|Sunflowers… photo captured by River Bennett from theWolfpackmrs|
Today we were welcomed with singing and dancing by 200 of our Cents for Seeds women from the village of Barr. Barr women are the pioneers of the Cents for Seeds program, they were the first village that we ran the program in, back in 2010. They have been the most innovative and entrepreneurial group of women that we’ve worked with, coming up with many of the ideas which have improved the program. They’ve really taken the program to the next level in terms of sustainability for which we are so grateful and proud.
We listened as they shared their farming challenges and triumphs this year.They had yielded a good harvest from the first planting season but devastating drought caused them to lose most of their crops in the second planting season. For the first time in five years they were unable to return their loan of seeds. We had the opportunity to encourage them and reassure them that we are not going anywhere, and that as long as they want to keep farming we would stand by them and try again next year.
As I sat there and absorbed the meeting with the women in Barr, the theme that moved me the most was COMMUNITY. The idea of doing life together, linking arms and walking together, the idea that ‘together we are strong’. When one is weak, everyone reaches out to help them be strong. We were made for community. Cents for Seeds is about community.
As part of Cents for Seeds the women have formed groups according to where they live so that they can work as a team and encourage one another in their farming and be accountable to each other in returning their loan. They also have a savings kitty within their group where one woman can get a loan for other business ventures or to purchase other crops to plant. The program is not only empowering the women to create their own livelihood for their families, it is encouraging this sense of community, to stand alongside each other and work together in order to become self sustaining… to genuinely flourish, together.
These are women who have witnessed and been victims of the most horrific atrocities during 25 years of civil war. And now that the war is over, they are simply mothers, sisters, daughters and friends doing the best with what they’ve got. And they’re flourishing, I believe, because they are working so well collectively. No matter where you live or what your story, to truly flourish we need to weed out the junk that comes with a ‘me mentality’. For community to flourish we need to be FOR each other, to genuinely celebrate with others when they do well and to be there when they are struggling.
We saw a beautiful display of community yesterday when, at the end of the meeting the women took up an offering to help Rose, one of their friends in need who is is a part of Cents for Seeds, (she’s actually a leader for one of the groups) and is suffering from cancer. They banded together and took up an offering to help her with her medical costs and also to provide some food for her. One of the women, Eunice, took the offering to Rose’s home after the meeting. Eunice told us, ‘I didn’t even know Rose before Cents for Seeds, it has helped me make new friends and has brought the community together’. Rose was blessed.
I feel honoured to be working alongside these women, and honoured to have the opportunity to encourage them to lean on one another, draw strength from each other to use their words not to tear down but to build one another up and cheer each other on. My prayer is that they would continue to flourish like a field of sunflowers in full bloom. That, like a sunflower, when one starts to wilt and lean over, there will be others so close to it that it can continue to stand until it regains the strength again to stand on it’s own. Help is only an arms length away if you were to become weak again.
Since becoming a mother I’ve realised how important this is. That with all the beauty and the chaos…and the beauty and the chaos that comes with the role of being a Mumma, we need friends cheering us on around us in order to truly flourish. We need each other, no matter where we are stationed on this earth. We were created to live in community, and Barr village is a flourishing community personified.