Spring is the season of renewed life, new buds and shoots indicate that fresh life is well on its way. This spring will be special to me not just because I will enjoy the beauties of spring around my home, but I know that there are 148 families in Frias, Peru that have a brighter future. These families are in the spring of their self-reliant journey.
The culmination of our first Mape Project Frias program was a well-attended graduation ceremony in the Piura coastal region of Peru. The ceremony was a highlight of my winter and an exciting celebration of achievements for 148 participating families. I travel to Piura in February, along with our Director of Operations Lonny Ward. While there, we witnessed the graduates of our 12-month instructional program receiving recognition for their accomplishments over a very formative year. The partnerships we have established in Piura made the program possible as we received staff and materials from the Piura Regional Government, National University of Piura and Municipality of Frias.
I was overjoyed to see 148 more families well on their way to becoming self-reliant. As one family put it, “before this program we had no food storage and little to eat.” With tears in her eyes, the mother smiled and said that her family’s challenge was now deciding what to eat. “We are grateful for the help and instructions we have received.” These beautiful people own their future.
The program provided education on small-scale agricultural methods and nutritional best practices, the results of which have been far-reaching and significant. We tracked a decrease by one-third in the number of malnourished individuals in the region, the number of people with acute respiratory infections fell from 87 percent to 19 percent, acute diarrheal disease fell to seven percent from 52 percent and skin disease completely disappeared. The list continues with economic improvements: the average farmer who graduated from our program more than doubled their agricultural production, from 147.27 kg per household to 315.72 kg.
Many individuals said that we would never receive help outside of our US partners. I can honestly say that the regional and local governments of Piura love working with us. They appreciate the impact our programs can have and our ability to measure this impact. The four-way partnership allowed us to expand our program and increase the access to education and work materials. I’d like to thank the Regional Government for the eight technicians they hired to work underneath our staff, the National University which provided seeds and small animals to our program participants and the local government of Frias which provided staff housing and meals during the work day. The graduation was a celebration of achievement and signified the high importance placed on self-reliance by all in attendance.
When you see new growth occur during spring this year, remember that there are families in Peru that have a new and beautiful future as well. I hope that we will all be able to have many similar graduations in the future. I look forward to our next Piura program coming to fruition as we again join forces with local partners. Regarding that and other developments, I am happy to keep you informed!