COVID-19 has hit many vulnerable communities very hard. Due to the quarantine, people in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador had an extremely difficult time finding adequate food. The Seeds of Hope project started this spring when The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) sponsored grassroots efforts by a group of former gang members called Calle Paz de Respeto (CPR) to deliver healthy food to their neighbors in need. Several years ago the group was inspired by Prem Rawat’s peace education workshops to transform into a force for good in their community, developing a productive partnership with TPRF and a positive reputation in their Alpachaca neighborhood.
With in-kind support from local government officials, food kits with staples like fresh fruits and vegetables have now been distributed regularly to over 3,100 participants.
A second stage has been developed by working with enthusiastic residents to plant organic community gardens for long term sustainable food security. Dozens of gardens are now bearing fruit and feeding families in both rural and urban areas. Some of the larger gardens are being productively shared by 50-60 families, bringing a sense of stability, security, and togetherness.
Iliana Benavidez, one of the beneficiaries, says, “It has been a gratifying experience. What we have sown ourselves, we have harvested and seen how what we have produced with our own hands will be good for us, and it's a change in mentality that I think is needed in all the population, so that they can see the benefit of organic farming. This is a total change. It influences the economy, the environmental aspect, and the social aspect. It's a holistic thing.”
The next step underway is creating a network of community seed banks with organic seeds that propagate unlike commercial seeds that often only produce for one season. The project plans to have heirloom seed banks in 42 communities across the area by April 2021.
The Seeds for Hope project and other food security initiatives by The Prem Rawat Foundation rely on donors like you. During the month of December, the Prem Rawat Foundation is seeking to raise $150,000 to support initiatives like this one in Ecuador. To contribute and watch a new video about this project visit The Prem Rawat Foundation website.