Ruben’s Tree: In Armenia, a hopeful, caring gesture symbolizes FRB’s mission

Ruben’s Tree: In Armenia, a hopeful, caring gesture symbolizes FRB’s mission

How many of us even notice roadside vegetation, let alone stop and think how it got there? A lone maple tree on the road between Yerevan and Shirak Province in Armenia has a heartwarming history. How it survived in the harsh, dry climate has a parallel with the slow but steady work of ag development, and the nurturing inherent in all of Foods Resource Bank’s food security programming overseas.

A number of years ago, thousands of trees were planted along the roads in Armenia with the goal of revitalizing neglected and isolated communities. Without further attention, however, most of the trees died for lack of water. But Ruben, a grandfather of four and driver for a non-profit organization named United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), personally saved one of those trees.

Back in 2007 or 2008, he noticed a seedling maple along his route. He decided to stop and tip his water bottle over it. Gratified (and impressed) that it was still alive on his next trip, he made a habit of watering it every time he passed by. Now, after nearly a decade under his care, the tree is taller than he is!

Says Ruben, “People should think about the world surrounding them. We expect others to do things for us. It is time to think what my role is. Am I caring for my neighbor?”

For Ruben, tending this maple tree symbolizes that kind of care. He keeps tools in his trunk and eagerly watches for opportunities to water  and prune “his” tree, so beautiful in the otherwise austere and rocky terrain.

The UMCOR staff and visitors he transports say it’s inspiring to watch him tend the maple with such tenderness and love. They know that, without his devotion, there would be no tree there at all. 

As Anahit Gasparyan, program coordinator for UMCOR in Armenia, observes, “One small change in the world by each of us, one positive contribution, may create a more comfortable world for us all.”

This is the spirit behind Foods Resource Bank.

By Laurie Kaniarz, FRB Staff

03/24/2016 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment