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Seeds of Hope Begin to Sprout!

Do you remember when we sent four boxes of seeds to Burkina? If not, you can read all about it in the post below. In short, back in August we sent four boxes of seeds from the U.S. to Burkina Faso for market-gardening and supplemental food.

Seed distributionSuccessful cucumber

Now those plants are growing and being harvested!

Local communities across Burkina received these seeds and planted them in October. Several varieties were successfully germinated including beans, cucumber and melon. This has added much-needed nutrients to the families daily diet.

Seeds of Hope

This blog was originally posted in August 2016. It has been re-posted in conjunction with our latest update from the field–these seeds are now growing!

The meals that were packaged at events in the late Spring and early Summer have arrived in Burkina Faso!

Seeds Burkina

Thanks to a collaboration with Catholic Relief Services’ Farmer to Farmer program, this shipment contained not only meals but also a donation of four large boxes of seeds. Our Helping Hands growing project in the Tougouri region of Burkina Faso will receive this donation, which contains over 700 kinds of seeds, including varieties of onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and beans.

Seeds donated to the CRS Helping Hands program September 2015

These seeds will be used in the market garden at Tougouri in order to generate income. Projects like market gardening are an essential part of the work that CRS Helping Hands supports in Burkina Faso. While the meals that Helping Hands volunteers package are important for meeting the immediate needs of our hungry brothers and sisters, the income-generating projects that our events fund help our brothers and sisters find long-term means of earning a living. In a very real way, then, these seeds are seeds of hope for a future that is free from hunger.

Live Mercy: Feed the Hungry

This blog was written by guest-blogger, Genevieve Jordan Laskey. 

If you’ve paid any attention to Pope Francis since last November, you’ve probably heard the word “mercy.” A lot. Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy that began in December of 2015 and will come to a close in just a couple of weeks, on November 20, 2016.

What does “mercy” even mean? One definition of “mercy” is rooted in Scripture. It traces back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31-46, where he lays out what’s necessary for salvation: to show compassion to people who suffer. He says that whatever we do for people in need, we do directly to him. It’s here that Jesus names some of what the Church refers to as the Corporal Works of Mercy, like feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and visiting the sick and imprisoned.

I reflected back on the past year to try to evaluate how well I practiced each of the Works of Mercy. And I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even make it past “feeding the hungry.” I couldn’t think of one example throughout the past year when I had gone out of my way to give food to someone in need. Why is this? There are probably a number of reasons, but part of it could be because I do have enough to eat every day, and so it’s easy for me to be out of touch with the reality of those who do not.

But a staggering 795 million people around the world do not have enough to eat. People in developing countries, especially, are still devastated by hunger.

  • Every 1 out of 9 people does not have enough food.
  • Most of these people live in the developing world.
  • Many of the people who are affected by hunger are children.

In his Bull of Indiction to launch the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis says it is an essential part of the work of the Church to testify to God’s mercy. He writes, “Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident” (no. 12).

One way that CRS practices the Work of Mercy of “feeding the hungry” is through CRS’ Helping Hands meal-packaging program. Through Helping Hands, communities in the US gather together to package nutritious meals for people living in poverty in Burkina Faso. Helping Hands also invests in initiatives that empower people to be able to feed their families for the long-term.

Though it inspires me that CRS feeds the hungry in the name of Catholics in the US, like me, I realize this also doesn’t let me—or any of us— off the hook. Pope Francis encourages each of us to be a tangible signs of God’s compassionate love to others during this Jubilee Year—and beyond.

Maybe even though we’ve heard the word “mercy” more than usual over the past year, we still haven’t found the time to reflect on or practice it. This is true for me, at least. And so as the year nears its end, I am committing to carve out some time reflect more deeply on how we can show God’s mercy to people who need it most, and especially to those who do not have enough to eat. What will you do?

Live Mercy by Feeding the Hungry with CRS Helping Hands >

 

Genevieve Jordan Laskey develops resources for ministry for Catholic Relief Services.

Faithful Fundraising

This blog was written by guest-blogger, Erin Mackey.

Knock… knock… knock. I stood anxiously waiting for my neighbors, Mr. Al and Ms. Lisa, to open their front door. As the doorknob turned I could feel my face turning a deep shade of scarlet and my palms becoming moist. The door opened and Mr. Al stood before me. In that moment it took every ounce of my 8-year-old self to mutter the words: “Would you like to buy some wrapping paper?”

    Erin_St. Anns While my grandparent-like neighbors were very gracious and bought more wrapping paper than they most-likely needed, those early days of fundraising not only gave me a lesson in self-confidence but also an introduction in hard work and persistence. Yes, Mr. Al and Ms. Lisa bought my wrapping paper, but not all of my neighbors were as willing. Following that initial introduction of selling wrapping paper as part of St. Ann’s fundraiser, fundraising soon became an inevitable part of my years in Catholic school. Want to participate in the Walk-A-Thon? Fundraise. Interested in going on a service trip? Fundraise. I soon got over my fears and was able to participate in countless events over the course of my schooling thanks to the various fundraisers that I carried out. Now, as an adult, I reflect back on that time and think about all the great opportunities I was privileged to experience. I must admit, I loved school! As a kid I would pull out my uniform from its summer hibernation, happy to see my forgotten plaid. And, yes, I was also the one who loved shopping for back to school supplies. When I think about my overall experience attending Catholic school and participating in countless events, I also think about those who were unable to share in similar childhood experiences. While I was out selling wrapping paper or chocolate there were children around the world yearning to go to school. But, I am happy to say there is a way to change this! This year, as part of your Helping Hands Fall Essentials Kit, I encourage you to take your fundraising to a new level by choosing fair trade! CRS partners Equal Exchange and Serrv, offer two great options for fundraising.

2015.12.17_Coffee-Photos_Gary-Goodman-22_720x480_72_RGB What makes these fundraisers unique from others? Global impact. When you fundraise with CRS partners for your Helping Hands event, you are making a difference in the lives of people around the world. By holding a fair trade fundraiser, you support artisans and farmers who skillfully make the products you sell. Fair trade brings dignity to the workplace, provides opportunities for children to attend school and makes communities stronger. Start fundraising for your next Helping Hands event today. Fundraise the fair trade way! Know someone who loves coffee or has a sweet tooth? Equal Exchange offers an amazing fundraising opportunity for those interested in selling treats. Choose from delicious chocolate and coffee and earn 40% profit. Everything you need to get started can be found HERE! Do you like gathering your community for fun events or hosting friends? Serrv offers a fun way to share fair trade with your community. Through CRS Community Orders choose from hundreds of handmade fair trade gifts from around the world and earn 20% profit. Everything you need to get started can be found HERE.

80gStack_CMYK_layers_merged_720x484_72_RGB I wonder what my fundraising days would have looked like if these had been around when I was a kid. If I had known more about the people who made the products would I have been more inclined to share the story and the impact? I think so! Thankfully, times have changed. So, I hope these fundraising options offer you and your community a fun new opportunity. Make a difference through your purchases and fundraise the fair trade way today!

Erin Mackey works on the CRS Fair Trade team and is passionate about living her faith as an ethical consumer.

7 Ways to be a Good Steward of the Harvest

“The earth has yielded its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.” -Psalm 67:7

Fall, the season of harvest, is the perfect time to reflect on the Earth’s abundance. Yet, not all people have their share of the abundance God has given us. Approximately 800 million people suffer from hunger worldwide.

In Tanzania, Mama Teddy used seeds from CRS to grow healthy food–both for sale and to feed to her three children. Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

On October 16, World Food Day 2016 takes these overlapping issues into account with its theme, “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.” As the pope reminds us in Laudato Si’, we must recognize our call to respond to “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” In observance of World Food Day, we invite you to use the following seven steps in your daily life to become a better steward of Earth’s harvests:

  1. Waste less. Did you know that one-third of the food produced for human consumption is either lost during production or wasted by consumers? When we waste food, we’re discarding food that could have fed our hungry brothers and sisters. Food waste also has a grave environmental impact, as it accounts for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. SaveTheFood.com has tips on how to reduce food waste, including information on proper storage of produce, advice on freezing leftovers and guides for planning meals so you’re sure to eat everything you buy.
  2. Eat simply. It takes 8 times more water to produce 1 pound of beef than to produce 1 pound of soybeans. Eating meat-free, even if only for a couple of days each week, puts less of a strain on Earth’s resources and makes more food and water available for our human family. Check out CRS Rice Bowl’s archive of meatless meal recipes for delicious ways to eat simply!
  3. Support farmers. Buying food

    Suzy, a rice farmer in Madagascar, switched to a more bountiful system of rice farming with help from CRS. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

    locally is not only a great way to support the livelihoods of farmers in your community, but it also reduces your carbon footprint, since your food isn’t being transported great distances to be sold. Find a farmers market near you!
  4. Advocate. U.S. policies impact people worldwide. Let Congress know you care about hunger by lending your voice to support policies that help the most vulnerable.
  5. Donate. CRS is partnering with farmers around the world whose incomes have been jeopardized by the changing environment. These farmers are learning new skills and techniques so that they are still able to generate an income and put food on the table. By supporting CRS, you are supporting these farmers and others who face the effects of natural disaster and hunger.
  6. Learn more. Building awareness about hunger and changing weather patterns is an essential step toward positive change. Take some time to educate yourself and your community on these issues and the many ways that they are connected to each other.
  7. Pray. Prayer helps us to be in right relationship, not only with God and our neighbor, but also with all of creation. Use CRS’ “Live Mercy: Feed the Hungry” small group faith-sharing resource to help your community reflect on this important issue. Or, pray this short prayer before meals to remain mindful of the harvest that we’re called to steward and share.
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