Photo courtesy of Janice Kroeker

Janice Kroeker participated in an MCC learning tour to Haiti in 2018, where she saw the impact of her Grow Hope gifts first hand. Here, she is pictured in front of the MCC guest house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


Playing time: 
Join Threads for a donor and coordinator's perspective on the Grow Hope project.


Listen in as our host Kyle Rudge delves into the impact of Grow Hope with donor Janice Kroeker and the project's coordinator, Immaculate Nabisere.

Threads, formerly known as Word and Deed, was established in April 2007. It is a 15-minute radio program by KR Words featuring the work of MCC in Manitoba and around the world. Threads broadcasts on CFAM AM 950, CHSM AM 1250 and CHRB AM 1220 at 8:45 am on the first Sunday of the month. 

Audio transcription:

Kyle Rudge (0:02):

It begins with a single thread, woven through other thread, and then another, and another until we have a single piece of fabric. That fabric is stretched, cut and stitched together with another just like it. [MUSIC]

This process is repeated over and over and over until we have a beautiful tapestry that all began with a single thread. Welcome to MCC Threads, where we look closely at how our stories in Manitoba weave together with the stories of MCC and its partners around the world.

It's raining again. And while I'm recording this, I know there's even more rain coming this weekend and, to be honest, I'm dreading it for me here in Winnipeg. I worry about my basement, but were I a farmer my thoughts would be entirely different. The basement comes second to the fields.

Janice Kroeker (01:11):

I am Janice Kroeker. I'm a supporter of Grow Hope.

Kyle Rudge (01:14):

We're entering the sixth year now of the Grow Hope initiative and Janice has been there supporting it since the beginning.

Immaculate Nabisere (01:21):

Hello, my name is Immaculate Nabisere and I am the MCC Manitoba's Grow Hope coordinator. I am based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Kyle Rudge (01:31):

Often we talk to the farmers about the fields, the reason why they do it, etcetera. But, this year we're talking to those who support the farmers, Janice, a donor, and Immaculate, the new Grow Hope coordinator.

Janice Kroeker (01:43):

When I first heard about Grow Hope, it's it struck a familiar cord.

Kyle Rudge (01:48):

Janice's affinity to farmers comes from her history, which is, as well, a farmer.

Janice Kroeker (01:53):

My background was on a farm. I farmed my, I grew up on a farm. I farmed with my husband for 29 years. Way back when farmers were shipping grain through Churchill with Foodgrains Bank, we were already involved. So supporting a Grow Hope project seemed like the natural thing for me to do in memory of my husband, who passed in 2017. I knew that was what he would've done. I think I really feel for the farmers every time I see crops flooded or, or crops that are too dry or I feel with them because it's just ingrained in me.

Kyle Rudge (02:32):

Immaculate, on the other hand, comes from a very different yet, somehow similar place to Janice. She hasn't been at MCC all that long, but it's been a lifetime coming.

Immaculate Nabisere (02:43):

I've been in MCC for seven months, so I'm fairly new. And one of the things which I undertook was being the coordinator for Grow Hope amongst many things. And since then it has been a learning process full of love, passion and excitement. I actually, I got to know about MCC when I used, I was in university days, but I end up in immigration sector where I worked till last year before I joined MCC. But when I was working with Manso Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations, which is the umbrella organization for all the SPOs the serving the service providers organizations in Manitoba, I actually had an opportunity to partner with MCC Manitoba. I reached out to Darryl and I'm like, hey, I just want to have this partnership going to do Forced to Flee simulations for the settlement sectors sector in Manitoba for all the organizations. And Darryl was happy to say, yes, we can do simulation facilitations with you. And actually I went on a few MCC workshops to facilitate with Darryl. <Laugh> so, which was a fun opportunity for me to learn more about MCC and ever since I was hooked, I wanted to be part of MCC. Then when an opportunity came, I jumped ship. I joined an organization, which I kinda knew that it fits all my values and it's doing things I'm, you know, I'm passionate about.

Kyle Rudge (04:50):

Immaculate was born and raised in Uganda.

Immaculate Nabisere (04:53):

Oh yes, definitely. Growing up I've not only observed, I've experienced, I've seen farming in the villages whereby with long droughts people have no access to food with, or even access to water. I've seen many malnourished children growing up. I remember seeing my mom having the open door policy for so many families who used to come home to eat with us. You know, all others just come and say my tell, asking my parents is like, okay my children have been sent home for school fees. We don't know what to do. And then you see my mom share sharing whatever she has with, you know, those ones who needed it, or they don't have sugar, or they don't have what to eat and you see mom giving them money or giving them dry food to take home. Yeah. this, and today, even in my meeting, we are talking about the projects, which MCC supports in Uganda, and it made me very emotional to see how many people you know, who know nothing about so many people in the countries where they're supporting, but they do care. The passion, the care, the kindness they have for the people they don't know. The $50 you're donating, the $20 or a hundred dollars, the huge impact it's making in people's lives. I was fortunate growing up, um my father, we were, we were blessed that we lived in abundance for a long while before things changed. But I witnessed it on the streets where children are begging, you know, for food mothers crying you know, because children are sick, they've been malnourished. They have no access to any resources. It's it's it was horrible. And right now it's when actually I think, I feel like the veil has been lifted because I'm working, you know, in the sector and seeing the kind of work we are doing and how impactful it is. I feel like now my eyes have been opened more. Before, maybe I had some goggles trying to notice as much as I am since coming to Canada.

Kyle Rudge (07:35):

Two women, two very different upbringings. One in Canada, on the fields, and one in Uganda. And yet both see the beautiful impact Grow Hope has on people in Canada and around the world. The Grow Hope program is a relatively simple concept. We, the donors sponsor an acre of farmland upon which the farmers who support the program, donate their land time and effort to cultivate and harvest the crop. The yield is then sold on the market and the proceeds are used for food and sustainability projects around the world. Your initial investment, literally, and well figuratively grows.

Immaculate Nabisere (08:13):

The project Grow Hope project helps to alleviate hunger and improve nutrition. As you know there is an estimate of over 820 million people who do not have access to food or who do not have food to eat. It's not that there isn't enough food in the world, but, you know with disasters, poverty or unfair policies it means that people can't access food. It leaves many people hungry and children are malnourished. So the, with this project we are trying to alleviate that problem that problem. Grow Hope also helps to build farmer resilience against climate change. For example, in Haiti, as you know it lies directly in the Atlantic or Atlantic hurricane path. As hurricanes and tropical storms get bigger and longer, there is soil erosion, which also poses a challenge to homes and livelihoods. So, MCC partnered with local church leaders to begin reforestation, agricultural programming in Haiti's Artibonite Valley, where people such as Aline Benard learned agricultural training to tend to have mountainside gardening. Ushe learned how to build,uhorizontal terraces to plant trees, grasses, and plants with deep roots to hold the soil in place.

Kyle Rudge (09:56):

Janice, the Grow Hope donor had the privilege of traveling to Haiti to visit several Grow Hope projects, and to see it in action firsthand.

Janice Kroeker (10:06):

It was a really, really good experience. You know, having supported MCC and Foodgrains Bank pretty much all our lives, it was really good to go and see the receiving end, like what actually happens once. Once the stuff gets there, the money or the supplies when it gets there. It was really neat to see the, the whole, the whole the whole program, so to speak. The sites that we visited, we visited a lot places and it was just always evident from the discussions that MCC is involved with it. And also, what was impressed on me was that very often it was local people running the projects they've been taught and they've been supported by MCC, but they have local people running the projects and I was really, really impressed with that. I think like I said, because I have farming background, I think the agriculture you know, the, the gardening as well as the reforestation that really really caught my attention. And what impressed me was that the agronomists that were teaching the, the people on the ground were actually from those mountains. They had, they had gone to the States and gotten educated and come back and are work working under MCC, heading up the projects and that was like, that was really, really nice to see.

Kyle Rudge (11:41):

One project that stuck out to Janice was the gardening project.

Janice Kroeker (11:44):

We visited three different gardens, all of them headed up by women, and they were just proudly showing us like how they're learning to grow a variety of crops. So, some with shorter growing seasons, longer growing seasons in order to have a longer harvest, which also means a longer season of having food to eat. And MCC provides them with some seeds and plants to get started. So, they plant their trees, like maybe lemon or mango or and then grow their vegetables among these trees. And, and this has a special purpose planting the trees and the vegetables in one plot helps the ground from eroding, which is such a big problem in the mountains. This way the fertile soil can't all wash away.

Kyle Rudge (12:36):

Two years ago, the United Nations reported that nearly one in three people did not have access to enough food. One in three. And while global food insecurity has been rising since 2014, the estimated increase in 2020 was equal to that of the previous five years combined. We are still feeling the effects of that today.

Immaculate Nabisere (13:01):

This is an opportunity for us to connect you and other urbanites to farmers in Manitoba, where you'll be able to learn more about farming, but at the same time, you will be connected to the land and have opportunities to learn more about the growing process, get to know our farming neighbours in Manitoba and appreciate even where our food comes from. You will also receive a specialized newsletter, which focuses on focuses on Grow Hope, updates, and stories, and also maybe also the impact of your support.

Kyle Rudge (13:48):

You can help MCC respond to the overwhelming rise in food insecurity through Grow Hope. By sponsoring an acre of Manitoba farmland, your support of MCC food projects multiplies to provide emergency food assistance and long-term food security around the world. You can support Grow Hope and find out more information at MCC Threads is produced by KR Words with story assistance from Nikki Hamm Gwala. Thank you to both Janice and Immaculate for sharing your stories and experiences with the project, and thank you to the farmers who are tending the crops that are to come this year. I'm Kyle Rudge and this is MCC Threads. [MUSIC]

Transcribed by

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