Plenty is focused on the following programs and projects in 2008:
Organic school gardens, environmental education, renewable energy, and micro lending in rural villages
Plenty Belize is a registered non-governmental organization located in Punta Gorda Town in Belize's southern Toledo District. This area borders Guatemala and is home to indigenous Mopan and Kek'chi Maya (about 65% of the district's 23,000 residents), as well as Garifuna, Creole, Mestizo, and East Indian people. Over 80% of the population is rurally based and relies on subsistence "slash and burn" agriculture for their livelihood. Malnutrition is a persistent problem, particularly for Mayan children. The Toledo District also is home to some of Central America's last remaining primary temperate rainforest.
In 2008 Plenty Belize's primary focus remains its Garden-Based Agriculture for Belize's Environment (GATE) program, which assists primary schools in developing organic gardens and provides environmental education for students, teachers, and parents. As an expansion to GATE, the Family Gardens project works in four villages with families committed to growing successful gardens at home. In cooperation with the Toledo School Feeding Program Plenty Belize provides support to rural schools that want to begin volunteer-run lunch programs for their students. Promotion of renewable energy via small scale solar applications will continue in 2008, as well as the provision of micro-loans for small-scale economic development projects for single mothers and families.
Learn more about projects in Belize .
GULF COAST RECOVERY
Plenty has been a long-term partner in local hurricane recovery efforts in New Orleans, LA, Biloxi, MS and other towns along the Gulf Coast that were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 . Our work is focused on repairing homes for the elderly and other forgotten residents as well as documenting local conditions and grassroots recovery efforts. Several dedicated volunteers have established long term ties with a network of community centers and schools , providing material help and support, as well as thousands of donated books. Volunteers with construction skills are making a critical difference in how much can get done and are still needed!
Expanding the availability of locally produced high nutrient foods improves family nutrition and increases employment in rural and urban communities.
Our successful Central American Food Security Program (CAFSI) concluded much of its full-scale operations in 2007. Plenty, however, will continue its long-term association with the community-based non-profit organizations involved in CAFSI: the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival (Mexico), Asociacion Desarrollo Integral de Belen - ADIBE (Guatemala), Unidas Para Vivir Mejor - UPAVIM (Guatemala), and SoyNica (Nicaragua). The extent of our material support will depend on available funding. Each group provides employment opportunities, education, health care and other services for economically disadvantaged families. Plenty will provide technical support as requested.
Plenty's support of home, school, and community gardens in Belize and at Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota are also a component of our Food Security program.
KIDS TO THE COUNTRY
Plenty's "Nature and Nurture" school offers education, conflict resolution, fresh air and creative opportunities for young people.
Kids To The Country in middle Tennessee gives inner-city kids aged 6-12 the opportunity to experience the beauty and inspiration of the natural world and more. During weekly summer sessions, KTC combines practical conflict resolution skills and environmental education with activities such as horseback riding, gardening, swimming, and talent shows. An urban Nashville community "reunion garden" and three other seasonal events (spring Earth Day, Fall Harvest Festival, and winter Kwanzaa celebration) keep the kids connected during the year and reinforce the KTC philosophy of respect and friendship with each other and the natural world. For two years, Plenty has hosted several groups of "Katrina kids" to the summer program, giving them a chance to experience a new part of the country away from the devastation of the Gulf Coast.
EDUCATION & VOLUNTEERS
Since its founding in 1974, an essential part of Plenty's work has been to inform North Americans and others about the lives of people who may have fewer material advantages, but who live with a wealth of spirit and resolve. We publish a quarterly Bulletin, maintain a periodic listserve ,a blog and also produce multi-media presentations on our work. Plenty also offers opportunities for volunteers to participate in projects.
Pine Ridge Gardens
The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is home to about 30,000 people; most are Oglala Lakota. With 80 percent unemployment, the majority of residents live well below what is commonly known as the "poverty line." The South Dakota County where Pine Ridge is located consistently ranks as the poorest per capita in the US. Many rely on USDA surplus commodities that are typically high in fat, salt and sugar and exacerbate the high incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease there. The longstanding Slim Butte Agri-Dev Community Gardens project is one locally run effort to improve the health of the Lakota people. The project is largely funded by the nonprofit, "Running Strong for Native American Youth," but Plenty, which was instrumental in founding the project with members of the Slim Buttes Tiospaye (extended family) links volunteers and provides occasional technical and financial help to assist this greatly needed project and other projects at Pine Ridge that promote local self-sufficiency and cultural sovereignty.
In 2008 Plenty is assisting in a local effort to stop the expansion of uranium mining near the reservation which threatens local water sources. Read more.
Virtually no rural school in India has a toilet for its students. Because of our project support in response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of southern India, Plenty has been asked by our friends at Wherever The Need to partner with them to raise funding to build "Eco-san" toilets at rural schools in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India. These are being requested by schools or from women's self-help groups who want to have a toilet facility in their village or neighborhood.
Imani House, Liberia
The West African nation of Liberia has struggled through civil war and political upheaval for years. Now, with the 2006 election of the country's first female president, there is hope that more attention will be paid to alleviating the severe poverty and political inequity that has plagued Liberia for so long. The non-governmental organization IMANI HOUSE INTERNATIONAL (IHI) has responded to the needs of the population for more nearly two decades. IHI runs a medical and dental clinic near the capital city of Monrovia, offers agricultural training in rural areas, a literacy program for market women, and other social services. Funding and other resources are needed to help IHI continue their critical services in 2008.
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