Margaret Penner

Maria, 10, (left) along with her mother Justina Braun and sister Anna, 11, pose for a photograph with Betty Kasdorf of MCC Canada. Braun, a widow with 11 children, received food assistance through MCC’s drought assistance projects.

Green fields of corn, oats and beans once again dot the landscape in Durango Colony, a community of Low German Mennonites in Mexico.

Still reeling from the effects of a severe drought, the promise of a good harvest is welcome news in this region, said Peter Hiebert, a member of a committee coordinating Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) drought assistance projects in the colony. 

 “We are very thankful that God sent us rain and that we have seeds that we could put into the ground,” he said.

Hiebert, a farmer, said livestock and milk production are the primary sources of income in the colony. Crops are grown mainly to feed the animals, but due to the severe drought many farmers were forced to sell some of their cattle. 

To help families maintain their livelihoods, MCC provided vouchers for the purchase of feed for animals and seed for planting new crops.

“This support has been very helpful,” said Hiebert. “The smallest farmers were hit the hardest. Some could not continue with their milk production and lost their source of income. If there is a good harvest, they will buy calves and soon after that they will be able to start milk production again.”

Food packages are also being distributed to vulnerable families in the colony. “Some people in our colony don’t have money to buy sugar, oatmeal and flour,” said Hiebert. “Between now and October, when the crops are harvested, food will be scarce.”

In addition to assisting people in the colony, MCC’s drought assistance projects provide assistance to families living in the villages and hills in the Nuevo Ideal area. Support outside the colony includes the distribution of food packets containing beans, rice, oil, corn, lentils, noodles and sugar, MCC canned meat and MCC blankets.

MCC has committed $105,000 to the drought assistance projects in Mexico. To date, about $28,000 has been received.

Donations are welcome. Cheques should be made out to Mennonite Central Committee and designated Mexico Drought. They can be mailed to your nearest MCC office. Contributions can also be made by calling your nearest MCC office in Canada at 1-888-622-6337