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Truro-area farmers grow hope

Esther Beza, a farmer in Malawi, is the smiling woman on the Grow Hope signs. She’s one of the people who’ve been helped through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Esther Beza, a farmer in Malawi, is the smiling woman on the Grow Hope signs. She’s one of the people who’ve been helped through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. - Contributed
TRURO, N.S. —

Greg Jones was surprised when he picked up the proofs for the Grow Hope poster, for the smiling face in the picture was one he recognized.

Greg and his wife Carol, who live in North River, met Esther Beza in 2018, when they were volunteering in Malawi with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

“Malawi is called the warm heart of Africa, due to its people,” said Greg. “Like most people we met, Esther gave an impression of warmth and generosity, despite having very little.

“She had about five acres and did everything by hand. They’re very hard working, industrious people working with rudimentary tools.”

Esther’s husband left the country to find work, so she handles the farming while caring for her four children, three of her brother’s children and her elderly parents. 

She was struggling to feed her family when she heard about an agricultural training project supported by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

“I was a poor woman so I decided to participate in the project so I could depend on myself to help my family and friends,” she said. 

She’s now able to not only produce enough food for her family, but to sell the extra help pay her children’s school fees.

“There used to be an entire hospital wing dedicated to malnutrition,” said Greg. “The Foodgrains Bank did emergency food aid, followed with agricultural development training, and a few years later the wing had closed. It was a real wakeup call that international development does work.”

Six farmers were trained the first year and they shared what they learned with others. There are now about 15,000 trained farmers.

Nova Scotians have helped people like Esther through the Grow Hope program by donating use of land and contributing labour to harvest the crop grown on it. When the crop is sold, the money goes to the Canadian Food Grains Bank to support projects.

With Grow Hope Truro, every $100 donated translates into more than $900 through the increase in the value of the crop and a matching program with the federal government.

There are 40 acres planted in the Truro area for Grow Hope and the goal is to raise $12,000. This would result in about $112,000 to help those in developing areas.

 To learn more, email growhopetruro@eastlink.ca. Donations can be made online at https://www.cbmin.org/Truro/. Tax receipts will be issued for all donations of more than $20.

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