Below is a story from a child sponsored through the child-sponsor program with World Vision.
Author/photographer: Eugene Lee
With each swing of his pickaxe Lucio Mamani Katari, 52, breaks the dry ground under his feet. Then he carefully walks a straight line, pulling up onions, shaking off the loose dirt, and gathering each one in his hands.
He’ll repeat this over each line of onions in his field – collecting the fruits of his labor.
Lucio, who is a farmer in Bolivia, is also breaking ground in his community. He proves actions speak louder than words. World Vision’s sponsorship program enables his generosity and strengthens his commitment to his daughter Yuridia’s future.
His home in the Conchiri area is an hour’s drive off the main road from the little town of Soracachi. It’s tucked far between the foothills of the plains. The land is not lush and green like in other parts of the country. Instead, Conchiri is brown, and the sun at this high elevation—about 12,500 feet—is more intense than it looks. Many people in this area don’t make enough money to meet basic needs.
Despite the area’s high poverty rate and hardscrabble land, Lucio and his wife, Alejandrina, make ends meet for their family of eight. In fact, they bring their best produce to World Vision staff members to give away to others.
Lucio credits World Vision for much of his family’s well being. “They looked after us as Christians,” he says of all the help he received.
However, this abundance was not always the case.
“I was a very poor man. The only thing I had were a couple of sheep,” says Lucio. When World Vision came to Soracachi 17 years ago, he participated in agriculture training to learn to grow different types of vegetables and got supplies to build greenhouses.
“Through the training I received, I took the risk of having a cow, then two, and then I started having a little more. And that began to change things,” he says.
As Lucio’s participation in sponsorship-funded programs grew, his heart was also open to new ways of thinking.
“In the past it was very different. We would go out drinking, my wife and I, and we would fight with everybody and everybody would fight with us,” Lucio says. “We would go from strife to strife. And when we became Christians, we became different kind of people. We started thinking about other people and helping other people.”
Lucio became a leader in local community associations, working with World Vision to bring potable water to the community. And through World Vision’s Active Fatherhood program, he also learned how to be a better parent.
This program challenged traditional male values and taught fathers to be involved with their kid’s lives. They learned to help their children with schoolwork, take them to the doctor, and talk to them in an open manner.
Soon, Lucio began to see the value of education for his children through World Vision’s child sponsorship program. He went against cultural norms and encouraged his 13-year-old daughter, Yuridia, a sponsored child, to pursue more school. Since his community does not have a high school, Lucio sent Yuridia to live with an aunt in Oruro, a city about 90 minutes away, to continue her education. This decision likely decreased the chance of early marriage for his daughter.
“If you ask me, what you have to do is obey the Bible,” says Lucio. “In the Bible it says that you have to love your children.”
Lucio’s actions also speak to the love for his community. The produce he gives to World Vision staff to distribute among less fortunate families grows on his plot of land, made fruitful from agricultural training.
The family grows a wide variety of crops, including lettuce, onions, turnips, carrots, quinoa, and potatoes; the greenhouses he built with World Vision’s help provide perfect conditions to grow strawberries and tomatoes. He also has cows, sheep and llamas to sell.
“They say to [us], ‘You have to give this to those that need it,’” says World Vision sponsorship facilitator Maribel Limachi Bravo of Lucio and Alejandrina. “Despite the fact that it’s a very big family and they have probably some needs, they continue to share with other people.”
Lucio’s desire to help others is alive and real— it’s good works rooted in faith.