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In developing countries, poor families’ simplest and most realistic path to economic improvement is most often through agrigulture. The achievement of a steady income and the ability to feed, clothe and shelter their children begins with what they know best: in many cases, growing crops and raising animals. That is why agriculture projects often play a role in the Church’s efforts to empower disadvantaged communities.
Workers and families hoping to rise out of poverty and achieve financial independence have a major roadblock: a lack of capital. A day laborer who doesn’t earn enough to eat three meals a day has no resources to invest in even the humblest financial venture, such as purchasing a pig for breeding. With no money to spare, and little to no business training, even the most ambitious and hardworking families feel trapped in their misery.
Families in abject poverty lack the resources to invest in growing crops and raising livestock.
It’s easy to tell the poor, “Get a job!” What is not so easy is creating the conditions in which people who have nothing can tap into economic opportunities and begin to generate wealth.
In developing countries, most people do at least a little farming to make ends meet and keep their bellies full. For many, it is their whole livelihood. However, their formal education often does not go beyond elementary school, and they have no access to money — earned, inherited or loaned — they might use to invest in business opportunities.
These families are so deep in the cycle of poverty that they cannot even leverage the one skill they do have — farming — to boost their economic status. They opt for the cheapest crops and animals, and they avoid the risk of trying new things, because they cannot afford to fail. A lost harvest means going to bed hungry, so they take the safe route. Season after season, they plant the same rice and corn crops, knowing they will earn very little for it, and sapping the soil’s nutrients in the process.
Even so, sometimes their crops fail anyway. A weak rainy season or a tropical storm can wipe out everything. Families who started with so little end up with nothing.
These families could hardly work harder, but they could work more effectively. To achieve that, they need to be trained in sustainable farming methods, and they need capital to invest in buying land, seeds and animals and taking small risks. The Church recognizes these needs, and it is addressing them by organizing and supporting agriculture programs around the world. A transformation is under way, and you can be a part of it!
Agriculture projects enable struggling families to grow small businesses and earn a steady income.
Cross Catholic Outreach opens doors of opportunity for workers to rise from the uncertainty of subsistence farming and the wages of a day laborer to the prosperity of a strong, sustainable agriculture business. This is achieved through crop and animal husbandry programs rooted in the God-given dignity of the poor and aimed at helping them gain greater self-sufficiency. With the right training and material support — sometimes even including veterinary services — a farmer can increase his crop yield, diversify his product and implement sustainable methods that boost profitability and make his family more financially secure. Small scale loans can also help — especially when offered in the context of faith-centered accountability groups. As we help families reap a profitable harvest, we also sow the seeds of God’s Word and cultivate a vibrant spiritual life that can transform a community.
Our friends in the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala, report local poverty so severe that many men feel compelled to leave the country in search of opportunity — leaving women and children alone to survive on subsistence farming. By empowering the poor with agricultural programs, we can help impoverished individuals attain economic independence to provide for their families and communities.
By giving to Cross Catholic Outreach, you will equip ministry partners around the world to implement agriculture programs that can deliver a measurable boost to families’ real income. These local missions, dioceses and lay-led organizations are able to use their knowledge of regional economies and their relationships with the communities to develop the best programs and select the best candidates for participation. As families increase their knowledge and resources and continue to invest in their work, their nutrition improves, they become healthier, their children are more likely to get an advanced education, and the cycle of poverty begins to break.
To effectively meet the need for financial empowerment, Cross Catholic Outreach supports the work of in-country partners — including the Guatemalan Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima.
The Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima and other Catholic ministry partners like it offer agriculture programs that give poor rural families a chance to increase their earning power without having to resort to desperate measures. In the case of the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima, each participant receives agricultural supplies such as fertilizer and citrus trees, along with the training needed for success. Your support also strengthens the diocese’s spiritual outreach into these poor villages, where a robust evangelization effort, spread through Catholic lay leaders and community groups, is making deep inroads and restoring hope.
Lorenza Realejo Fuentes has been participating in the Santa Rosa agriculture program for several years, and it has completely transformed her life. “Before, it was eat and pay rent, eat and pay rent,” she said. “Now I have enough funds to pay for the land, plus make a profit.”
Ifride Derbernard, a mother of five, participates alongside her neighbors and friends in the konbit, a community farming project organized by the Kobonal Haiti Mission. The work, which helps feed local schoolchildren, has taught her principles that she can apply in her private garden, where she grows eggplant, papaya, Congo beans, corn and tapioca for her family.
Cross Catholic Outreach wants to strengthen struggling families by supporting the work of local priests, sisters and other aid workers carring out Christ’s mission of mercy.
You can donate below or browse our catalog to find a current project that moves your heart. Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated. We strive to minimize operating costs and send as much of your gift as possible to programs directly impacting the poor.
Giving monthly is a small way to have a big impact. Your regular support empowers our ministry to respond to urgent needs and fulfill our long-term projects across the world.
How do we help the poor?
To effectively address poverty, Cross Catholic Outreach looks not only at the immediate needs of the poor but also at long-term transformation. We work through local Catholic parishes and ministries, equipping them to give food, water, shelter, medicine and other critical aid to those who need it most, and bolstering their efforts to help the poor rise out of poverty and achieve their dreams. For example, by boosting the resources and knowledge available to subsistence farmers, you empower them to grow their earning power and feed their families.
How can I help end poverty?
Cross Catholic Outreach offers many opportunities for you to get involved in lifting families out of poverty. You can fund local Catholic missions in developing countries around the world as they empower the poor with scholarships, school feeding programs, job training, and microenterprise support. Direct your gift toward a specific project that touches your heart, or simply give to our Most Urgent Needs Fund. With your help, we can foster long-term relationships with overseas communities and work for real, lasting change, bolstered by a commitment to Catholic values and social teaching.
Why do poor countries remain poor?
The cycle of poverty is real not only at a family level but also at a nationwide level. Until the root problems that prevent economic development are addressed, widespread poverty will continue. This is not just an economic issue but also a social, political, and even geographical issue. For communities to thrive, they need an environment that encourages and rewards business, entrepreneurship, innovation and financial investment. This means having things such as a stable government, basic infrastructure, educational opportunities and a market economy in which the general public is not barred from meaningful participation by overregulation or an exploitative regime.
While Cross Catholic Outreach cannot address all these issues, we do equip our partners to make needed changes at a community level. Equipping farmers to profitably expand their agricultural endeavors is a practical and achievable way to improve families’ lives for the long term.
Does microfinance really help the poor?
Microfinance is most effective when the provision of a loan or supplies are combined with training and accountability. A randomized trial among 3,537 female entrepreneurs in Kenya revealed that the women who received training experienced 18% higher sales and 15% higher profits than those who did not. Cross Catholic Outreach prioritizes microfinance programs that take this more holistic approach and also provide spiritual edification.
Why is microfinance important to developing countries?
In developing countries, the poor have few employment options and lack the capital to invest in business opportunities. The small loans they would need for something like a pigpen or to set up a roadside food stand are unavailable at traditional banks. Some turn to loan sharks, but the interest they must pay is crippling. By contrast, the microfinance programs our ministry partners run provide small loans at low to zero interest and give participants the knowledge, encouragement and accountability they need to truly succeed.
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.