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Tomatoes, Squash and Hope

Tomatoes and squash growing amidst the garbage on abandoned land in Cuba. Photo: Tessa Dudley

March 30, 2015

By Simon Chambers

PWRDF sent a delegation of diocesan representatives, Youth Council members, a local farmer and PWRDF staff to Cuba in mid-March.  They blogged while they were there, and now that they’re home, we will be posting their adventures in their own words.  Today’s instalment comes from Greg Smith, Diocesan Representative from Huron.

Today we began our homeward journey by heading for Havana by bus from Cardenas, to visit one more agricultural project.

Once again the inspiration for the project has come from a small faith community – this time, a tiny Church of God (Pentecostal) on the outskirts of the city. The church began in the pastors’ house.  Now a church has been built as the second storey.

Once again we are guests of a generous hospitality. This faith community has led the way in responding to the need for access to nutritious food for local people.

First they accessed training for themselves using the resources of the Cuban Council of Churches. Next they recognized small pieces of local land that were neglected.

These they have reclaimed and made productive using methods learned to produce nutritious fruits and vegetables that grow well in the Cuban climate. This work has now been expanded to include animals as additional food sources.

After hearing about the project, we are escorted on a walk through the local neighbourhood so that we can see a mill the community uses to produce sesame oil.  PWRDF, among other organizations, has contributed through the Cuban Council of Churches to make this acquisition possible.

On the way to the mill, we stumble over broken and heaved up rocks that make a roadway; over puddles and trickles of mud coming from the small houses along the route; through a fence and down a dirt path leading through a field about twelve feet wide.  We are told that some day this field will be planted with fruit trees by the community.  Now it is a piece of stoney, abandoned ground that has been used for human refuse.

As we walk the path that leads to the house where the mill is located, there beside the path we notice a tomato plant that has broken through.  Close by there is also a squash plant sending its tendrils bearing flowers out in all directions.  What better image could there be of what we have experienced of the hope bearing fruit in faithful lives in Cuba.

When we are introduced to the woman whose responsibility it is to tend the mill out behind her home, she welcomes us with her grandson at her side. This mill has begun to change her life. She now has been able to start raising animals on her property: a pig, chickens, pigeons, and rabbits.  Her family has an opportunity to be a part of the future of their country.  Tomatoes and squash and hope!  What a wonderful image to bring this adventure back home!