Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa

Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

May 18, 2017 Featured - Kalona - Feeding the world
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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The Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale on June 2-3 is fast approaching. This event raises money for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). MCCers make a difference in people’s lives around the world and today we are checking in on Jacob Yoder, who grew up in rural Wellman and is the son of John and Holly Blosser Yoder. He graduated from Iowa Mennonite School in 2010 and Goshen College in 2014.

He shares from Burundi –

It’s easy to get discouraged about the trajectory of the world these days. Drought and famine in Africa, war and destruction in the Middle East, the global refugee crisis, the increasingly polarized political climate in the US. It’s easy to feel hopeless in a world that seems too complicated to understand, in a world that seems to spin further into chaos.

For the last year and a half I have been working in Rwanda and Burundi with Mennonite Central Committee to support local Christian organizations in the implementation of two food security projects. It has been so uplifting and energizing to take part in the work MCC is doing throughout the world.

The challenges we face as a global family DO have solutions and MCC DOES play an important role in making these become reality even in the most difficult circumstances, all in the name of Christ.

One of the big challenges families face in Burundi and Rwanda is food security. A myriad of factors contribute to this issue. Both countries are recovering after periods of traumatic violence that took the lives of thousands and left their respective economies in tatters: the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the civil war from 1993-2005 in Burundi. This, coupled with increasingly erratic and unpredictable rainfall over the past decade has taken a toll on the food security situation in the countries.

What makes matters worse is that in both countries around 90 percent of the population depends on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods and the average farm size is only one to two acres.

To address this, MCC is working with farmers to increase agricultural production. One of the primary ways this is done is by providing extension

services where agronomists teach farmers new techniques like minimum tillage, cover cropping, and crop rotation that can restore land fertility and boost production. These techniques make a difference in farmers’ lives because they are a cheap and sustainable solution to poor yields and a worsening food security situation.

In Burundi, however, the economy along with food security has deteriorated to the point that immediate food aid is necessary to address the growing hunger. So in addition to working with farmers to provide sustainable solutions to food security, MCC is distributing food to the most vulnerable and food-insecure families during seasonal hunger peaks in exchange for digging contour lines that will have the long-term benefit of reducing erosion on Burundi’s hilly terrain.

Among other responsibilities, my work is concerned with helping MCC’s partners to monitor the progress of these project activities and evaluate whether our interventions are actually making a difference in the community. In addition to a lot of office work like writing reports, new proposals, and entering data, this requires a significant amount of travel. Every day I wake up excited to be able to do this job. By truck my colleagues and I get to wind around lush hills, climb over towering mountains, and cross flooded rivers until we reach our project sites. We walk through forests of banana trees, pass dozens of thatched houses, and when we finally arrive at our destination, get to talk with farmers about their experiences and encourage them on in their good work. As difficult as it sometimes is to watch the news or look out the window and see the state our world is in, it is an incredible blessing to be able to work alongside passionate Rwandans and Burundians to address the challenges our collective world faces.

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