Spring 2006 The Sower Newsletter, Floresta


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Spring 2006 The Sower Newsletter, Floresta

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Spring 2006 The Sower Newsletter, Floresta

  1. 1. A Publication of Floresta USA, Inc. Spring 2006 Director’s Corner Unpacking Floresta’s By Scott Sabin, Executive Director Mission Statement: “Harambee, Har-ambee, Harambee” the The Vicious Cycle women sang as they danced down the aisle, waving Tanzanian shilling notes joyfully “Floresta, a Christian nonprofit organization, reverses deforestation and poverty in the world by transform- ing the lives of the rural poor. We teach, we plant, we create enterprise, and we share the gospel.” Packed within the few words of Floresta’s mission statement is the foundation for a uniquely creative, wide-reaching holistic ministry. More than just an overarching ideal, the statement communicates a prob- lem, a vision for solving it, and a four-part methodology for accomplishing this vision. Explaining a deceptively simple mission statement like this can sometimes be a com-Floresta Tanzania community members view auction items at plicated job for our staff, volunteers, andVICOBA fundraiser. even our beneficiaries! This quarter’s feature article looks at the first part of the mission statement – the problem – and marks the above their heads before placing them in first in a series of discussions designed to ac- the basket at the head table. Harambee is a quaint Sower readers with Floresta’s mission Swahili word, meaning “Let’s pull togeth- and vision as it relates to our work er.” It also refers to the type of community internationally. fundraiser in which we were participating. Earlier that afternoon as we worked on our strategic plan, Floresta Tanzania director Edith Banzi had talked to me about local fundraising events, and I had been skepti- cal. As I watched these women singing, however, my skepticism vanished. We were at a fundraiser for one of three Village Community Banks or VI- COBA groups that we have established to help Tanzanian villagers save money and generate capital for small businesses. It is a different approach for us, involving no direct contribution of money from Flo- resta. During our first year in Tanzania, we experimented with making small loans for agroforestry and microenterprises, as we A mountainside in Haiti once covered in trees is now have done in our other programs, but barren, the result of deforestation. See Director’s Corner on page 7 See Mission Statement on page 6
  2. 2. Faces of Floresta: Bob Morikawa forget everything you and God talked about. You spend the rest of your life trying to recall that conversation. Bob Morikawa on a Favorite part of your job: Being stretched and challenged in recent trip to Flores- so many ways. I really love trekking through the countryside, ta’s US offices this hunting down tree seed, and sharing with farmers who have a February passion for collecting and growing seed. Favorite Floresta memory: Sitting cross-legged and exhaust- ed on the porch of a stilted wooden hut in northern Thailand, eating upland rice, bamboo shoots, catfish, forest peppers,Here at Floresta USA, volunteers and supporters are some- local forest greens, and sipping tea with the sun going downtimes surprised to learn that our program staff is much larger behind rugged green hills.than our 6-person San Diego office implies. In fact, Florestais made up of a diverse family of dedicated, talented indi- Hobbies/interests: canoeing, camping, cross-countryviduals working across the globe! The Sower’s newest item, skiing, volleyball, sudoku“Faces of Floresta,” will feature a Q&A designed to help ac- Favorite book: Shogun by James Clavellquaint readers with a different member of our internationalstaff each quarter, and to explain their role in carrying out Favorite quote: “Honest criticism is hard to take, particu-Floresta’s work and mission. larly from family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers.” This month’s featured employee is Bob Morikawa, – Mark Twain.Floresta’s Technical Director. An expert in tropical agro- Interesting fact about you: My middle name, Tamotsu,forestry, Bob lives in Canada but spends over 75% of the means Protector in Japanese, and my last name, Morikawa,year away from home, working directly with farmers in means Forest River.Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Tanzania. Onhis extended program visits, Bob supervises and evaluates The Sower is Now Availableprogram operations and works to develop new research onthe best and most effective agroforestry techniques for the by Email!areas where Floresta is working. He also looks for new places The latestwhere Floresta’s programs are needed, and is a key member news fromin the planning and development of Floresta’s latest initia- Floresta istive: the trans-border project between Haiti and the Domini- now avail-can Republic. able at yourBirthplace: Brantford Ontario, also the birthplace of mailboxWayne Gretsky and your inbox!Number of years working with Floresta: 7 years as a We areconsultant, 2 as full-time employee excited to announceBrief job description: I assist with the start up of new pro- that Thegrams and help existing programs develop new innovations Sower willin agroforestry, soil conservation, and agriculture. be avail-Motivation for working with Floresta: It’s my calling, I able as an e-newsletter beginning with our Summerthink. Richard Bolles author of the famous career counseling 2006 issue. If you prefer to receive future Sower issues bybook, What Color is Your Parachute? wrote an apocryphal tale email rather than in paper form, or if you’d like to receivedescribing how before you are born, you and God are looking quarterly Sower emails in addition to your mailed copy,down on the earth. You have this long and intimate conversa- please sign up on our website (www.floresta.org), contacttion, talking about all the things you are supposed to do while our offices at 858-274-3718, or email Chelsea Klaseus atyou’re on earth. Then you are born and immediately chelsea@floresta.org. The Sower
  3. 3. Build a TerrariumFloresta farmers working in dry areassometimes grow plants in special indoorfarms so they get plenty of moisture andprotection. Tomatoes in Mexico, forinstance, are grown under a large tarpthat holds moisture in and keeps harmfulinsects out.You can build a terrarium at home to seehow these farms work on a smaller scale.Terrariums are small containers that act as “mini gardens” to grow plants thatneed a lot of moisture. Seeds planted ina terrarium are easy to grow: after theyare planted and watered once, they don’tneed much more than some time and alittle sunlight!Ingredients:• Empty plastic, 2 liter soda bottle with cap• Scissors or a craft knife• Potting soil• Seeds – any variety• Water Directions: 6. Lightly sprinkle water on top of the seeds and soil. 1. Remove the label from the soda bottle and 7. Place the cap back on the top of the soda bottle. throw away. 8. Fit the top of the soda bottle back onto the base 2. Wash and rinse out the bottle and cap. filled with soil and seeds. 3. Ask an adult to help you use scissors or a craft 9. Place bottle in a sunny spot, and watch seeds start knife to cut the bottle across in a straight line, a to grow! few inches from the bottom. 4. Take the bottom of the bottle and fill it lightly After your seeds have sprouted and are ready, you with potting soil. can take them from the terrarium and transplant them 5. Plant a few seeds in the soil. in your garden!The Sower
  4. 4. Village Spotlight: San Andres Nuxiño One of the it’s been said that the group is an example to follow. It’s a wonderful real testament that things can be done when there is a will to outcomes of work and organize.” Floresta’s Agronomist Raul Casaos now Floresta’s pro- has plans to establish three additional greenhouses in other grams is that communities participating The testimony of success from communities like San An- villages often dres Nuxiño would not exist without our dedicated sponsors. become “lights For $30 a month, donors are able to partner with a village on a hill” – like San Andres Nuxiño, receiving regular updates and photos witnesses to from the village. Plus, first time Village Sponsors who sign up surrounding with an automatic payment option will have their first year’sFloresta farmers in San Andres Nuxiño proudly communities donation matched! That means your $30-a-month sponsor-display their greenhouse’s first harvest of tomoatoes. who behold ship will automatically bring in an additional $360 to helpthe transformation taking place among their neighbors. The your village. Sign up now on the enclosed envelope, visit ourcommunity of San Andres Nuxiño in Mexico is an illustra- website, or call us at 858-274-3718 to take advantage of thetion of just how well a small light can spread: the testimony opportunity to partner with a transforming village!of the excellent work being done there has caused many -neighboring communities to begin implementing Floresta’s Floresta Website UpdatesSan Andresprograms for themselves. In San Andres Nuxiño, Floresta has been training farmersin sustainable agricultural and reforestation techniques whichhave resulted in improved nutrition and increased income forNuxiñomany families. One example is a recently established tomatogreenhouse, which is run cooperatively by seven families in thecommunity. The greenhouse is flourishing, and a few buyershave already offered to buy the entire harvest! Sr. Luis Acevedo, a citizen of San Andres Nuxiño,declares, “I am very thankful for God and Floresta because weare learning something new with the operation of green-houses…what was once a dream is now a reality and is be-ginning to impact the political authorities and community; We’ve been hard at work updating the Floresta website! Check out www.floresta.org to see the latest improve- ments, including downloadable versions of past and recent Annual Reports and 990s, archived Sower issues, and up-to-date program information. Check back often – more changes and updates are in progress! And while you’re online, check out Floresta’s blog, “The Trees” for access to breaking news, program updates, and an opportunity to comment. Point your browser to www.floresta777.blogspot.com and join the conversation! The Sower
  5. 5. Volunteer of the Quarter: Fundraising NewsTricia Elisara Matching opportunities successful inA hard-working director of her own non-profit organization, raising new funds!mother of two young boys, and volunteer at several Christian Last year, Floresta initiated its “Matched Sponsorships” environmental program, thanks to an anonymous donor who promised to organizations, Tricia match, dollar for dollar, the first year contributions of all Elisara still manages to devote a signifi- donors who pledged automatic recurring monthly dona- cant amount of her tions. Floresta’s Village Sponsors, for instance, can double time to Floresta as their financial impact, as their $30/month donation triggers an active volunteer an automatic $360 in matched contributions. This gener- and a valued board ous offer has already been a tremendous success, and has member. Tricia’s greatly increased Floresta’s incoming monthly donations! involvement with In other “matching news,” Floresta was recently honored Tricia Elisara visits with Floresta Incorpo- Floresta began in to receive a challenge grant from one of its supporting rada’s Director Carlos Disla during a trip to 1995, when she foundations. Through this opportunity, the foundation will the Dominican Republic. met Scott Sabin and match up to $10,000 in funding Floresta receives from new began assisting with donors and/or new foundations during the next year.Floresta’s banquets. In 2002, she joined the board of directors,and her extensive knowledge and experience, together with herpassion for environmental stewardship, have contributed im-mensely to Floresta ever since. This year, Tricia took on the responsibility of planningFloresta’s first-ever board retreat, held February 3rd to 5th in themountains of Julian, California. Tricia envisioned a threefoldmission for this year’s retreat, in which board members would “Creation care is part of God’s story –gratefully receiving and joyfully participating in all He has blessed us with.”be able to spend significant time in prayer and worship, learnin greater detail about Floresta’s work, and ultimately get toknow one another on a more personal level. “I believe stronglyin a relational approach to ministry,” she explains, “and I had avision for a retreat designed to build stronger relationships be-tween board members, who would then be equipped to work Breaking Newstogether creatively and strategically.” Floresta named a “Shining Light” by Tricia, whose interest in environmental stewardship be- Wall Watchersgan during a college semester spent in Costa Rica, has dedi-cated much of her career and spare time to issues of creation In February, Floresta was honored to be selected as onecare. She and her husband, Chris, founded the organization of Wall Watchers’ “Shining Light Ministries,” and will be“Creation Care Study Program,” which provides Christian featured on MinistryWatch.com, the organization’s onlinecollege students with the opportunity to study abroad in database which profiles hundreds of nonprofit organizationsBelize or the South Pacific, learning about local ecosystems in an effort to keep Christians informed about opportuni-while participating in outdoor adventures and getting ac-quainted with a new culture. “My desire to stay involved in ties for responsible giving. Find out more by visiting ourglobal ministry,” she says, stems from her belief that “creation website (www.floresta.org) or stay tuned for more details incare is part of God’s story – gratefully receiving and joyfully the next Sower issue!participating in all He has blessed us with.”The Sower
  6. 6. Mission Statement - Cont’d from page 1Part 1: The Problem In turn, much environmental destruction is the result ofBeneath Floresta’s mission statement is the assumption of a economic need. As crop yields suffer from poor soil qual-problem: the fundamental connection between poverty anddeforestation in poor, rural regions of developing countries.While poverty and deforestation each present their own setof problems, neither issue is independent of the other – thisis what we refer to as the “vicious cycle”, and putting an endto it is the very heart of Floresta’s work. Deforestation is among the major causes of poverty andhuman suffering in the countries where we work. In many Forests are sacrificed as trees are cut for firewood in Oaxaca. ity, the need for an alternate, immediate source of income becomes increasingly urgent. In exercising the only methods they know to sustain their families, farmers are paradoxically destroying their primary source of sustenance. As the cycle repeats, the land becomes increasingly barren, its people further entrenched in poverty. The vicious cycle creates a rapidly deepening chasm from which rural farmers often see little hope of escape. Only by Note scope of riverbed erosion simultaneously addressing both the economic and environ- in comparison to size of man mental sides of this vicious cycle can it truly be broken. ThisA dry riverbed sits below deforested hillsides in the Dominican is why the key to Floresta’s solutions lies in reversing theRepublic, the result of a catastophic mudslide. entire series of events by creating a new, “virtuous cycle” that restores the land while strengthening the economy. In theparts of the developing world, wood and charcoal are still next issue of The Sower, we will look at this virtuous cycle,primary fuel sources. Poor farmers in these countries of- and its unique but realistic approach in solving these difficultten survive through subsistence farming – growing barely problems.enough food to eat, let alone take to the market. In a desper-ate attempt to earn a meager, temporary income, these farm-ers turn to the forests, where they cut trees for firewood andcharcoal production. Unfortunately, the rampant deforestation caused by poorfarmers has devastating effects on the local ecosystem as wellas the local economy. As trees begin to diminish, so does thepotential for farms – even subsistence farms – to survive.Trees help soil to absorb water and protect it from erosion.Without them, rainwater cannot permeate the soil, resultingin a loss of moisture. For farmers working without irrigation,this quickly becomes a matter of life and death. Likewise,trees help anchor soil in watershed regions. When hillsidesare robbed of these anchors, entire villages become vulner-able to flooding, mudslides, and subsequent destruction on a Tree stumps provide evidence of rampant deforestation along the Halfmassive scale. Mile Strip at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The Sower
  7. 7. Director’s Corner - Cont’d from page 1 At this particular fundraising event, a VICOBA group from a neighboring region, which had provided training as- sistance to the Floresta groups, was invited, along with local politicians, church leaders and wealthier citizens. Sitting at the head table with the special guests, I saw presentations on vegetable gardens, fuel efficient stoves and reforestation, and then watched the group members contribute their shares. The guests marveled at the discipline of the group and laughed at the degree to which the fine collector seemed to relish his job. (To be honest, I was a little anxious when the village secretary, sitting next to me, was fined for having his arms folded during the clapping, but was later told that as a non-member, I was immune.) Then the fundraising portion of the afternoon began, and as all eighty of us sang “harambee,” each of the guests was expected to dance forward and contribute. By the end of the afternoon, after all the vegetables and tree seedlings were auctioned off, nearly $500 had been raised for the Mshiri village loan fund…and I had some great ideas for Floresta USA’s next fundraising dinner.Kimaro raises money for VICOBA by auctioning produce.found the loans extraordinarily hard to collect. Experienceelsewhere in Africa has shown that people have a tendency tohave much greater respect for loans that they take from moneycontributed by themselves and their neighbors. Thus weturned to the VICOBA system, which originates in Africa. Each of our three VICOBA groups has about 30 mem-bers, mostly women. The meetings, which take place weekly,have the feel of a pep rally, full of unison chants and motiva-tional songs. Members are expected to contribute between one Meeting of Kokirie VICOBA groupand three shares, with each share being worth approximatelyone dollar. The money is kept in a metal box with three locks, Floresta’s Missionand the three keys are held by different officers of the group, Floresta, a Christian nonprofit organization, reverseswhich makes opening the box a collective effort. deforestation and poverty in the world by transforming To build group solidarity, a complicated protocol is fol- the lives of the rural poor.lowed. When people contribute, the shares are referred to as We teach, we plant, we create enterprise and we share the gospel.“bunches of bananas” or “cows.” Other members of the groupclap once for each share brought forward and conclude by Issue #74.snapping their fingers. Fines are assessed on members who are The Sower is published quarterly by Floresta USAlate or who violate some aspect of the protocol. Fines are mini- 4903 Morena Blvd., Suite 1215,mal and good natured, but together with the interest charged San Diego, California 92117on loans, go towards building the loan capital that groups Ph: (858) 274-3718, (800)633-5319.have available to their members. Fax: (858)-274-3728 • www.floresta.orgThe Sower
  8. 8. In This Issue:New Model for Loans inTanzania (Director’sCorner, p. 1)Director’s Corner ..........................1Mission Statement Defined/Pt. 1 ..1Faces of Floresta ...........................2Kid’s Page .....................................3Village Spotlight ...........................4 Floresta agrono-mist Albert Samsondemonstrates treeplanting techniquesalong the Half MileStrip in Tanzania. ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED (858) 274-3718 San Diego, CA 92117 4903 Morena Blvd., Suite 1215PERMIT NO. 1717 SAN DIEGO, CA PAID U.S. POSTAGENON PROFIT ORG.