At Breakthrough, our goal is whole community transformation, and economic empowerment is critical for the community in Khon Kaen. Our village is in the Isaan region of Thailand, and there are not many economic opportunities. Agriculture is the dominant industry in our rural area, but farming is slow, heavy labor. It’s easy to see why many people choose to move to Bangkok for a job, breaking up families and often leaving their children with relatives in order to make a living.
We believe that the local agricultural industry is worth developing, and that more local economic opportunities – including farming – will bring healing and wholeness to our community.
We want the families in our village to be proud of what they grow and thankful for this land, and to see that they can practice saving money to send their children to school and end the cycle of poverty. We also want to teach the students in our program about the power of investing time and energy in a crop. We continue to hope that God will bless our fields, demonstrating to the whole village that God provides.
I am a daughter of a farmer, so I grew up seeing all of this but never really put my hands to it. When we started Breakthrough, sugarcane was the first thing we wanted to try to teach our kids to grow, so we walked through the learning process together – and learned that sugarcane is not an easy crop to grow or harvest. It grows slowly, and we did a lot of work by hand, literally shedding blood, sweat, and tears as we tended, harvested and carried the bundles of sugarcane in the heat.
When we harvested, though, the kids and students saw how all the hard work they’d poured into the field paid off. We divided the money toward three goals: a tithe, seed money for next year’s crop, and a university savings fund.
This is our fifth year growing sugarcane. The work is still heavy and hard and the weather is still very hot, so we need men to work alongside us. We would like to have more people walk alongside us to develop and improve our farming methods next year.
This year, we did not plant rice of our own, because buying rice for our current group of staff and students is less costly than farming it. Instead, we help people in the community with the harvest on the weekends, and they share some of the rice with us. This year’s harvesting will come soon, from October into December. At harvest time, everything is yellow and everyone helps each other. It’s still hot, but the sight is beautiful.
The rain crop depends a lot on the rain and water. Some years are good, and others are very bad. Last year there was a terrible drought, and it was a hard year for rice as well as sugarcane. This year we’ve had too much rain. As any farmer knows, it’s very difficult to know what to expect!
The goal for our garden is to provide some stability and self-sufficiency for our team here, but more than that we want our garden to be a place for kids to come and learn about simple agriculture – how it can be easier than they think and beautifully rewarding. We have many kind of vegetables, and flowers too! We developed our garden in partnership with a friend from Australia who has been helping us for a few years.
All the rain this year has been hard on our garden. Please pray for better weather for us.
Like farming, the work of developing economic opportunities is slow, labor intensive work. This coming season, please pray not only that God would bless our work with these crops, but also that God would bless the “seeds” we sow and tend in the hearts of our kids, students, and adults throughout the community.