Farmers’ Faces Tell A Joyful Story Despite Unpredictability
When I think of my work with Episcopal Relief & Development, I think of faces.
I think of the faces of the partner staff that I work with – and I can summon in my mind images of each of them smiling radiantly, or thinking quite seriously about a challenge, or most often – listening carefully and respectfully to another person speaking, whether that is myself, one of my colleagues or one of the farmers they are working with.
Development professionals give so much of their lives to the work they do with communities in each of their respective countries. I have a deep respect for each one of them, and we can all learn so much from the knowledge, commitment and passion that they bring to their work.
I think also of the many faces of the farmers I have had the opportunity to meet all around the world in places like India, The Philippines, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua. I can honestly say that each one that I was able to speak with taught me something new and increased my respect for the work of family farming.
These farmers use the resources they have – the soil, sun, rain, trees, seeds and knowledge – to grow food every year. Food that they will use to nourish their family, and sometimes extended families, friends in need and any visitors that happen to stop by. Sometimes they don’t harvest enough to last through the year – and they have to cut back, take odd jobs or borrow. Sometimes they harvest plenty – and are able to sell, share and store.
They are almost always up against hugely challenging odds. Weather is impossible to fully predict, roads and transport often let them down, governments change farm policies, or worse, incite conflict.
But the farmers do it. They do it because they love it, or because they have no other option…sometimes both. But they get out there season after season to support their families and their communities.
This week I am moving on from my work here at Episcopal Relief & Development, but I will continue working with farmers, and I will be taking these faces, and their stories, with me.
Sara Delaney is a Senior Program Officer at Episcopal Relief & Development.
Images: Top — Collage of international program staff Sara has worked with; Middle 1 — Collage of farmers Sara has worked with.