Winter 2006 The Sower Newsletter, Floresta


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Winter 2006 The Sower Newsletter, Floresta

  1. 1. Winter 2006 A Publication of Floresta USA, Inc. Director’s Corner Unpacking Floresta’s By Scott Sabin, Executive Director Mission Statement,Every two years Floresta gathers its leaders from around the world and Part 3: “We teach”brings them together for a week of meetings - to plan, to strategize, to Floresta, a Christian nonprofit organization,learn how to better work together, to share what has worked, and to in- reverses deforestation and poverty in the worldcrease our unity of vision. We just hosted that meeting at our headquar- by transforming the lives of the rural poor. Weters in San Diego, in conjunction with our Harvest of Nations banquet. teach, we plant, we create enterprise, and we share the gospel. Members of Floresta’s In the last issue of The Sower, we looked at international delegation the “Virtuous Cycle:” the process Floresta visit Mount Soledad in San Diego during the uses to reverse the vicious cycle of poverty International Meeting and environmental degradation. This in November. quarter’s feature article, the third in a series of discussions designed to acquaint Sower readers with Floresta’s mission and vision, discusses the first of the four tools Floresta uses to create the virtuous cycle. The words The international staff “we teach” reflect the tool of Community is introduced at Floresta’s Harvest of Development, the first critical step in help- Nations Banquet. ing members of a community identify and resolve their own problems. Community Development is essen- tially the process of empowerment, and It was a thrill to welcome Edith Banzi, the director of Floresta Tanza- an effort to create a long-term change in ania, to the meeting for the first time. It was also exciting to see just how continued on page 2...........................................much all of us have grown in our capacity since we last got together inOaxaca two years ago. We have also become much more cohesive – thereis definitely a sense of one unified Floresta team, made up of Floresta In This Issue:USA, Floresta Haiti, Floresta Dominican Republic, Misión Integral, andFloresta Tanzania. DEPARTMENTS: Director’s Corner ................................. 1 With four different native languages represented in the room, Span- Faces of Floresta ................................. 3ish seems to be the one that the majority of the delegates can most com- Volunteer of the Quarter ...................... 4fortably work in. So the meetings are in Spanish with English translations For Our Seedlings ................................ 5and a smattering of Creole and Swahili. FEATURES: In our five days of meetings we worked through a new evaluation Mission Statement Defined/Pt. 3 .......... 1system to measure our lasting impact on the lives of the people we work Village Spotlight .................................. 4with. We are very good at measuring our activities – the number of trees Breaking Floresta News ....................... 6 Grandparents Climb ............................. 7planted, the number of loans made, the growth of the local church – but Floresta Annual Banquet ...................... 7we want to get better at understanding the impacts: the improvementscontinued on page 3............................................................................................. THE SOWER Winter 2006 | 1
  2. 2. ......................................................................continued from page 1 ing. A woman there stood up and said, “Another organiza- community’s attitude. Rather than dictate to the poor how tion was here. They gave us food and left.” She went on to their problems “should” be resolved, Floresta encourages list several other organizations who had come, given them rural communities to take ownership of their own problems, handouts of food, clothing, or money, and then left shortly giving them the self-confidence to seek out and apply local after. She finished by asking, “How are you going to be any solutions. The poor must believe and trust in the abilities different!?” Floresta told her, “First of all, we are not going they have been gifted with, and must have ownership of the to give you anything. Second, we are not going to leave until process of reshaping their future. you are ready for us to go.” With the help of Floresta, community members in Kava- nac began working to improve their situation. They formed a credit cooperative, which made and continues to make hundreds of small business loans. They planted thousands of trees, improved crop yields on their farms, and learned to work cooperatively to conserve and improve water resources. Some community members even donated a portion of the profits from their new businesses to start a fund which was used to build the first church in the community. Several years later, in another meeting in Kavanac, a different woman stood up and excitedly shared, “What Flo- resta has given us is the knowledge that we are not helpless - that God has given us talents we can use to improve our own situation!” Community members in Haiti meet to identify some common problems during a Participatory Rural Appraisal. Too often in the places where Floresta works, we find that the poor have been misled into believing they have no talents. Yet, as Jesus shows us through the Parable of the Tal- ents in Matthew 25, we each have God-given gifts and abili- ties to be used and shared for our good and the good of our community. Through community development, Floresta aims to help the poor uncover those talents which they may have “buried in the ground.” We then help individuals and communities to release these talents, utilizing their unique gifts to take hold of their problems, develop their own solutions, and ultimately build a better future. The result is a restoration of people’s dignity, an increase in technical knowledge, and an ability to initiate change. One way in which Floresta helps communities to take ownership of their own problems and set the process of Farmers in Tanzania work with Floresta staff during a Participatory development in motion is by conducting Participatory Rural Rural Appraisal. Assessments (PRAs). Each time Floresta begins work in a This is what Floresta means when we talk about com- new area, we start by meeting with local community mem- munity development. The process can take a long time, but bers, asking them to identify some of their problems and results are profound and will continue long after Floresta is then to brainstorm possible solutions. This way, the poor gone. Community development is a fundamental first step are able to create a vision for a better future that is truly in Floresta’s “tool set,” as it paves the way for all the tools their own. and teaching that follow in our programs. In the next Sower Floresta’s success in creating community development issue, we will look at the second tool, “we plant,” and discuss is exemplified by an experience we had in the village of how Floresta is employing innovative agriculture and forestry Kavanac in Haiti. The first time Floresta staff visited Kavanac techniques to restore their suffering environments and in 1998, about fifty farmers attended the community meet- replenish their natural resources.2 | THE SOWER Winter 2006 visit
  3. 3. Faces of Floresta: ...........................................continued from page 1 to the environment, to people’s health and Edith Banzi well being, and to their spiritual lives. We also discussed ways to improve our holisticEdith Banzi joined the Floresta family in 2004, ministry and discipleship, worked throughand since then has played an instrumental role some of the challenges associated with localin helping Floresta expand work to include governing boards in each of the countries,our newest program in Tanzania. Edith serves and gave the visiting delegates the opportu-as Director of Floresta Tanzania and oversees nity to better understand how the US officeall aspects of the program there, including interacts with foundations, donors, and vil-reforestation projects and Village Community lage sponsors.Banking (VICOBA) systems. Under her direc-tion, Floresta Tanzania has grown to includeapproximately 1,000 farmer participants in tenTanzanian communities in just two years! Edith displays one of the fuelBirthplace: Tarime, an area in the Northern efficient stoves Floresta providespart of Tanzania near the famous Lake Victoria to farmers in Tanzania.Number of years working with Floresta: 2How you came to Floresta: I was introduced to Bob Morikawa (Floresta’sTechnical Director) through another program. We met and had a longdiscussion that ultimately resulted in my current job.Reason for working with Floresta: Floresta is a playground for exploring mycapabilities! I wanted to help others toward progress, and this was the rightplace.Favorite part of Floresta’s work: Empowering people to make decisions and The international delegation atop Mount Soledadsolve their own problems. When the disempowered become empowered, Ifeel exhilarated. Of course it is rare to have everyone here, so we take advantage of every momentFavorite Floresta memory: In July 2006, a group of about 14 people from with church visits, receptions, and an appear-San Diego visited our program in Tanzania. This was a wonderful time for ance by all of the delegates at the Harvest ofall of us to share and see what is going on in the communities. Nations event. With all of that, there was still a little time for barbeques, shopping, and aHobbies/interests: Meeting people, cooking, reading books, traveling visit to Sea World before most of the group left to attend ECHO’s Agricultural MissionsFavorite book: The Bible: it has all the information we need for our work. Conference in Florida.Each verse in the Bible is wonderful and has a great message for us and our We’ll all be working together closely overcommunities. the next two years and relishing the friend- ships we reinforced this past week, but weFavorite quote: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and un- look forward to our next meeting in Haiti insearchable things you do not know.” - Jeremiah 33:3 2008 when we will all be together again.One or two unique/interesting facts about you: I like helping and listening Thanks for your continued support,to people, and cooperating with people of different ages, rich or poor. Thishelps me accomplish my work with Floresta.Call 800.633.5319 THE SOWER Winter 2006 | 3
  4. 4. Volunteer of the Quarter: Village Spotlight: Moren, Haiti Rebekka Tonne In the Haitian community of Moren, nearly 70 families are benefiting from Though not the first intern Floresta has Floresta’s programs. During the last year, more than 22 acres of hillside welcomed to our San Diego offices, Rebekka were protected there, thanks to soil conservation techniques that farmers Tonne has the unique distinction of having are now utilizing. What’s more, 2,000 trees were planted as part of refor- traveled the greatest distance to volunteer estation efforts. Loans granted to community members through Floresta’s her time and talents here – she flew all the credit program are enabling many farmers and business owners to improve way from Europe! A student at Cologne their incomes and their business. University in Germany, Bekki was searching One of Moren’s farmers who has benefited greatly from Floresta’s for a meaningful way to spend the last couple programs is a man named Jean Marie Forvil. Mr. Forvil has been a member months of her summer break between of the Moren group since it was first founded in 1997. Since then, he has semesters. She heard about Floresta from seen many people in his village benefit from Floresta’s programs, and the a friend of her father’s (Floresta supporter small group of initial participants in Floresta’s work has now grown greatly Ray Traynor), and after a few international in size. As members of this community see their lives begin to change (in- phone calls bravely decided to, as she says, A Floresta farmer in Moren stands “take a chance and fly out!” In September, proudly next to a new cistern that is she arrived in San Diego and spent 5 weeks helping to provide a steady water supply hard at work, helping to plan Floresta’s for his community. “Harvest of Nations” banquet, assisting with PR efforts, and preparing Sponsor a Village materials. As an economics and sociology major at University, Bekki was particularly interested in Floresta’s use of microcredit to help poor farmers climb out of poverty. “I was amazed to see what people do with their loans,” she Children work together to says. “The small loans are really effective in plant trees during a reforestation activity in Moren. allowing people to grow and to better their communities without becoming dependent on handouts.” cluding the ability to send their children to school or buy seeds for their In the brief time she spent here, Bekki farms), they are motivated to join in the exciting work Floresta is doing. quickly became a member of the Floresta Mr. Forvil has not been the only one to benefit from his participation in family. Her kindness, creativity, and dedica- the group: he has generously shared his new knowledge on soil conserva- tion were a blessing and an inspiration to all tion and composting with his family and neighbors so they may benefit as of us. (She even braved San Diego’s public well! Mr Forvil has been able to increase his savings by twenty times since transportation system, taking the bus and he joined Floresta - an exceptional accomplishment in a place where sav- riding a bike to our offices each day!) “While ing money had once seemed virtually impossible. He says he is “grateful to at Floresta, I learned a lot about all the dif- God and Floresta” for his improved quality of life and the new hope he is ferent tasks involved in working for a non- experiencing. profit,” she says. “I also Jean Marie Forvil’s success would not have been possible without his learned about my own village sponsors, whose support has helped Floresta establish loan pro- strengths, and I now feel grams in Moren and many other communities around the world. For $30 that there are definitely a month, you can support a village like Moren, receiving regular updates places in the nonprofit and photos from the village. In addition, first time village sponsors who industry where I can fit sign up with an automatic payment option will have their first year’s dona- in.” We can’t help but tion matched! That means your $30-a-month sponsorship will automati- wholeheartedly agree. cally bring in an additional $360 to help your village. Sign up now on the Thanks, Bekki! enclosed envelope, visit our website, or call us at 858-274-3718 to take advantage of the opportunity to partner with a transforming village!4 | THE SOWER Winter 2006 visit
  5. 5. For Our Little Seedlings!Floresta helps farmers all over the world by teaching them to and neighbors. Farmers also sell the extra food from theirplant and care for special family gardens. In these gardens, gardens and use the money they earn to pay for their chil-farmers and their families grow many healthy fruits and veg- dren to go to school.etables to eat. Sometimes their gardens grow so well, they Try to answer the following clues to find the “gardenhave extra fruits and vegetables to share with their friends words” in the crossword puzzle below! 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11ACROSS DOWN1. a place where seeds are planted and grown 1. “Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your3. when fruits and vegetables are ripe, they can garden ___________?” be _________ed 2. apples, oranges, and bananas are all types of these5. every plant starts out as a tiny ___________ 4. peas, carrots, and broccoli are all examples of these6. another word for H2O7. something you do with a shovel8. farmers sometimes do this with their extra fruits and vegetables9. plants need soil, water, and plenty of this to grow10. another word for dirt11. wiggly creatures that live in the soilCall 800.633.5319 THE SOWER Winter 2006 | 5
  6. 6. Breaking News: What’s new at Floresta Floresta gets a makeover! Here in the Floresta offices, we’ve been hard at work for the last few months creating a fresh new “look” for Floresta. This includes an updated version of our logo and, as you may have already noticed, a complete makeover for The Sower! In addition, Floresta is proud to debut our brand new, 12-page, full color brochure! If you’re interested in a copy (or two!), please contact our offices at 800-633-5319 or and we’ll be happy to send some your way. And just as a reminder, The Sower is also available as an e-newsletter now. If you prefer to receive your Sower issues by email, or if you’d like to receive quarterly Sower emails in addition to your mailed copy, please sign up on our website ( or email Chelsea Klaseus at Be an Advocate in Your Church If you would like to get your church involved with Floresta please contact our office and we will be happy to work with you on establishing a partnership with your church. We have numerous opportu- nities for your church to get involved with what Floresta is doing around the world, but we need your help! Call today to get your church involved! 1-800-633-5319 Alternative Christmas Trees: just in time for the holidays! This holiday season, give your loved ones a “Christmas tree” that will last for generations! Floresta is offering a great gift idea for co-workers, friends or family – the ability to plant trees in the countries where Floresta works: places where deforestation has damaged the soil, robbing farmers of their income and causing devastating landslides. You can purchase tiny seedlings that grow into tall pine, oak and mahogany trees, helping thousands of families in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Africa and Mexico to break the cycle of poverty and renew the environment. And, as an added benefit, trees consume carbon dioxide - offsetting the effects of all those car engines idling in shopping cen- ter parking lots this Christmas! For only $20, you can provide 20 trees to a community in honor of a friend or family member. You’ll receive a gift card (printed on recycled paper) announcing your purchase. It’s the perfect idea for a stocking stuffer, office gift, or to mail out as your regular holiday card! To learn more on ordering your “Alternative Christmas Trees,” log onto cards.html or call our offices at 1-800-633-5319.6 | THE SOWER Winter 2006 visit
  7. 7. Grandparents Climb Mount Kilimanjaro! Floresta’s Annual BanquetEditor’s note: This July, a group of Floresta staff, board members, volunteers, and a “Harvest” to Remembertheir families took a trip to visit Floresta’s program in Tanzania. While there, they We’re delighted to announce that this year’sspent a week climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Among the climbers was Shirley Billing- banquet fundraiser, “Harvest of Nations,” wassley, an active Floresta supporter. A grandmother of four, Shirley made it all the way a great success! The event was held Octoberto the crater at the top of the mountain. Here, in her own words, she reflects on the 28th at the Hyatt Islandia Hotel in Missionexperience: Bay, and raised over $115,000 for Floresta’s programs worldwide. In addition to exciting live and silent auctions, the evening featured a wonderful performance by the Point Loma Singers, and the debut of a documentary on Floresta’s work in Oaxaca by director John Paget. Adding to the festivities were some very special guests: seven members of our interna- tional staff from Mexico, Haiti, Tanzania, and the Dominican Republic were in attendance to share in the celebration of Floresta’s work. Thank you to all the donors, volunteers, andStephanie Coon, Barry and Shirley Billingsley pause for a rest during their 7 day more than 300 attendees who helped makehike up Mount Kilimanjaro. this the most successful banquet in Floresta’s history. We look forward to seeing you again“I couldn’t imagine why I felt God nudging me repeatedly to go with the next year at “Seeds of Change,” a gala fund-Floresta group in July to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, work in Flo- raiser that promises to be Floresta’s best yet!resta villages, and go on a safari. I had fears: age, energy, abilities, to namea few. God said, ‘Go and trust me totally.’ With my husband, Barry, and mydaughter, Stephanie, also as a part of the group, I soon found myself on theside of Mt. Kilimanjaro for seven days and on top of the crater for aboutseven seconds! Three fascinating days of working with the villagers aroundthe Floresta office in Marangu followed. Was I impressed with the impactFloresta’s training has made in the lives of so many in that area! The vil-lagers were so proud of their successful crops, their new animal husbandrypractices, the tree farms they’ve started, and the opportunities they arecreating for small business loans through their own community savingsprogram. We witnessed how Floresta Tanzania is changing lives!! Why did I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro? It’s an attention-grabber. People arecurious about ‘old’ people being so audacious as to attempt such a thing.When asked, we tell people a little about the extraordinary mountain expe-rience – then we tell them a lot about what God is doing through Florestain Africa!! That headline got your attention, didn’t it?! God works in mysteriousways…”- Shirley Billingsley, grandmother of four and mountain-climber! The Sower Issue #75. The Sower is published quarterly by Floresta USA 4903 Morena Blvd., Suite 1215 San Diego, California 92117 Ph: (858) 274-3718, (800) 633-5319. Fax: (858) 274-3728 www.floresta.orgCall 800.633.5319 THE SOWER Winter 2006 | 7
  8. 8. Get inspired by two grandparents who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! (page 7) Get informed about Floresta’s unique work in community development (page 4) Get going on your Christmas shopping with aFloresta farmer Juan de los Santos in the Dominican community of Zumbador special gift from Floresta! (page 6) ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED (858) 274-3718 San Diego, CA 92117 OCEANSIDE, CA 4903 Morena Blvd., Suite 1215 PERMIT NO. 236 PAID U.S. POSTAGE NON PROFIT ORG.