Vaviroa’s story

Photo by Heidi Yanulis for Catholic Relief Services

Photo by Heidi Yanulis for Catholic Relief Services

Vaviroa is a smart, hardworking woman — with four children to feed. Though she had been raising her children alone for many years, their family was doing very well. They ate crops grown from Vaviroa’s family farm, and they even made money selling extra vegetables in nearby villages.

Then, in 2013, Cyclone Haruna hit, destroying most of northern Tulear, the part of Madagascar where Vaviroa and her children lived. Her fields flooded, and her crops died. With no way to feed her family, Vaviroa needed some help. She was already a great farmer — she just needed extra support to get back on her feet. And that extra support came in the form of seeds.

CRS’ seed fair program gives vouchers to farmers and their families so they can buy seeds, farm tools and livestock at local seed fairs. The goods they buy help them replant and rebuild their communities. The fairs also give farmers a chance to sell their crops in a safe place to people who need them. And these seed fairs help the environment by giving farmers the tools they need to care for God’s creation.

With the seeds she received at a CRS seed fair, Vaviroa has been able to replant her fields. Once again, her children are receiving the nutrients they need to grow and are able to attend school. Vaviroa is proud of all she’s accomplished-and looking forward to the next planting season.

Read more stories about how Lenten alms become lifesaving aid at crsricebowl.org.

Eric ClaytonEric Clayton is CRS Rice Bowl Program Officer at Catholic Relief Services (CRS).


This Lent, USCCB is partnering with CRS to bring you Stories of Hope from CRS Rice Bowl, the Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. Through CRS Rice Bowl, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need worldwide, and devote our Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.

Mayra’s story: Hungering to Learn in Honduras

Mayra Martinez, 11, and her grandmother Lucía Mancía, 62, showing her math and language diplomas from the Peer to Peer Tutoring program given by her tutor, Elías Fabricio. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services

Mayra Martinez, 11, and her grandmother Lucía Mancía, 62, showing her math and language diplomas from the Peer to Peer Tutoring program given by her tutor, Elías Fabricio. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services

Two years ago, Mayra was not a star student. She was very shy in the classroom and struggled with simple math and reading lessons. She often missed homework assignments and, some days, did not go to school.

Her teacher noticed and enrolled Mayra in the school’s tutoring program. In the months that followed, Mayra and Fabricio, her tutor and classmate, spent many afternoons practicing reading and writing stories together. They made up games to practice math. And when they were done, they jumped rope and played in their neighborhood. In the process, the two became good friends.

“Fabricio never looked down on me because I had trouble learning,” says Mayra. “He always treated me well.”

The extra attention was what Mayra really needed. She lives with her grandmother, Lucia, who works hard to take care of Mayra. She picks coffee on a nearby farm and does laundry to earn money to put food on the table. But this means she doesn’t always have time to help Mayra with her school work. In fact, like many people her age, Lucia cannot read.

That’s why Fabricio’s help was so important. Today, Mayra is proud of her reading and math skills. She does her homework and goes to class on time. She is more confident and has a new group of friends.

Mayra wants to be a teacher one day. But first, she will become a tutor so she can help her classmates-just as Fabricio helped her.

Read more stories about how Lenten alms become lifesaving aid at crsricebowl.org.

Eric ClaytonEric Clayton is CRS Rice Bowl Program Officer at Catholic Relief Services (CRS).


This Lent, USCCB is partnering with CRS to bring you Stories of Hope from CRS Rice Bowl, the Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. Through CRS Rice Bowl, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need worldwide, and devote our Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.

Odette’s story: Hungering for a Healthy Start in Rwanda

Jeanne Uwimbabazi smiles at her daughter Elissa Izibyose while feeding her porridge during a health and nutrition screening near Buruba Village, Muhanga District, Rwanda. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Catholic Relief Services

Jeanne Uwimbabazi smiles at her daughter Elissa Izibyose while feeding her porridge during a health and nutrition screening near Buruba Village, Muhanga District, Rwanda. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Catholic Relief Services

Odette’s daughter Olga could have easily become one of the many children in Rwanda who don’t receive the nutrients they need to develop and grow.

But Odette started working with Catholic Relief Services even before she gave birth to ensure her child would get the care she needed during the crucial first 1,000 days of life. The nutrition a child receives from the time he or she is in the womb until his or her second birthday can mean the difference between a promising future and one of poor health and limited opportunities.

Catholic Relief Services is working with communities in Rwanda to end child malnutrition by supporting health and nutrition programs, and teaching families to grow crops that add nutritious variety to their meals.

Because poverty is a major cause of malnutrition, CRS helps families find opportunities to earn an income. With a loan from her microfinance group, Odette started a business selling agricultural fertilizer so she could support her family.

Odette attends weekly classes that are helping her grow healthy crops on her farm. She’s also taking courses on how to prepare nutritious meals from those crops. And she takes Olga to regular well-baby visits to measure her weight and growth, and ensure she is healthy.

This year, Olga will reach a milestone: Her second birthday. Because Odette has been feeding her a variety of nutritious foods-many of which were grown in the family garden-Olga is growing up strong and healthy.

Read more stories about how Lenten alms become lifesaving aid at crsricebowl.org.

Eric ClaytonEric Clayton is CRS Rice Bowl Program Officer at Catholic Relief Services (CRS).


This Lent, USCCB is partnering with CRS to bring you Stories of Hope from CRS Rice Bowl, the Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. Through CRS Rice Bowl, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need worldwide, and devote our Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.

Hongkham’s story: Hungering to Give Back in Laos

Hongkham Phengsaphone, age 36, holds a bowl of lentils at the Nahangnoy Primary School, where CRS’ LEAPS program provides students with a free school lunch. Photo by Jim Stipe/Catholic Relief Services

Hongkham Phengsaphone, age 36, holds a bowl of lentils at the Nahangnoy Primary School, where CRS’ LEAPS program provides students with a free school lunch. Photo by Jim Stipe/Catholic Relief Services

Hongkham lives close to where she grew up in Nongdeune, Laos, with her husband and their five boys. Her husband is a farmer, and her family relied on his crops for food and income. When Hongkham’s husband got sick, the family had to sell a lot of what they owned-including their land-to pay for medicine. Soon, the family faced real hunger.

Then Hongkham found an opportunity to use her love of cooking to help her family and community through CRS’ school literacy and hunger program. She volunteers as a cook at her children’s school, which provides free school lunches for students, literacy training for teachers and principals, and nutrition training. Hongkham uses that training in the school kitchen-and when she’s cooking for her family at home.

She also receives a monthly ration of food to take home, which helps her family grow and thrive. But the best part about CRS’ program is that students are learning to read and write. Hongkham says that before the program started, students would go home and often wouldn’t return for afternoon classes, but now, students return to school after morning classes to receive their free and nutritious lunch. She even sees the change in her own children-in their studies and their health.

Good nutrition has made a real difference in the lives of the people of Laos.

Read more stories about how Lenten alms become lifesaving aid at crsricebowl.org.

Eric ClaytonEric Clayton is CRS Rice Bowl Program Officer at Catholic Relief Services (CRS).


 

This Lent, USCCB is partnering with CRS to bring you Stories of Hope from CRS Rice Bowl, the Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. Through CRS Rice Bowl, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need worldwide, and devote our Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.

Maria’s story: Hungering for Opportunity in Colombia

Portrait of Mar’a Yelud Leyt—n Ch‡vez, 18, in charge of the Borderlands project coffee quality lab at Pasto, Nari–o in Colombia. She is member of a displaced family. Her father fled Nari–o for La Florida escaping death threats from paramilitaries. She is studying an online coffee management technical career and helping her family with her new job. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services

Portrait of Maria Yelud Leyton Chavez, 18, in charge of the Borderlands project coffee quality lab at Pasto, Nario in Colombia.  Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for Catholic Relief Services

Fighting between armed forces made life in Cumbitara, Colombia, dangerous for Maria and her family-so dangerous that 8 years ago they were forced to relocate. They left their home one morning with nothing but a suitcase of clothes.

It wasn’t easy making a new life in Nariño, a region of Colombia known for its coffee. People made fun of Maria and her family because they were outsiders. It was also hard to find work, and Maria’s father left home for months at a time to do dangerous work in a mine. Continue reading