A small man with a wide smile, Martin Modeawan shakes my hand vigorously when I visit him. He grins as he welcomes us to his home, urging us to sit in the seats he has placed outside his hut, under a mango tree. With big green leaves, the tree provides shade on this hot day and we sit across from him, feeling his excitement and joy. I take out my little orange notebook, asking the same questions I ask of every family we meet to start the conversation going – how many children are you raising? How many of them are adopted? Do you have elderly people living with you? What gifts did you receive from AFCA?
Martin answers each question earnestly and I write, taking notes quickly because I want this part of the trip to be over, releasing me to actually converse with him and to hear him. I sense he has a lot to say and I want to listen carefully, so I understand what it is about him that compels me so.
Martin and his wife have five biological children and three adopted children, he tells us. The adopted children are nephews and a niece, as his sister died of AIDS a while ago, leaving the children orphaned. He received four sheep from AFCA, along with gardening tools, seeds, loads of training, a solar light, water filter, and follow up visits.
With the formal questions answered, I lean in and ask, “how have things changed for you?”
His grin widens even more and he jumps to his feet, urging us to follow him. He leads us to his garden where he excitedly recollects what a mess it used to be. He says he did not have a clue as to what to grow and where. He did not know how to start seedlings, keeping them protected from the harsh sun and driving rains. He did not know about mulching or composting. How, he does, and it has made all the difference. He proudly and seriously shows me the tiny plants that have taken root, as well as the huge pile of corn he and his family have harvested. He credits his stash of vegetables, peanuts, corn, and beans to excellent training received and to the constant follow up done by the staff.
The gift of four sheep has multiplied, as well, and two are currently pregnant. He says he is ready to help birth those kids if trouble were to arise, as he is trained in this, as well. He goes between the sheep to his stored corn, ready for the next planting season. I can’t help but be as excited as he is, knowing that what we are witnessing is a miracle. This man, his wife and children have a future because of a small kindness given to them. Amazing stuff.
Shyly he asks if we can possibly buy a corn grinder for the project. I ask him to expound on his request and he explain that the community could share the grinder, each paying a small fee to use it. The money would be kept for upkeep of the machine and everyone would benefit from having it at their disposal. I tell him I like his idea and that we will see what we can do. Gratefully, he pumps my hand up and down, excited with the possibility of the corn grinder, knowing it will make the lives of the community women easier, as they are the ones tasked with this job.
As I walk away from Martin, his smile stays with me.
Stories like Martin’s are only possible if AFCA has the funds to purchase supplies and build facilities for gardening and animal husbandry. Participating in Pass My Plate is an excellent way to make sure communities helped by AFCA are able to become food secure. To contribute, visit our website to sign up for Pass My Plate and help families like Martin’s.