Turning obstacles into opportunities with Seeds of Hope
It is harvest time, and the lush fertile land of Bosnia-Herzegovina stretches into the distance to the mountains – a picture postcard of peace and serenity. Beneath the surface of this beautiful country however, the reality is often one of hate, division and missed opportunities. Much of the perfect land lies untilled and unharvested while children and families across the country go to bed hungry.
Richard, an experienced farmer, has volunteered in partnership with a local church and Mission Without Borders for the past three years, to teach families to work the land and grow their own crops. “The country is stuck in a cycle of hopelessness,” Richard says, leaning over a hand-held tractor with sweat on his brow. “When we came here we felt that hopelessness strongly. The potential for agriculture here, however, is huge.”
You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. (Psalm 128:2)
Mission Without Borders (MWB) is working with hundreds of families in Eastern Europe to try and break the poverty cycle in their lives and to help them become self-sufficient. Each spring, families are provided with boxes of seeds and taught how to plant and to begin developing their land.
“Richard always tells the women and families who work in the field about the biblical story of Ruth,” Dalibor Kojic, MWB’s Field Country Manager in Bosnia-Herzegovina, says.
“It speaks to them about this project and the situation in our country today in a simple and powerful way. Ruth lived at a time of great struggle in Israel, and families were on the move everywhere, leaving their homes in search of food and a better life. But Ruth stayed with Naomi, she was loyal to her family, she worked hard, and as a result she produced enough food for herself and others.”
The Seeds of Hope project is now in its sixth year and because of it many families are becoming self-sufficient. MWB supports over 60 struggling families in the poorest areas of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina alone, and 135 across the country as a whole.
Last year families and volunteers across the country produced over 20,000kg of potatoes, 700kg of onions, 3000kg of cabbage and 2170kg of raspberries. The food was used to feed families on MWB’s Family to Family programme, Families in Crisis, and the elderly and children at the Community Centres.
Oleh and his family (pictured above) are another testimony of how a box of seeds can bring so much hope. Oleh, his wife and five children live in Ukraine, a country and society currently in a deep struggle against war, economic collapse and unemployment.
“This family literally had nothing,” says Olexandr, Mission Without Borders coordinator.
“I can’t thank MWB enough. It was their support that gave me this start.” – Oleh
Oleh says: “I was full of hesitation and uncertainty back then. The future seemed so hazy. We were struggling, but we had some land, and my friend told me that it would be possible to provide for my family by working it. I have learnt that it is very hard, but possible.”
Today, Oleh cultivates one hectare of land growing wheat and potatoes and he also keeps cows, pigs, poultry, rabbits and has beehives. He also does some carpentry work and now has a tractor which greatly increases the crops he can produce.
“Knowing that I will grow and harvest vegetables from my own garden lightens my burdens so much. I cannot wait for harvest time. I feel like we are starting a journey, and I can’t thank MWB enough. It was their support that gave me this start.”
You can help to provide a box of seeds to a needy family. It gives them hope, purpose and a chance at sustainability.More