Staff Spotlight- Tyler Franca
This summer, I have been a part of something called “Seeds of Change.” To put it simply, it’s a gardening project. I have two gardens going right now: one at the Girls Home and one at the mission home. The one at the mission home has many different things growing so that I can see what can grow well in this country. The one at the girls home has a little variety, but all of the plants are ones that I know grow well here.
I have spent much of my time this summer working on these gardens. The gardens are very different than ones I have grown in the past. The soil isn’t the best, so it has to be an above ground garden. To make this possible, I first had to find wood, and then build the large rectangle boxes. Next I chose locations for them, and assembled the boxes. From there, I found a guy to go out in the countryside and bring us in a big truckload of good soil. Once we were done with that, we finally got to plant the seed! It wasn’t long before tiny green plants were poking up from the soil. I was so excited to show everybody, but after a couple days, the pesky chickens ate the sprouts right out of my gardens.
Next step in the process quickly became plant protection. We put in a fence. A team who was spending the week with us jumped on board and we now have a six foot fence all the way around the gardens. So far, it has been successful in keeping out both children and chickens.
While working on the gardens, I have been trying to focus on relationships. One of many things I have learned from my directors, Rick and Carie, is that ministry is relational. Throughout this whole process, I have always had help. Every team this summer has played a role in making these gardens a reality. In addition, I have a squad of boys from the Bread of Life feeding program who have helped me almost daily. Two boys who stick out to me are Ronni and Santo. Ronni is eleven, and my godson. He quickly jumps on board with every project that I’m leading. He helps me water the plants each day and he personally planted the okra. Santo is almost thirteen, and he joined in on this project the day we built the fence. He wants to do construction, and so he loved learning how to build fences. He and Ronni nailed the chicken wire onto the fence themselves. I have begun a really cool mentoring relationship with these two boys as they help me each day.
I have a future vision for this project, but it will take some time. Some people here have a great knowledge of gardening (better than me!), but others have absolutely none. The dream for the future is to be able to build one of these gardens in someone’s yard and then provide the first batch of seed for them. From there, we want that person to be able to care for the garden themselves. I am using the “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life” mindset. By teaching people to garden, they can have healthy food for free and it will be very rewarding once that first fruit from their labor is ready to eat.
Next year I want to broaden this ministry, and learn even more ways to grow things. I would also like to get our Bread of Life children more involved. Who knows, maybe one day some of our Bread of Life kids could go out into the community and teach others what they have learned while working with me.