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Enabling Older Parishioners in Arequipa, Peru, to Grow Nutritious Food

Helping older people grow fresh food is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

In Arequipa, Peru, a group of older people gather at the local parish every Friday. With our Sisters’ help, they began a project to grow vegetables on a small piece of land behind the parish house.

Sister Pat Gootee explains, “We put up a fence around the garden land and asked City Hall to send some men to plow the land that had become very hard…the older folks came to pick up the rocks from the dirt and plant their seeds, and they brought bottles of water from their houses for their plot of land to make the seeds grow.”

Because Arequipa has a very dry climate, the need for water was ongoing. The group decided to ask City Hall to install a tank of water beside the garden, to be used to water the plants. After many months of insisting that this tank be installed, it was finally put in place. Meanwhile, the land dried up and became very hard. After many requests, City Hall again sent some men to plow the land and remove the rocks.

Sister Pat says, “Most of the older people have migrated from the mountain areas as young people, so they have their roots among the farmers in the mountain valleys. They truly enjoy working on the land and watching their seeds sprout and grow.” With the water tank, the older folks are very hopeful about producing something this year.

She reflects, “Like so many areas on this planet, there is very little water on the mountain sides around Arequipa. The relationship of hard work, to prepare the land and finally to produce a harvest is important but difficult. So much of the land in Peru is desert, and the miracle is to transform this desert into a green garden. This is the kingdom of heaven made visible.”

July 15, 2012