Humanitarian Work on the Reservations
Hello Robin's Nest readers!
The last week and the next week Dana and I are on our assignment with the Welfare Department of our church. If you are a new reader, we served a Humanitarian mission for our church for 2 years in Ethiopia and returned back home in December. On our arrival home we were asked to volunteer as short term specialists for the food initiative programs. We are currently assigned to the reservation work in Arizona and New Mexico. We oversee the projects and write reports to the welfare department so they know how the projects are going, teach the "on the ground" people working the projects, and write up new projects and submit them to headquarters in Salt Lake City.
I thought it would be fun to show you the things we see on these trips. Our march trip was to meet the on the ground people working the projects and set up new contacts. We meet with local people and missionaries working on the reservations. Dana went on a second trip in May with people from headquarters to the projects. This week we are back touring the gardens that have been planted and seeing thier progress and writing reports on each of the projects here. The funds for the projects are donated by members of our church. We were met by a writer from LDS Philanthopies for 2 days to write an article for thier website, as they help to raise funds for these projects as well.
Literally the reservation in on desert. You can see by the soil and the ground surrounding this garden that the only way this garden would grow is with this drip system. This and the fencing is provided by the funding of the project. The goal of the project is to teach self-reliance to the people on the reservation who are willing to work in a garden.
It is amazing to me that when you go to these gardens and there is no running water at the home of the particpant. They drive to town, fill up a big tank and bring it back for water in thier home and for thier gardens. I think maybe I am back in Africa! I never imagined that in the United States people did not have running water at EVERY home. The people on the Navajo reservation have to wait for the Navajo Tribe to bring a water system to thier homes, I am assuming the other reservations are much the same.
But with water and willing hands these gardens flourish, the desert looks like a rose. Each garden also has a windscreen around it, as the wind is so strong on a regular basis it would completely ruin the plants. The fencing is also to protect the garden from the animals that roam the reservation,ie; dogs, cows, horses.
This was a fun photo from one of the homes there, it is an outside oven made of the clay dirt. You see these by many of the homes there. And by the way not all the homes are dirt, there are nice homes, trailers, and very used homes on the reservations.
These people work very hard preparing the soil with manure they have collected, sawdust, and fertilizer. They then install the drip system after they have hilled up the rows, and then plant thier seeds. You can see here some members of Percey's family. It is also amazing to know that most of the single families growing the gardens are on average 8-9 people living in a dwelling and eating out of a single garden. Then they are so willing to share with each other, one daughter told us they were supplying food for 11 other families. WOW! To the side here is Annie, she won the all round best ribbon (the big one in her hand) and all the ribbons to the side for the produce that she entered in the local county fair last year. She did her first garden last year on this program. The people are so willing to learn, and they are so excited to show us thier gardens and how successful they are with this program. It is contagious as we drive from town to town in Arizona and New Mexico visiting thier gardens and taking thier photos! They love the closeness they are having with the earth.
We also get to see some fun things along the way. This is Window Rock in Arizona. It sits on a park area on the Navajo Reservation where there is a monument in memory of the windtalkers from WWll. This is such a beautiful park sitting right next to the headquarters of the Navajo Nation.
Here I am waiting for the media person from LDS Philanthropies filming and interviewing people for his article on this program.
On our way to one of the gardens we see these beautiful rock formations. I can run out of storage space on my camera taking photos. It is so fun to see all of these fun places on the reservations. They are everywhere! We work with the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Pima reservations. This week has been so fun, the work is coming along great, and all the people involved are doing such a great job.
Well for now this is all. It is fun to share with you the things we are doing in our lives. Not only do we have The Robin's Nest that we share with Rachel, but we continue to volunteer as missionaries helping people in our Nation and other areas of the world.
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Have a great week!