Fond memories of cultivating their own trees and harvesting the fruit. July 6, 2017 - Dominican Republic
Mariela and Jonatan together under a palm tree
Here at NPH, we provide a loving and caring sanctuary while helping children, youth and young adults reach their full potential. While our children arrive with difficult backgrounds, that does not mean that all of their past moments have been negative. We want them to remember their beautiful memories as well, as their past helps shape who they are today. To help them remember and also develop productive members of society, we have asked two children to share the joys they found in farming. - A note from the author
Mariela and Jonatan lived in Consuelo, a municipal in San Pedro in the Dominican Republic before joining our NPH family. Although their life before NPH was filled with poverty, they were able to find joy, happiness and stability in farming. Mariela began farming when she was nine, and finds comfort in being able to eat the fruits of her labor. Jonatan, her younger brother, shares the same passion for farming as his older sister. Together they grew, ate, and sold mangos and smiling and laughing they told me about their trees in Consuelo.
Mariela explained to me that she loved picking mangos from the trees because she felt accomplished, and good, after picking something she grew with her two hands. She expressed her love and devotion for the fruits and expressed extreme happiness while pulling mangos off the tree to eat. “I would eat them because they were deliciously sweet and juicy” she mentioned in our chat. The first fruit Mariela and Jonatan grew was the mango, and they are both extremely proud of the knowledge they gained through the agriculture process.
The children learned discipline from taking care of the trees every day. They watered the trees twice a day, every day, once at 6 am and again at 5:30 pm. Both watched in amazement as the flowers and leaves grew, and Jonatan commented “with time, soon they [the flowers] are beautiful and little by little they start producing fruit.” The fruits in time, become soft and juicy. Jonatan said “when they are ripe we would pick them and we would eat them, it takes a long time to eat a mango, and even longer to pick all the mangos.”
Not only would the children learn discipline from watering the trees, they also learned the value of a peso. They would also sell their fruits to neighbors and anyone who passed by. Mariela said “We would also sell mangos as a method of income.” Jonatan added “we would sell one mango for five pesos”. Their experience with mangos was wonderful, because not only did they learn to farm, they also learned the value of hard work along with patience and how to care for the earth, in the process.
Here in our NPH home, the children unfortunately do not have the same opportunity to pick and eat mangos off the tree, but there is a new project where all children are welcome to plant and cultivate produce. This is a very recent development, started in January 2017, but both siblings have expressed positive feedback for the project. Jonatan expressed his desire to plant corn in the plot that he shares with his housemates.
We have another opportunity for the children, available to second-year high school students and older, the Program to Strengthen Character and Work ethic (PFCT). The program PFCT offers valuable life skills to youth who work in our farm and learn about the cultivation cycles.
It is safe to say that in the near future, when they are old enough, Jonatan and Mariela will be the first in line to help cultivate produce. At NPH Jonatan and Mariela are very well cared for and are thriving since entering our home in 2013. They are in a variety of scheduled activities and are very active youth (see photos), and well-liked by all.
Mariela participates in Mass every week singing in the choir, and just preformed the creation story for our NPH home on Earth Day. Jonatan is always busy playing with his housemates building kites, playing tetherball, and reading. Both children are very intelligent and have been given many more opportunities than would have been available to them if they had stayed in their home in Consuelo.
At NPH we try to remind children of their positive past memories along with discussing their future and their individual goals. With this knowledge and self-understanding, we encourage them to go forth and become productive members of society.
Kelsey A. Communication Officer Assistant
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson