Dear ADRA Family,
First, they came for the toilet paper. Now, they come for the garden seeds and baby chickens. For those of you purchasing and planning with moderation during this global health crisis, the panic buying around you may seem a little absurd, perhaps even frightening. Nobody wants to own the only house on the block without a gaggle of chicks and a few tidy rows of produce, but it may also seem excessive to turn a backyard into a micro-farm.
You may be thinking: Is it really necessary?
In developed countries like the United States, the answer is most likely no. But in some parts of the world, the answer is a resounding yes.
In El Salvador, for example, micro-farming can mean the difference between life and death. In a country with more gang-related violence than almost anywhere else in the world, farming provides young adults with a better future.
“It’s very common to join a gang if there are no other opportunities,” said Juan Pablo, the director of ADRA in El Salvador. “[Farming] provides a reason to avoid the gang life and develop an agricultural life.”
To encourage this, ADRA has developed microtunnels, or greenhouses, throughout rural communities in poor areas of El Salvador, specifically targeting those most vulnerable to the influence and violence of gang life: young adults.
“This is a country with very little development,” said 26-year-old Marlon. “With these tunnels we are our own bosses and making more money. We can see there is a lot of opportunity in the future.”
Nearly all of those involved agree. In fact, 90% of project beneficiaries choose to continue farming after their first full year.
“This whole project is an attempt to motivate the young generation to be farmers, but with a successful business model,” Juan Pablo said, further reiterating how gang life seems to be the only viable option for many young adults in El Salvador. “The micro tunnels project is a way to provide another option. It is a fountain of employment, income, and entrepreneurship. [It] is a way to continue their dreams.”
You may still have the urge to go to the nearest farm store and clear out the shelves, but it’s probably not necessary. The supply chains remain intact and, or many of us, the nearest grocery store is less than ten miles away.
But whether you do or don’t build a coop and plow your yard this week, take a moment to say a prayer of praise to the One who knows our individual future. God has a plan for the young adults in El Salvador, and he has a plan for you, too.
May God bless you all.