eggplant ladyMarie Fan stands proudly, holding one of her prized eggplants for me to see. It is huge! Brilliantly purple and larger than any eggplant I have ever seen, she had just plucked it from one of her 135 eggplant plants in the field she is currently harvesting with her husband. Besides eggplant, she also has cassava, peanuts, beans, corn, onions, hot peppers, and 41 tomato plants. 41! That is a lot of tomatoes!!

Marie Fan and her husband have 6 biological children, all of which still live with them. To this large family, they added her brother’s two children when he died, plus two additional orphaned children. Now, with 10 children to raise, their garden, along with the goats provided by AFCA, has become a source of income and of stability for the family. From renting a small hut to now leasing to buy, this family has dreams and it all started with some training, 4 goats, garden tools, and seeds.

The gardens – yes, multiple gardens - are amazing. They are well kept and maintained. It is easy to see that there is pride in how this garden is looked after and it is understandable why the family puts so much effort into it. While providing food for the large family, excess vegetables were initially sold with the sole purpose of paying for entrance exams for the older children to go to high school. They all passed their exams and all the school aged children are attending school daily. With the sale of corn, their uniforms were purchased, as well as their schoolbooks and supplies. Let me repeat: every school aged child in this family is going to school! I could feel Marie Fan’s joy and pride as she revealed this fact, this seeming impossibility – that eight of the children are in school and that the youngest two will join school as soon as they are old enough. What a mystery this whole thing is to the family – that someone far, far away though that they are important enough to invest in. That someone who does not know them decided that they have value and that they deserve a future.

This mystery is no longer foreign to them, though, because they now are the givers. They made the decision as a family that excess peanuts would not be sold, but rather, given to others who need them. The poor giving to the poorer. The hopeful giving hope to the hopeless. What joy there is in giving!

We invite you to register for #PassMyPlate and be part of this cycle of giving. Check it out! This just might what you’ve been looking for. Click below for more information.

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