TURNING DESERTS INTO GARDENS.
It’s amazing how a major undertaking can be packed into just a few words.
In fact, that environmental work is the mission of the Andando Foundation, which partners with Senegalese communities to install solar-powered irrigation systems. Once completed, these gardens are managed by local women, providing a source of income as well as nutritious food.
In 2019, a $4,000 MDRT Foundation grant, endorsed by Allan D. Ross, CLU, CFP, an 18-year MDRT member from Salem, Oregon, went toward building the Keur Ngor Market Garden.
This is just one of the many ways in which the MDRT Foundation strived to combat food insecurity in 2019.
It began with partnering with The Hunger Project (THP), which for more than 40 years has empowered people living in poverty by evaluating what resources their community needs. Thanks to promotion at the MDRT Annual Meeting in Miami, Florida, and MDRT Global Conference in Sydney, Australia, MDRT members donated $200,000 to THP, which supports a wide variety of global programming to end hunger:
- In Africa, rural villages are united into “epicenters,” allowing 5,000 to 15,000 beneficiaries to gain streamlined programming around issues like adult literacy, food security and sanitation.
- In India, women are given the resources and support to serve in government. Programming across six states allows for these women to lead more than 9 million people in their communities.
- In Bangladesh, THP is the country’s largest volunteer-based organization. Programming is guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and their efforts reach more than 5 million people.
- In Mexico and Peru, the focus is on people who are most marginalized, specifically indigenous women. That work includes improving maternal malnutrition and childhood development.
“Empowered, our community partners can, will and do come up with innovative, practical and long-lasting solutions to the issues they face,” said THP global ambassador Cathy Burke, who shared the organization’s mission to MDRT members from 57 countries at both the Annual Meeting and Global Conference. “They ignite a brilliant torch for all of us regarding what it means to be human.”
The programs are guided by the belief that self-reliance is built at the grassroots level, women should be key change agents, and local governments are needed as thought partners. Through this collaborative approach, THP reaches more than 16 million people in more than 13,000 communities.
At the meetings, MDRT members made donations that were equally divided between THP and the MDRT Foundation’s global grant programs. Those programs also focused on food insecurity, with charities endorsed by MDRT members receiving grant funding through the Worldwide or Quality of Life grant programs.
A $5,000 grant supported by Sally N. Ko, a nine-year MDRT member from Manila, Philippines, supported the training of more volunteers for Art Relief Mobile Kitchen (ARMK) and upgrading the equipment used for cooking meals throughout the Philippines. ARMK cooks hot meals in times of natural or man-made disasters. Its volunteers cook comfort meals culturally adapted to the regions they serve and have responded to 36 emergency missions around the Philippines, serving more than 280,000 meals.
Plus, the U.S.-based RSVP Enid received a $25,000 grant endorsed by Judy Gregory, LUTCF, ARPC, a 13-year MDRT member from Enid, Oklahoma. The organization’s centerpiece is its Enid Mobile Meals program, during which nutritious meals are hand-delivered to 120 homebound seniors five days per week. For these seniors, it’s not just about the meal; the frequent, personal visits brighten their day and can even save their lives.
Connecting for service projects
AT THE ANNUAL MEETING and Global Conference, more than 200 MDRT members volunteered for a service project with Seeds Programs International, which provides seeds and expertise to impoverished communities in developing countries.
Volunteers packed more than 40,000 fruit and vegetable seeds that are being distributed to 10 countries (including Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Australia, Nepal and Honduras) and provide for more than 140 tons of produce.
These seeds provide the means for agriculture and development programs in indigenous communities, resources to teach children about gardening in orphanages and schools, and what is needed to create small vegetable gardens and the ability to earn a decent livelihood.