For each week of Lent, The Visitor will highlight CRS’ work with a story and a simple, meatless recipe from a country the agency serves. Place the money saved from preparing the simple meal into your CRS Rice Bowl to assist our brothers and sisters in need around the world. At the end of Lent, individuals can give their money to their parish or send donations directly to the St. Cloud Mission Office, 11 8th Ave., S., St. Cloud, MN 56301.
Week 4: March 26-April 1
Maria de la Luz Lugo Martínez remembers what it was like growing up in Ejido Hidalgo, Mexico. “We said we were rich because we had a lot of corn, beans and animals.” But now, with few jobs and even less rain, young people—including Maria’s children—are leaving the community in search of a better life.
To help families like Maria’s, CRS launched a greenhouse project empowering women with meaningful work and community. Women visit their community greenhouses to grow cactuses to sell—but they also go for so much more. “At the greenhouses, we laugh, we talk, we spend time together. Sometimes we leave our homes angry or sad. But then we start working with the plants, and we forget. Talking, laughing—we forget our problems for a while,” says Maria.
As the cactuses grow, so to do the economic opportunities. “We didn’t believe we were going to get that far. It’s a lot of joy, a lot of excitement to see so many plants flowering.”
The flourishing cactuses aren’t the only things that give Maria pride. Even though they live far away, she still remains close to her family. “I give thanks to God that he gave me all my children and grandchildren,” she says. “They give me strength and courage to work hard. My children call and say, ‘Don’t give up, Mom. Have faith in God.’”
Learn more about CRS’ work in Mexico.
Watch a video about the Maria at: http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-4.
Week 5: April 2-8
Dita, her husband and their seven children depend on the money they earnselling crops from their small farm in Ethiopia. But frequent droughts often mean that families like Dita’s who depend on home-grown crops go hungry. And amidst the current, historic drought, more than 10 million people are struggling with hunger.
But thanks to a CRS program that helps families prepare for crises like droughts, Dita was able to build a new house and open a small store. Instead of relying solely on what she can grow on her farm, she is able to sell items like pasta, shampoo and bananas. She earns a steady $400 a month.
“Before, I had to get eggs from my neighbors. Now I have 15 hens,” she proclaims. Saving money and being able to borrow not only allowed her to buy hens but also a metal roof for her new house, a rarity for families in this part of Ethiopia.
“Now we have no problems with food,” she says. Unlike families across Ethiopia that struggle to find enough to eat, Dita says her children eat three times a day, thanks to her newfound business knowledge.
And what’s more, all her children are attending school. “When I was a child, there were no education opportunities,” she says. Then, with a shy but proud smile, she adds, “That’s a big difference.”
Learn more about CRS’ work in Ethiopia.
Watch a video about the Dita at: http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-5.
Day-by-day reflections and activities for Lent