Building Sustainability into Relief Aid with the Help of Some Feathered Friends

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.” – Jim Rohn, motivational speaker

Thanks to you, we had the opportunity to start working in Tapachula, Mexico, assisting vulnerable people last year. We began as we always do by listening to our partners and getting to know the community we serve. Our first steps included supporting a shelter, Cordova House, by distributing food for the people staying there and providing baby wraps. Our relationship strengthened as we worked alongside our new friends.

People often know what they need. The shelter wanted reliable access to fresh, healthy produce, while our migrant friends staying there wanted something to do. Displaced people used to have professions, kids to help with homework, and errands to run before poverty or violence forced them to flee. Without the rhythm of a daily routine, waiting in a shelter for a hearing with nothing to do is frustrating.

We implemented an agricultural project to provide food and jobs for vulnerable people staying at Cordova House. “I’m pretty sure that we can do something big here, and not only something that can impact our land and community, but something that can also impact positively in the life of our migrant friends,” said Octavio, the person in charge of the orchard at Cordova House. 

Partnering with Cordova House and a local farming family, we planted an orchard and some vegetable gardens on communal land. The farming family provided the land, tools, technical advice, and a connection to the local community. Preemptive Love provides funding, technical advice, and monitoring and evaluation for the project. Asylees waiting in Cordova House worked on the farm for a stipend if they wanted to. In return, the farm received 25% of the agricultural yield. Cordova House received 75% of the harvest, so asylees staying there have fresh fruit and vegetables. After we renewed this project for 2023, the farm now receives 20% of the yield, and Cordova House receives 80%. 

The project started with a couple of seeds in a plot of land, but as they took root, so did hope. Month after month, the project advanced, adding more and different kinds of crops, creating new life. Our migrant friends staying at Cordova House enjoyed coming to the farm to learn new skills, start healing in the tranquility of nature, and feel useful. We are filled with joy, knowing we were doing something good for people who had suffered so much.

As the new year begins, we look forward to new challenges. Our next goal is to make the project sustainable by adding a chicken coop to the farm. In the long run, the chicken coop will reduce food costs for Cordova House while it funds the farm’s agricultural projects. Thanks to your generosity, Octavia and some of our migrant friends built the coop and bought the chickens. As of late December, 2022, 200 chickens call the farm home.

We plan to breed chickens for sale, and when the chickens are too old to lay eggs, we plan to sell them as a healthy source of protein. When the chickens lay eggs, we will use them to feed our friends staying at the shelter and sell others to offset the cost of building the coop. We expect the coop to pay for itself within six months. 

One of our migrant friends help with the baby chicks. Photo by Octavio Villatoro for Preemptive Love

The chicken coop project runs similarly to the farm project. Cordova House provides workers who take care of the chickens in return for a stipend, and the farm has workers they can trust. Cordova House receives 70% of the fresh eggs and poultry meat, so the people staying there have healthy meals. The farm receives the other 30%. 

There is a social cohesion component embedded in this project. Asylees integrate with the local community as our migrant friends working on the farm get to know a local family and other local farm workers in a restorative natural environment. All the farm workers, our migrant friends from Cordova House, and farm workers from the local community eat together. What better way is there to build bonds than over food?

We are excited about what the future entails. Thanks to your generosity, we provide sustainable relief and build peace in partnership with our communities and migrant friends.