What I've learned from my work with the women of El Remate, Guatemala is something that I already knew. I knew it one day when I sat holding my healthy baby, asleep in my arms, while looking at a photograph of another mother, this one in Africa, who was holding her starving infant in her arms, she herself starving and unable to give her baby the life-sustaining milk that he needed.What I've learned from the women of El Remate, from taking care of my handicapped sister, from all the work that God has given me is that there is no difference between us.
What we all want is the opportunity to love and to be loved.When our basic needs for food, clothingand shelter are met, there is only one more thing we need and that is Love.We do not need cell phones or platinum TVs.We do not need 3000 square foot houses or SUVs.We do not need the great majority of things that clutter up our lives.But we do need love.When everything else is stripped away, the need to love and be loved is at the core of every one of us.
Babies who do not get loving contact with another person, no matter how well their physical needs are met, die.They call it "failure to thrive."Old people who no longer have loving family or friends around them, lose hope and slowly lose their minds.We all need love in our lives, not just to be loved but to give love.Without the opportunity to give and receive love, we are not complete.
There are souls in this world who have learned to give their love directly to God and are totally satisfied to receive only His love in return.They may live in a cave in the Himalayas or in an ashram in New York City.But these souls are few and far between.The great, great majority of us need to give and receive love to and from each other.That is our way of tapping into the Source of all love.
So we love our parents, we love our children, we love our brothers and sisters, our friends, our
teachers.But too often, that's as far as it goes.We have this mistaken idea that our love is a limited commodity.Maybe we're afraid that if we give some of it to those "other" people, there won't be enough for our "own" people.
What I've learned from the women of El Remate is that this isn't so.I've come to know them.I've learned that they love their children and grandchildren just as much as I love mine.I've learned that they are willing to work hard, very hard, to make a better life for themselves and their families.I've also learned that they are willing to love this Gringo who tries so awkwardly to speak their language but makes such a mess of it.
In El Remate we share.We share with them - what we know about gardening and nutrition and operating a small business.They share with us - their homes, their food, their hopes and dreams and fears and frustrations.And they allow us to hold their babies and hug their children, something I'm very grateful for.And that's the second part of what I've learned from the women of El Remate, that by sharing what we have, no matter whether it's knowledge, material goods, our time, the love that's in all of our hearts – just waiting to find a recipient,by sharing what we have we make a better world.And we don't have to be afraid, there is plenty; there is an abundance.If we start taking care of what the Heavenly Father and Earthly Mother have given us, we will never run out.
I've read a number of formulas for creating a better world, some complicated and some not so complicated.Mine is simple.We need to understand that WE ARE ALL THE SAME and we need to share.
How can we turn scenes like this.Into this? only through love and sharing.
Happy Valentines Day!
Peace and love,
Rose (Mirabai) Lord 14/02/07
Guatemala: Growing Food and Friendship
In January of 2005, this author, Rose Lord, and my associate, Martha Luz Atkinson, set out for the village of El Remate, Guatemala to introduce aprogram, incorporating nutrition education, intensive gardening and micro-enterprise.The goal of the program, called the Women’s Self Reliance Program, is to offer impoverished women tools that can help them develop self-reliance and lift themselves out of their poverty.We had no idea of what to expect; all that we brought with us were our aspirations for the program and some packets of vegetable seeds.Little did we know that the seeds we would plant would grow not only wholesome vegetables for their dinner tables but friendship and solidarity among the women of El Remate.
The Women’s Self-Reliance Program was conceived and developed in response to a question posed by a woman in India.The parent organization, Global Coalition for Peace, was promoting a program called Mother-to-Mother for Peace and Nonviolence.Mother-to-Mother is all about creating partnerships between women all over the world for the purpose of supporting each other in the decision to raise their children in the ways of nonviolence.The woman from India, who was working with a group of Muslim mothers in that country responded enthusiastically to the program but asked, “How can we ask these mothers to work at teaching their children nonviolence when they can’t even feed them?”
Our research revealed that there are tens of millions of mothers all over the world who are living with the horror of not being able to adequately feed their children and, while there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of relief programs, hunger is a powerful enemy.We decided to become an ally in the war against hunger by offering women tools that would enable them to rely on their own potential to fight the battle themselves.Intensive gardening requires a minimum of land, water and labor and can be done anywhere in the world.As the core of our program, it gives women a sustainable way of providing wholesome food to their families.
An intensive garden is, quite simply, one in which the most produce possible is grown in a given space.Instead of long rows of vegetables and herbs, intensive gardens are usually 3-4 foot square.A garden can consist of one such square or many, depending upon the needs of the gardener and her family.It has been demonstrated that this process will produce five times the amount that can be grown on the same surface using standard gardening methods.
Intensive gardening is done on raised beds.The soil is double-dug, meaning that the top twelve inches of soil is removed from the bed; a spade or spading fork is inserted into the next 10-12” of soil at 6-8” intervals and the fork is wiggled around to break up the compacted soil. The top soil is then mixed with generous amounts of compost and loosely piled back into the bed.The resulting soil mixture should be fluffy and raised above ground level.The raised bed may be free-standing or have a solid frame of wood, stone, brick, etc. to hold it in place.In hot, dry areas where the soil tends to dry out very quickly, a lowered bed may be preferable, simply because raised beds tend to get hotter and dry out quicker.With lowered beds more soil is removed from the garden site but the rest of the process is the same, resulting in a bed that is slightly below ground level.
Probably the most important component of intensive gardening is the production of the compost.Compost has a dual purpose.It improves the structure of the soil, in other words, makes it easier to work with, and it provides nutrients for plant growth.Compost is produced from kitchen scraps, dead leaves and weeds, grass clippings, etc. As plants and organic materials contain different ingredients because they are produced in varied conditions and places, the more variety in the compost pile the richer and more nutritious it will be.Compost is the best soil/fertilizer possible for the garden.It’s organic, cost-free, earth-friendly and made from natural materials available all around the world.
The garden is divided into squares, each square devoted to a different plant.Plants are spaced equal distance from each other on all sides.Mel Bartholomew, originator of Square Foot Gardening and Author of the book by the same name, suggests that, rather than over-planting and then thinning the sprouts, only as many seeds should be planted as the gardener expects to harvest.This way there is no wasting of seed.
Succession planting (re-planting each square with a different type of seed as soon as one crop is harvested) is employed to maintain a continuous harvest throughout the growing season. To make the most use of space, vertical gardening (using trellises, cages, or poles for vining or sprawling plants) andinter-planting (growing two or more types of vegetables in the same area at the same time) are commonly used techniques.
Intensive gardening is a low-tech way of growing produce.Hand tools and a watering can are about all the necessary equipment.John Jeavons, who has been developing and teaching bio-intensive gardening for the past thirty years points out that, “Rather than shirking human labor, trying to reduce the amount of it used or to increase its productivity in unsustainable ways, we need to exalt in its proper use and the maintenance of the very muscles involved in an effective human life.”Yet, intensive gardening is not really work-intensive.There is very little weeding due to the fact that the entire area is planted, as opposed to rows of un-planted, weed-generating space between the rows of vegetables.In addition, the spacing of the plants creates a nearly perfect leaf canopy which decreases both water loss and weed growth.
Many believe that this type of gardening could go a long way towards solving the world’s hunger problems.Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland said of John Jeavons’work, "There are probably a billion people in the world who are malnourished. The Jeavons approach could enable that segment of the population to feed itself adequately for the first time ever. That would be a remarkable development in this world, and would do more to solve the problems of poverty, misery and hunger than anything else we've done."
Intensive gardening uses a fraction of the water used by conventional growing techniques.It builds soil rather than depleting it.It does not consume non-renewable energy and it produces far more food in the space used, thereby allowing much more of our planet to exist in it’s naturally beautiful state.
Some unique features of the SattwicPeaceGarden are:
We do not use any artificially produced substances to enhance the soil; compost, crop rotation and inter-planting are employed to bring the soil to a healthy state and keep it that way.
We use all-natural preparations to enhance the development of the compost.*
We use seed that has been grown biodynamically.
Global Coalition for Peace was invited to bring the Women’s Self Reliance Program to El Remate, located in the northern Peten region of Guatemala, by Anne Lossing, the director of Project Ix caanan whose main goal is to preserve the Guatemala rain forest, its ecology, its resources and its culture.El Remate is a village of approximately 300 families and is known for its woodcrafts.It sits next to the main road passing through the Peten which goes to the most popular tourist sites in the region.Most of the families are involved in wood carving, making everything from keychains to six foot statues of Mayan gods.The crafts are sold at small local shops, in regional hotels and at the ancient restored Mayan sites like Tikal and Yaxha.However, the market is flooded with woodcarvings and many of the smallest producers, like these women, who have nothing but the most rudimentary tools to work with, find it hard to maintain a market for their wares.
Anne has been living and working in the village for twelve years and, with her intimate knowledge of the challenges the women face, felt that WSRP was just what they needed.
And the women of El Remate have embraced the project with their characteristic energy and enthusiasm.Now, more than a year later, we see gardens that are flourishing and helping to feed their families.Some of the women are even finding the gardens to be a small source of income.Goats have been introduced into the project, providing milk and dairy products to further enhance their nutritional status.The goats were part of an agreement in which the women of El Remate taught the gardening process to women of two neighboring villages in exchange for two pregnant goats. The goats have since given birth and, in the tradition of Heifer International, the gift of livestock will continue to be passed from one family to another.
In addition, the women are presently developing a piece of property where, with the assistance of the Trees for Life organization, they are now growing fruit trees, sugar cane and pineapple.The “ForestGarden” as it is called, will provide fruit for their own consumption and eventually serve as a significant source of income.
The open hearts, open minds, eagerness to learn and unceasing vitality that the women have put into the project has taken it beyond our expectations in the brief period of 1 ½ years.A number of small enterprises have developed, including a catering service, a sewing business and a small general store.With the addition of fresh vegetables to their diet and the reduction in the use of processed sugar, the problem of yeast and fungus infections that was so prevalent among the children, has subsided.
One quiet and breezy afternoon on our most recent visit, as we sat with the women and children in the galera, we posed this question:How has your diet changed since we planted the first gardens?
One after another they told us of how the access to fresh vegetables has changed the way they and their families eat, with comments like:
“It’s great to be able to go out to the garden and pick the tomatoes and carrots and lettuce for dinner.”
“Now we have these beautiful vegetables to eat with our tamales.”
“Yes,” chimed in one woman, “even the mice are eating better.”
Not long after our initial trip to El Remate, the first fifteen women who were involved in the program decided to form their own organization.With the gardens as visible evidence of its benefits, it wasn’t long before other women in the village decided that they wanted to be included in this project.Many changes have taken place in the lives of these women, including the building of a permanent meeting place of their own.But the most unexpected outcome is best expressed in the words of Juana Melendez, the president of what has become El Grupo Fememino de El Remate.
“Before we knew each other as neighbors.We would say “hi” when we passed each other on the road.But now we are friends.We work together and help each other when there is a need.”
December 9, 2006
------------------------------------------- Rose Lord
This came to me the other day as I was about to say my prayers and I thought it would be nice to share it with all of you.
AT GOD'S CAFE
Your Order, Please?
Just Love, thank you.
Everything else is too tiring.
Jealousy, fear, resentment - they sap me of my energy.
Love makes me bounce.
Anger, greed, hatred - they burn me and then leave me cold.
Love is like a sunbath.
Doubt, despair, remorse - they cover my days in a mantle of darkness.
I am writing today to share with you a vision of peace and prosperity for the women and children of the world.In this vision there are no children suffering from constant hunger.There are no mothers experiencing the agony of watching their children starve.Healthy women and children all over the world have hope for a bright future, one in which they determine their own fate.
In this vision there are fresh and wholesome vegetables on every dinner table.There are fruit trees ripe with luscious fruit in every village, town and city neighborhood.The women have dignified work to do, work that brings in an income and helps create a decent life for themselves and their families.In this vision of peace and prosperity there is no need for violence or war.
Unfortunately, for more than a billion women and children all over the world this is only a dim and inconceivable vision.They live in the constant state of violence caused by hunger and poverty.
Did you know that:
·Almost half the world's population, 2.8 billion people, live on less than $2 a day.
·Of these people, 1.2 billion live on less than $1 a day.
·There are approximately 850 million people worldwide suffering from protein-energy malnutrition (PEM).That means they simply don’t have enough to eat.
·About 10.9 million people a year die of hunger and about half of them are children.
·Fully one quarter of the world’s children suffer from PEM which is manifested in impaired physical and mental development and frequent and severe illness.
·and the most astounding fact of all.
·NONE OF THIS IS NECESSARY
“Imagine all the people sharing all the world.”
These are the words of John Lennon.Let’s imagine what that would look like for a moment.
There is more than enough food, land and other resources for all of the world’s people to live healthy and comfortable lives.If the world was divided up evenly there would be approximately 1.8 hectares or about 4 ½ acres of livable, productive land available for every person on this earth.Now, the highest estimates are that it takes about 1.2 acres of land to feed and house one person comfortably. So, it’s easy to see that, even though the world population is increasing and the need for population control is important, right now, “sharing all the world,” does not mean anyone has to live in crowded slums or shanty towns.
Does, “all the people sharing all the world,” mean that some would have to go hungry so that others could survive?Certainly not.Even without increasing production, the world’s agricultural system - as it is right now - produces enough food to provide 2700 calories per day for every man, woman and child on earth.No one has to go hungry.No one has to live in squalor.And no woman should have to watch her children starve
So we ask ourselves, “What can we do?”
At Global Coalition for Peace we believe we’ve found part of the answer.Our answer is called the Women’s Self Reliance Program.The Women’s Self-Reliance Program is applicable in any area of the world, to address the problem of mothers faced with a lack of resources. The program integrates education on nutrition, organic gardening and micro-enterprise with a hands-on component that sets the women up for an immediate start.
With the method of intensive gardening called “Square Foot Gardening” which has been tested all over the world, the women can provide some of the basic elements for a nutritional diet for their families, in an area merely 4ft.x 4ft. with a minimum amount of water and very little labor. The other components of the program are to insure that they are growing the right type of food for a balanced diet, and to teach them self-employment skills that they can use to help support themselves and their families.
The beautiful thing about this program is that putting it into place does not require big-time funding.All of our workers are volunteers and all of our funds come from the donations of our members, families, friends and associates.
We just celebrated our one year anniversary of implementing the project in El Remate, Guatemala and we’ve seen the difference it can make in the lives of impoverished women.Please visit our website at www.globalcoalitionforpeace.net/wsrp.It will give you our philosophy and tell the story of how the program began.If you click on the update link at the bottom, it will take you to our Quarterly Report, complete with photos of our latest trip to El Remate.
Let’s expand our vision for a moment to a worldwide community of women, caring about each other, looking after one another, and refusing to raise their own children to kill another mother’s child.How could we make that vision a reality?Maybe first by realizing that we have much to learn from one another.Christian from Muslim, Muslim from Jew, Jew from Christian, etc.In the Islamic community there is a beautiful practice called Zakat.In this practice every person either gives a portion of his/her income or receives assistance from the community.Those who can, give.Those who cannot, receive.And no one goes without.It’s that simple and that beautiful.Women of the world, we can take that model and make it work for all our sisters, all our children, and all our grandchildren.
Another part of our program creates partnerships between mothers in different parts of the world for the purpose of supporting each other in the decision to raise their children in a framework of nonviolence.We call this program Mother-to-Mother for Peace and Nonviolence.We can create a grassroots movement of women across the world, donors and recipients, working together, in partnership to build a better world.It’s simple, it’s undemanding and it can work.
I believe there is a very special force for peace available to humanity right now.That is the strong and healthy women of the world who are beyond the child-raising year.These are women with a wealth of knowledge, experience and spirit who, if they put their energies together can be a force too strong for anything to stop.We can use our longer life-spans, our increased years of health and productivity, to bring about the changes that are needed.
In spring of 2006 we will be conducting a training program in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania.Participants will learn how to install a SquareFootGarden and how to instruct indigent women in simple nutrition education and self-employment skills.
If you would like to participate as a donor or are interested in direct participation, we want to hear from you.Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how the vision looks to you.We look forward to hearing from you.
I woke up this morning to discover a gift - the announcement of your presence amongst us.
Welcome to our wondrous world.
It's a beautiful world; just wait until you can get out there and see it. Wait until you see a hillside in the spring with so many shades of green that you can't even count them. Wait until you see the sun rise over the ocean, admiring it's splendid reflection in the waves; or snow-capped mountains blending with the clouds to celebrate their oneness with the sky. Just wait until you see the face of a baby deer for the first time or hold a soft and cuddly kitten or taste ice cream (wow). Oh, and best of all (and you won't have to wait long) just wait until you can recognize the love in the eyes of your parents and your grandparents and hear the music of their laughter when they see you smile. Really, that's all you'll have to do is smile, or coo a little bit, and they'll get all giddy and start talking funny.
Oh Sophia, it is such a beautiful world, although it doesn't always seem that way. You see, Sophia, there are problems to be solved in this world. There's poverty and hunger and sickness and prejudice and, I'm sorry to say, even hatred. Sometimes it seems like no matter what we do, the problems just won't go away. People just don't seem to understand that there is plenty for all of us and all we have to do is to admit that we are all the same and let our hearts guide us from there. It's so simple but for some reason we human beings try to make everything complicated and that's where we run into trouble. It's been going on for a long time, Sophia, and we have to make it stop soon because the world is getting so weary, even our beautiful Earth is starting to say, "enough."
But, you know what, Sophia? In the simple words of one of the greatest women I've known (my mother), "there's always hope." And guess what? You are that hope. When we grandmothers look at you, and the other grandchildren, we see all the reason we need to keep on working at healing this wondrous and beautiful world of ours. We look at you and we remember that all we really have to do is to "Love one another." Jesus told us that. You'll run into him some day and you'll be amazed at the wisdom and simplicity of his message.
So thank you, Sophia, for bringing your ray of hope. There are some incredible people in this world (like your grandmother) who will do what they can to help keep it shining. Stay strong and healthy, Sophia, and don't let anything dim the Light and Love that are the very core of your being. Thank you for reminding us that THERE'S ALWAYS HOPE.
May peace be with you,
Rose Mirabai Lord (a friend and admirer of your grandmother)
September 8, 2005
Women Peacemakers of the World
A project of Global Coalition for Peace
Whether you are a new mother, a grandmother, a foster mother, or a mother in your heart, we welcome you to the Mother-to-Mother for Peace and Nonviolence Program. The idea behind this program is to raise our children in a spirit of peace and nonviolence, to teach them to regard each other with respect and compassion and to treat all of God's people with the dignity they deserve.
Where does peace begin? At Global Coalition for Peace we believe that it starts in each of our hearts and spreads from there. We believe that mothers have the unique opportunity in their day-to-day interaction with their children, to teach peace and nonviolence, to instill these attributes in their children from the moment of their birth, and even before birth, through their own peaceful attitude.
A woman who is at peace with herself will give birth to a more peaceful child. A woman who is at peace in her home, in her work as the caretaker of her family, will be much more likely to raise children who are at peace with themselves and their fellowmen and women.
But there are so many outside influences on our lives. To reach a state of personal peace and to be able to maintain it, even most of the time, takes effort. To pass that state of peacefulness on to our children despite outside influences takes even more effort. It would be so much easier if everyone around us were also striving for a peaceful and nonviolent lifestyle. That is seldom the case. It is our hope that the partnerships formed between mothers all over the world will provide the support the mothers need to sustain their goal of raising their children into peaceful, nonviolent adults. Because we believe that peace must begin in the heart of each individual person, we provide a Personal Pledge of Nonviolence. This consists of some simple guidelines for creating and maintaining peace in your own life.
If you are interested in being a part of the Mother-to-Mother for Peace and Nonviolence program, we suggest that you look at the Personal Pledge of Nonviolence and the Mother-to-Mother Agreement form to determine whether this is a commitment you feel you can make. We will be providing participants with some simple materials to introduce them to the concept of nonviolent childrearing. It is our hope that the mothers in the program will share appropriate resources from their own cultures with their partners. The more we grow in knowledge and understanding of each other, the more we will also grow in respect and compassion.
Our hearts are filled with joyful anticipation of working with you on this project for peace in our world.
With hope and love,
Rose Rose Lord Global Coalition for Peace
Personal Pledge of Nonviolence*
Making peace must start within myself.
I, __________________________, member of the Mother-to-Mother for Peace and Nonviolence Program, commit myself as best I can to become a nonviolent and peaceable person.
To Respect Self and Others To respect myself, to affirm others and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful words, physical attacks and self-destructive behavior.
To Communicate Better To share my feelings honestly, to look for safe ways to express my anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.
To Listen To listen carefully to others, especially those who disagree with me, and to consider others' feelings and needs rather than insist on having my own way
To Forgive To apologize and make amends when I have hurt another, to forgive others, and to keep from holding grudges.
To Respect Nature To treat the environment and all living things with respect and care.
To Play Creatively To select entertainment and toys for myself and my children that support my highest values and to avoid entertainment that makes violence look exciting, funny or acceptable.
To Be Courageous To challenge violence in all its forms whenever I encounter it, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the community, and to stand with others who are treated unfairly.
This is my pledge. These are my goals. I will set aside a specific time every week for the next twelve months, to check myself on what I have pledged so that I can become a more peaceable person.
Signature _______________________________________ Date ___________
* Adapted from the Pledge of Nonviolence from The Institute for Peace and Justice
Mother-To-Mother for Peace and Non-violence
The Program: Mother-to-Mother for Peace and Nonviolence As part of the Women Peacemakers of the World program Global Coalition for Peace is organizing a project to bring mothers all over the world together in a continuous relationship to support each other in raising their children within a framework of non-violence. The children will be brought up with the understanding that we are all members of the same human family and we should not injure or offend each other for any reason. Ideally, the mother-to-mother relationship will be continued by their children. Please provide the following information if you would like to form a partnership with another mother in an effort to raise a generation of children who will not wage war against one another.
Picture a world in which every human being, from the day of their birth; regardless of their race, religion, nationality or circumstances; is valued equally with every other human being.Picture a world in which no life would be considered expendable.In such a world terms like “residual casualties” and “collateral damage” would not be in our vocabulary; would be, in fact, unthinkable.
The Mother-to-Mother for Peace and Non-violence project of Global Coalition for Peace is all about women supporting each other in the decision to raise their children in the ways of non-violence.We often use the Sanskrit word, Ahimsa, synonymously with non-violence.Ahimsa actually implies more than an avoidance of violence, it encompasses an attitude of respect for all living things.When Ahimsa is understood and adopted byall peoples, war and persecution will be impossibilities.Even allowing some of the world’s people to go without basic needs while others waste precious resources will be unacceptable.So Ahimsa, one of the basic principles behind Mahatma Gandhi’s work, is what we must strive for.
The mothers of the world have the greatest opportunity to teach their children to respect all of their fellowmen and women.But how can they effectively teach this concept if the women themselves, and their children, are not respected?How can they teach their children to be loving and compassionate when they cannot even earn a fair wage, put a decent meal on the table or expect to have a roof over their heads?Unfortunately this is the case in too many areas of the world.
Children’s suffrage is a concept that could go a long way towards rectifying these injustices.Children’s suffrage means that children from birth to 18 years of age would have voting rights, most likely exercised by their parents until they are capable of voting themselves.The implementation of children’s suffrage would ensure women and their children greater representation in the political process and more influence on the passing of legislation that will influence their lives.
Having the right to vote would demonstrate to the world’s children that all human beings are equally important, even the youngest and most vulnerable.Children would be taught the importance of exercising their right to vote at a very early age and they would undoubtedly grow up to be more politically aware as adults.
And, of course, with children’s suffrage legislators would be forced to truly take the needs and rights of women and children into account, instead of just giving them lip-service, while they enact laws that favor the already rich and powerful.
One vote for every single citizen in every single country – what a truly democratic world that would be.And once the women and children are fairly represented, once they can count on having their basic needs met, then we will be able to get down to the business of creating a world where Ahimsa is understood and practiced by all.