One day in May 2013 changed everything for Santos Ico. The 43-year-old woman lives in Canguachá, Guatemala, with her husband. They work as farmers on a small plot of land in to support their family, but for many years they had struggled to survive.
God’s provision of rain on one particular day halted the couple’s plans and charted a new course for their lives.
“I was married when I was 15,” said Santos. “My father-in-law gave my husband and me a small plot of land so that we could build a house and cultivate crops, but the land was very poor. We could not grow enough food there.
“Every year, we had to migrate to Petén to find temporary jobs to earn an additional income.”
This annual migration to Petén was hard on the family. They found work as laborers on other people’s farms but sometimes suffered mistreatment at the hands of their supervisors. They also had to leave their own farmland and community behind. While Santos and her husband didn’t like this annual migration, they didn’t see any other alternative.
In May 2013, the couple began preparing to leave for Petén but had to postpone the trip because it was raining.
“That day I was visited by the health promoter who works for World Renew’s partner, ADIP,” Santos recalled. “During that visit, she explained to me that our money was in our own land, and that there was no need to travel so far to earn an income.”
The ADIP staff member convinced the couple to stay on their farm and participate in agricultural trainings supported by World Renew through the Foods Resource Bank. They began to grow crops using the new skills they learned.
“The first crops we grew were cilantro, carrots, turnips, and a local herb called Zamat,” Santos said, acknowledging that the effort was not without challenges.
“Our first harvest was not very good because of soil infertility. But after a year of incorporating organic compost into the soil, we were able to harvest enough produce for our family and for the market.”
In that second year, the couple earned $77 USD from their garden, roughly equal to what they would have earned as laborers elsewhere.
“I thank the Lord for that rainy day when the health promoter stepped into my home and convinced me that I could change my way of life,” she said.
“I can now make a living off my own resources and don’t have to migrate. But more importantly I learned that I am capable of making a difference and accomplishing my goals.”
About the Author
Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.