THIRSTY GROUND UPDATES

July Update: Over 3,000 Masks Sewn And a New Agriculture Initiative!

I apologize we missed a couple months for updates. At the start of May our host country came off of strict COVID lockdown and life got very busy again.

However, just because the lockdown was eased, we’ve by no means escaped the coronavirus. Cases are climbing rapidly this month, and we have the first confirmed case via PCR test in our own mountain refugee community.

Over 3,000 Cloth Face Masks Sewn & Donated

One of the stacks of masks the team has produced for donation to hospitals & the community

The team of ladies sewing cloth face masks has grown to become over half a dozen individuals working from their homes. They have refined their technique and continue to produce a large amount of cloth face masks for donation. As of today we have produced 3,190 high-quality cloth face masks and counting!

These are being donated to people in our own community as well as hospitals and organizations across the country. We’ve provided hundreds to local churches that needed them in order to resume in-person services too. There always seems to be a need for more, especially as COVID continues to spread and the govt makes face masks compulsory for people venturing out of their homes.

As this pandemic shows little sign of abating, and our Mid East location likely an extremely low priority if/when a vaccine ever becomes available, we intend to continue with this program to help the community.

New Food Security/Sustainable Ag Project

One of the large squashes growing in a refugee garden started by our earlier project

Some may remember previous updates discussing a nascent gardening project to help refugees turn small plots of unused land near their homes into productive gardens. By God’s grace, that pilot project has so far been successful and the land is producing abundantly for these families.

However, in the last two months, it became apparent the economic and international trade implications of COVID-19 were impacting food security in our host country. Most of the food stuffs are imported from outside the country. With major economic problems facing this country and the refugee population, the cost of imported food has skyrocketed, while domestic food production is still very under developed.

We decided to step out and try to expand the concept of the pilot gardening project to now focus on revitalizing abandoned farmsteads in this country in order to restore their productive capacity. This land used to be part of the fertile crescent, a veritable bread basket. Due to cheap food imports from abroad, domestic farming fell into neglect. Now that import costs shot up, it is becoming viable and cheaper to grow locally again.

One of the terrace rows of bean plants on hill-side farmland after the initial seeds began to sprout.

The countryside is littered with abandoned, overgrown, ancient farm land that used to feed civilizations for thousands of years. We are trying to bring some of it back into use in order to increase food security for our own community. Our long-term hope is to develop a series of small-scale sustainable (and fully organic) agricultural projects that can continue on for years to come under the oversight of local Christians we partner with.

This has meant a LOT of work in recent months clearing out decades of undergrowth with hand sickles, tilling up the hardened ground with hoes or mattocks, installing hundreds of meters of drip irrigation line, and planting row after row of Mediterranean-appropriate food crops. In some places the growth was so thick with thorns that would rip gloves and shirts to shreds that it took a week just to clear a few dozen meters. But by God’s grace it got done.

Some of the earliest planted bean stalks are now already creeping up to the top of their trellises.

We planted late for this year due to the project start being delayed by COVID. Pray the crops could still make it to harvest in time before winter. We have some of the earliest-planted seeds already growing steadily, so we are optimistic. Conservative estimates on harvest yields of similar sized operations locally indicate we could potentially reap 3-4 tons or more of produce this year if all goes well. That would be a lot of food to give to folks before the winter!

Thank You For Praying & Supporting!

Thank you to all of those praying for and helping these different efforts in various ways. In addition to the above new projects, we continue to provide regular food distribution for approx 60 families – refugees and now some local families too – as well as a large amount of medicines given each week to the chronically and acutely sick.

We trust the Lord will accompany the works of compassion with His own work in the hearts of men and women receiving these helps. Thank you for praying with us.

If you wish to be involved in any way, you can support TGI via our site, sign up for our relief updates e-mail newsletter to better know how to pray, or contact us if you are interested in knowing more about how to be personally involved.

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