Two parishes in Menevia – St David’s Priory Church in Swansea and Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Llanelli hosted Fast Day briefings for some of our dedicated volunteers earlier this month.
This year the country of focus for Harvest is Bolivia.
It’s a landlocked country in central South America and one third of the country is the Andean mountain range.
It’s the poorest country in South America.
The Altiplano is a vast, inhospitable plain almost 4,000 metres above sea level.
The soil is poor quality because the area is incredibly arid. The climate is changing and becoming increasingly unpredictable.
We discovered that 45% of the population – or 6 in 10 people – live below the poverty line but in rural areas this can be as high a 60% as people depend on farming to make a living.
30% of the population live in rural areas. This has fallen from over 60% in the 1960s because many men move to cities like La Paz or El Alto to earn money as the burning sun, unpredictable rains and devastating hailstorms on the Bolivian Altiplano make growing enough nutritious food a daily struggle.
Women and children are left to work the land themselves. Bolivia’s staple crop is potatoes which have grown in this region since pre-Inca times.
Quinoa is also a key staple but its popularity in the global north means that poorer people in Bolivia can no longer afford to eat it.
Sadly there are high levels of malnutrition in children under three years of age and this can be as high as 40% in the poorest households.
CAFOD is working with three partners on the Altiplano to help families to grow more food.
Communities are being trained in traditional and modern farming methods using organic fertilisers, composts, seeds, vegetable gardens and terracing. They are being taught how to construct their own greenhouses and wormeries and make their own organic fertilisers and pesticides.
We learned about the new Hands On project in the Altiplano.
Over the next two years, with the help of donations from regular giving and the support of CAFOD’s partner Fundacion Nuna, families will build a sheltered vegetable garden, greenhouse, wormery (to produce humus/compost) and install irrigation on their land.
This will all help families to overcome the tough conditions and grow enough good food (carrots, beetroot, turnip, cabbage, chard, onion, celery, parsley, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber) to feed themselves.
So we’re asking our supporters to get Hands On with CAFOD’s Altiplano project and see how lives can be transformed with training, with the right technology, with good quality seeds, with a greenhouse and sheltered garden to combat the harsh weather conditions.
In two years time the community can look forward to their first, full harvest.
And families can live together.
Following our briefing in Swansea, Bernadette McIntosh, CAFOD’s Volunteer Support and Training Specialist, gave an interesting and valuable presentation on the importance of delivering CAFOD’s messages effectively, especially when speaking at Mass at Fast Days.
It was an opportunity to refresh our presenting skills and share good practice. It’s good to be informed, to raise awareness and respond to the challenge of putting our faith into action.
If our supporters do pledge to give regularly to the Hands On project, you will get regular updates from the communities on the Altiplano throughout their two year project. You’ll know precisely where your donations are going and how you have transformed the landscape for families there,