Positive Steps in the Fight Against Hunger
Taking the lead from Pope Francis’ recently published Laudato Si, an eco-encyclical imploring Catholics around the world to embrace and care for our Earth, the Salesian Youth Center at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Cebu, Philippines created the #LetsPlantPositivity initiative. The initiative challenges youth to create at-home gardens to alleviate food scarcity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many families throughout the Philippines have lost income due to unemployment and can no longer afford to purchase the food they need to adequately feed their families. Chronic hunger has become the norm for far too many families, who often wonder where their next meal will come from.
When the country’s lockdown first began, Father Rex Cabrillo, director of the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Mati, had the school’s soil prepared for cultivation. He and his fellow missionaries planted vegetables such as eggplant, okra, lettuce and sweet potatoes. The gardens now provide affordable and organic food to families.
“Providing an opportunity to cultivate the land during this time is important for ensuring that local populations have a source of food and are learning the agricultural techniques needed to help make their farms more productive,” explains Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions.
Salesian missionaries throughout the Philippines have worked to implement new agricultural projects. Early in the pandemic, they realized that the easiest and most effective way to combat food scarcity was to teach individuals, families and communities the importance of cultivation and proper farming techniques. They made it their goal to make farming more accessible not only to rural residents but also for city-dwellers.
With the #LetsPlantPositivity initiative, Father Abundio Bacatan—youth director of the Parochial Youth Coordination Council in Cebu—challenged students from the Salesian Youth Center to plant their own gardens, and grow fruits and vegetables at their own homes. His intent was to teach participants about the stages of cultivation—something they may never have been exposed to or learned about in their urban environment—while also providing healthy and nutritious food for their families who may be struggling financially due to the pandemic.
Fr. Abundio hopes these students will continue to grow and develop their gardens. “This is just the beginning of everyone’s journey in planting positivity not just in our surroundings, but also in each and everyone’s lives,” he says.
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Learn more about our work in the Philippines.