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Past Success, Future Hope

February 7, 2012 by Don Rogers

Has this ever happened to you?  That moment when you pass someone or someplace and a flood of memories surfaces like a submarine bursting through the ocean ceiling.  That happened to me recently as I was driving near Mwanza, Tanzania and felt compelled to pass by a village where I lived 16 years ago.  During those days the plague of poverty and lack of ideas and opportunity brought over a dozen Tanzanians and myself to our knees to pray and then to our knees to work as we filled small plastic bags with soil and seeds. Together we prayed that the thousands of seeds we had planted would germinate to become small trees that would strengthen the environment and generate income for people who were suffering because of poverty.

Not only did those seeds germinate but so did many other ideas as like minded people came together to begin a new ministry called Empowering Lives International.  Over 15 years have passed since that first project was initiated. As I drove by that same village recently I felt compelled to pass by the same compound that was once filled with trees and hopeful lives to see, if by chance or providence, I might meet someone I might remember.

Just pulling off the road at that point brought back many memories but I was not prepared for what I was about to see.  First of all – the tree nursery that we began over fifteen years ago was still there –  BUT –  it was ten times larger than before!  As I walked in among the neatly arranged rows of small trees, flowers, and colors, I approached a small group of women who were busily filling tubes with soil and chatting as they worked. I greeted each person one by one and felt that I recognized the last woman. I stared until I remembered who she was.  A moment that took place 15 years ago came forward in my mind and I asked if she was the one.  And she was.

She was the woman who lived next door. She use to sit and watch our project from a distance as we filled tubes , poked in seeds, and watered the plants until she became convinced that she could also do the same thing – and she did! She soon had her own front yard filled with small trees and that day – 15 years ago – I took her picture as she held her baby in one arm and a tree seedling for sale  in the other. Her enthusiasm was contagious as was her determination to break out of poverty and provide a better life and direction for her child – which brings me back to today.

After all of these years she was, and still is, there – smiling – and working to bless and provide for her family.  I reminded her of those beginning days from years past and I will not forget her response; “Yes – that was me and my baby back then and this is me and here is that same boy.”  She pulled a teenage boy into the conversation and a smile filled her face.  “This project has helped me and my family for all these years!  I have fed and clothed my children and even sent them to school because of this work. I thank God that I am able to create and build a future with hope for my children. God is good!”  As I shook her hand to leave I took notice that over 25 other women were also a part of this same project now.  I have a new memory to celebrate and I look forward to visiting again as soon as possible.

Even as you read this today I know that Momma Emma’s humble hands are again touching the soil or watering some seedlings.  Her children have observed a mother who has given her all to see their lives reach greater heights. She continues to build on a foundation of knowledge she acquired years ago that helped change the course of her life and her sons’ future – creating positive memories her children will never forget.  Though you may not have stepped among the trees Momma Emma has planted – you have stepped into a circle of lives that are pooling their strengths and care together to see that hopeful lives are changed for the better. This is a team effort made up of people who come together with gifts of finance, time, care, and prayer. Your participation on this journey of empowering lives is needed and appreciated and there is no greater urgency to reach more lives than now.  It may be difficult for one person to change the whole world – but together we can change the whole world for one person!

Empowering lives together,

Don Rogers

Founder / Intl. Director

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Categories: Community Investment Micro Enterprise Tanzania