|   Posted: March 29, 2023

As drought and cold killed their crops again and again, families in Peru received a brilliant solution from the local Compassion center: home greenhouses.

A Better Way to Feed Their Kids

As drought and cold killed their crops again and again, families in Peru received a brilliant solution from the local Compassion center: home greenhouses.

Story and photos by Fernando Sinacay
a girl hugs her mother in front of a greenhouse

Nine-year-old Alis lives in the Peruvian Andes at over 12,000 feet above sea level. Even the chilly wind on Sunday mornings doesn’t stop her from waking up early and excitedly getting ready for one of her favorite days — her day to go to the Compassion center.

Her mother, Marisol, kisses her on the forehead as she sends her on her way. The church is only a few blocks away from their house, up the hill.

“Her classes start at 7 a.m., but I don’t have to wake her up. She really enjoys it there, and I also like that she gets to go. She’s learning a lot,” says Marisol, smiling.

“I’ve also been asking her to keep praying to God for our town and for the rain to come soon,” she adds with concern.

Faith Amid the Drought

This year has been unusually challenging for the people in Alis’ community. The rare and severe drought they’re experiencing has prompted them to lift ceaseless prayers to God. Worry and fear have been filling up their hearts.

“This kind of drought has never happened before. Usually by this time of the year, the hills are green everywhere, and we are watching for the harvest of our crops. This is also affecting the food for our sheep and cattle — they’re getting skinny — and some of the springs around are drying up,” says Marisol.

A local Compassion center started serving the beautiful children from this small community three years ago, making a positive impact on the lives of their families.

a girl hugs her mother while standing on a gravel path

Center Director Teodoro can vouch for that. “We have about 149 children registered. Families have felt the church’s support from day one through food baskets, medical checkups, blankets for the cold, school supplies, help with their studies, Bible lessons, training for our tutors and staff and even psychological assistance.

“God has blessed this town through this program, and we are deeply grateful,” he says.

A New Beginning

Despite the center’s support, the people’s gratitude and joy have been dimmed by two challenges. Adding to the unexpected drought, families in Alis’ community have also had to deal with freezing winter weather, making it nearly impossible to grow vegetables.

So the center staff decided to teach families to build greenhouses at their own homes.

They assembled all the parents at church to inform them of this initiative. Marisol was there.

“Even though we were happy about the greenhouse, we didn’t know if it would work. Up to this point, every plant seed we put on the ground would not resist the cold weather — it would die,” she says.

The center staff showed the parents a video on how to put together their greenhouses, hired a technician to check on them and monitor the process, bought the materials to build the greenhouses and gave each family seeds to plant for their first crop.

Hope Blooms

One morning, after several weeks had passed, Marisol saw her husband Isaias off to work and Alis to school and checked on her guinea pigs, rabbits and sheep. Then she went to see the progress in her new greenhouse — and found something exciting.

“When I saw the seeds blooming, I was so excited! Our plants were alive despite the weather. It worked, and we saw how the greenhouse protected them from the cold and hail,” says Marisol.

Alis couldn’t stop smiling when she saw her seeds turning into beautiful leafy vegetables right in her very own greenhouse.

The families are so pleased that they want to expand their greenhouses to grow not just more vegetables but also potatoes and broad beans.

The center’s initiative has brought relief and hope to these families. Having greenhouses not only provides food but also promotes unity among parents and children as they spend more time together now. Many fathers don’t have to commute too far or be gone for too long looking for work like they used to.

The families are excited to buy more seeds and continue adding to the plants they’re already growing, such as lettuce, onions, barley, spinach, strawberries, beets and carrots.

girl harvesting vegetables in a greenhouse

“Some neighbors have seen our greenhouse and asked if I sell the vegetables, but sometimes I just give it to them and share the blessing with them,” says Marisol, smiling.

And as the family’s plants are growing, so is their faith in God to be their provider and strength.

“The church is also helping me to know God,” says Marisol. “My husband and I go to church together sometimes. This is a great help. Everything about this program has been good to us! My daughter is learning good habits like praying and being orderly. She only learns good things there.”

For Teodoro and the other center staff, it’s an answer to prayer to see the families growing their own food.

“May God bless our children’s sponsors! Thanks to them, our children are healthy, learning and growing. We’re grateful for them and ask them to keep praying for us.”

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