Having made it almost to the end of a cold Michigan winter, I began thinking about the word “hibernate.” We Northerners often jokingly say we’re hibernating when we pull up the covers, snuggle close to the fire, and wait for the snows to melt and the first spring crocus flowers to bloom. As a child I had always heard about bears hibernating in the winter. Last year, while doing some research for a friend, I discovered that toads hibernate in the winter, too. Even seeds hibernate.
Webster’s Dictionary tells me that to hibernate means to “to pass winter asleep.” Did you know that plants and animals hibernate to conserve energy because they lack elements essential to their growth and development during the winter months? No food available, no water, no resources… Animals live off their body reserves with a decrease in body temperature and pulse rate.
Do people live in a state of virtual hibernation – surviving, but not really growing or developing – when they live in dire poverty? And do we in more fortunate circumstances run the risk of “hibernating” in a different way, living off our spiritual reserves, decreasing our spiritual fire, and slowing down our support for the poor in our world?
I recently visited the Asian country of Laos to observe a Foods Resource Bank (FRB) food security program in Xieng Khouang. Traveling through the country, I saw villages that had limited food sources, a limited water supply, no electricity, no plumbing, and few schools. There was little family income, barely enough to survive. These villagers obviously weren’t sleeping through a harsh winter, but they certainly lacked many items that would contribute to their growth and development. I pondered how to prevent their having to “hibernate” any longer, and how to avoid a spiritual “hibernation” in the face of their suffering.
During my stay in Laos, I was more grateful than ever that my Byron Center MI neighbors and I participate in an FRB growing project. We support Xieng Khouang communities as they work their way out of poverty, out of the kind of “hibernation” that forces them to live off their body reserves. With the funds we donate to FRB from the sale of our hay, turkeys, chickens, goats and other commodities, our Laotian partners are able to purchase seed to support several families as they work to improve their household nutrition. They plant cover crops to fatten their cows so they can sell them and increase family income. In one village, community livelihoods had improved enough for 5 families to purchase vehicles. I was amazed by the impact that our local growing project had on the growth and development of this small Laotian village. A few dollars can make a big difference.
The Foods Resource Bank website (www.foodsresourcebank.org ) says that U.S. growing projects are the heart and soul of Foods Resource Bank’s efforts to “grow lasting solutions to hunger.” Since FRB was first created in 1999, growing project proceeds have supported hundreds of thousands of families in the developing world. FRB’s growing projects can prevent a village from “hibernating.” Our focus on the needy in our world keeps us from lapsing into a spiritual “hibernation.” You can be a part of a growing project. Your gifts, your skills, your talents will make a lasting difference in many lives. Join us!
Written by By Judy Dayton - FRB Volunteer from FRB’s Byron Center MI Growing Project