The green leaves start to receive the first rays of the sun, leaving the darkness and cold of the night behind. It is 6 in the morning and the harvest looks ready – ready to be separated from the corn bush, ready to become part of a meal, and ready to be part of a change in the lives of an entire community.
This is the fruit of seeds planted with hope, watered with hard work and dreams, and, at last, harvested with joy.
Pastor Damian checks two sacks full of beans. It is just the beginning of the harvest and the fruits already look promising.
Another man, Brother Juan, a seasoned farmer with dark skin and gray hair, is a perfect example of a Salvadoran farmer – thin but somehow robust, quiet and wise. Juan has served as an adviser to Pastor Damian since they decided to implement program “Double Seed.”
Juan talks about the beans and how they should keep some leaves and dirt in the sack so the beans will not lose the humidity they need.
“This way, they can last for about a year,” he adds, and smiles, knowing that the efforts made these past three months have given results – promising results that translate into hope.
It has been three months since Double Seed started in the community of Corinto, in Zaragoza, a city located eight miles south of the capital city, San Salvador, in El Salvador.
These past months meant sweat and great efforts for the people, but it also meant hope for a future that did not seem so clear a few months before.
Declarations made by international organizations since the third quarter of the year contrast with the hope at Zaragoza.
On July 13, 2008, the president of the World Bank, Mr. Robert Zoellick, declared to news agencies that they estimated that poor countries will need over $6 billion in assistance because already rising food and energy costs will continue to climb until 2012.
The economy section of El Diario de Hoy newspaper the next day showed that the cost of staples has increased 40 percent. But numbers are not as compelling as individual stories.
The journalist recalled a scene at a street market where a woman who preferred not to be identified collected the grains of maize that fell on the floor after the salesman weighed the grain to put it in bags and sell by the pound.
After much effort, this woman collected about one pound of maize just from the grains that fell on the floor, which would her feed her family that night.
Since the global food crisis filled the headlines and breaking news segments, Compassion El Salvador and its partner churches began to create strategies to face this threat. Among the strategies are agricultural development programs for the families of Compassion-assisted children.
The crisis experienced all around the world has complicated roots, and the truth is that the most affected are the people in greatest need. Now Compassion is striving to provide help, hope and the Word of God to those families at greatest risk.
Compassion El Salvador created multidisciplinary teams at the country office level, which developed a strategy that first takes into account the valuable input of pastors and church leaders.
This strategy has been implemented in two stages. First is the short-term response, where families most in need receive immediate relief through our Complementary Interventions program (CIV). They are receiving enough food for their families to cover six months.
The second stage involves the church more, since the purpose is to support the families at the child development centers, and start income-generating activities such as chicken farms and hydroponics.
Among these programs to secure food for the short term is Double Seed, implemented by our church partner, Iglesia Jesucristo es El Señor, which runs the child development center, Nuevo Amanecer (New Sunrise).
In rural communities like Corinto, most of the people do not have a steady job and survive with what they can harvest with the seeds they receive from the government. The real hope and help they have comes from churches and organizations like Compassion. Churches like Jesucristo es El Señor and Pastor Damian understand this and have taken the challenge to make a difference in the lives of the children.
Sister Sandra, partnership facilitator for Jesucristo es El Señor, says the church received $2,000, and there will be another $700. With that money the church was able to buy seeds and other materials they needed to begin the harvest.
The land was borrowed by the pastor’s family, and the labor was the result of the collaboration of the families of the children at the development center. So far, they have sowed five acres of corn and one more of beans.
The most impressive part of this plan is the name, Double Seed. “At the place where they have sowed the beans, the church has a small group that meets to share the gospel,” says Sister Sandra.
It is called Double Seed because they are not just planting grains that will secure food next year for the families of the children from the child development center and the church - they also are planting the gospel that will secure the salvation of the families that are not Christian.
For now, Double Seed has been a short-term immediate response to the food shortage and is intended to secure food for the families of the children enrolled in the program for the next several months.
The church is becoming a holistic oasis in that poor community, where people are not only finding support for their children, but also for their families and for their souls.
“The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.” – Psalm 85:12 (NIV)