isaya, “we are reminded that God has not forgotten us; we forgot what God has taught us to do. We must know about creation.”

Many of us can relate to this idea. Stewardship of the earth and environment applies to us all. When we need to reconnect to the rhythms of creation, it helps to remember what things God invites us to steward.

“If many people plant trees, this will reduce the temperature here. If we can increase our yield by 75 percent, we can eradicate poverty in Tanzania,” says Isaya. “You may have eyes but be completely blind [in] the way to see these things.”

Want to help farmers like Isaya restore their communities while growing in faith? Invest in Plant With Purpose’s program. As a Purpose Partner, your $22 a month provides sustainable support for lasting change. Learn more here!

Philippe Lazaro

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