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Poverty Alleviation Projects

November 30, 2008

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your November 2008 report for The $10 Club. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving holiday, and now, one more thing to be thankful for…

Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Half of Guatemalan children under five are chronically malnourished and a quarter are underweight for their age. Parasitic diseases, diarrhea, and pneumonia are prevalent and threaten child survival.

Plan De La Arada is a rural mountain village in drought and famine stricken eastern Guatemala. The 150 families there survive on subsistence farming, producing little surplus for potential income. Children in the village lack access to quality medical care and even die of starvation. Food supplies from the fall harvest typically run out by early spring leaving the families with no food, so help is needed to bridge the gap between the consumption of the last of the fall harvest and the new bounty to come.

Outreach for World Hope, with whom we previously undertook a successful mission to provide anti-parasitic medications to thousands of patients (February 2007), is now launching an exciting pilot project in this Guatemalan community to increase agricultural production and fight malnourishment and starvation.

This month, 360 of us joined together to donate $3,600 to provide 50 families with the materials for “Bucket Kits”, also known as drip irrigation. The basic equipment consists of two poles and a crossbar which holds a 5 gallon bucket one meter off the ground. The bucket, which must be filled once each day, drips water into the ground by way of a hose connected to a 100 foot buried irrigation tape with small holes along it, allowing water to seep into the ground.

One “Bucket Kit” is able to provide enough moisture to grow a vegetable garden capable of feeding a family of four as long as water is available with which to fill the buckets (which I’m told will not be a problem). Our funds will provide the “Bucket Kit” drip irrigation hardware, hoses, irrigation tape, shovels, fencing materials, seeds, and fertilizer. We will be able to provide two buckets per family. High calorie, vitamin rich vegetables such as squash and potatoes, and high protein black beans will be grown by this method. Thank you.

According to Kim Tews, Director of Outreach for World Hope, “This will be an extremely important breakthrough in eastern Guatemala if successful…. The drip irrigation could mean the difference between life and death for many children as the drought conditions continue.”

Guatemalan farmers struggle with both drought and flooding at different times.

Long term drought and famine have plagued the region causing the highest rate of child malnutrition in Central America. Conditions in 2008 have been increasingly dismal due to out of control inflation caused by rising gasoline prices. The cost of fertilizer in the region has risen by 150% making it cost prohibitive for most farmers. Due to poor soil and steep, rocky conditions, crops do not grow without fertilizer. So many farmers are planting only the small portion of their land for which they can afford fertilizer. This reduction in the supply of food by local farmers has driven up food prices for those who do not own land on which to grow food for their families. Starvation is resulting and malnutrition-related deaths in children are on the rise.

Although drought conditions exist from November through June in eastern Guatemala, there is a rainy season. This season is usually an appreciated blessing as some farmers are able to produce a harvest in excess of what their families consume. This enables them to make food available for purchase and also offers temporary employment for day laborers. But the 2008 rainy season has proven to be disastrous. Excessive torrential rains have caused severe flooding and landslides that have buried entire villages. According to Famine Early Warning System Network, rainfall in July of 2008 was 377% above the historic average for the month. This has caused the loss of staple and cash crops, damaged infrastructure, and caused the deaths of at least 17 people.

Thanks to your support this month, 50 Guatemalan families with have a better chance to produce stable, nourishing crops and the chances that their children will be debilitated by malnutrition or starve to death will be drastically reduced.

I hope you feel thankful for the opportunity you’ve been given to spare Guatemalan children from starvation. And I can guarantee that they will be thankful for your modest sacrifice this month, something they’ll surely consider as they are constructing their “Bucket Kits” and planting a new crop in 2009. No child should ever go hungry. Thank you for doing your part to prevent such unnecessary misery.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,


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