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Dina’s Story — Celebrating the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

August 2014

In honor of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples I’d like to tell you the story of Dina Julaju Quiche.

Dina is a young, petite woman. Her calm demeanor and smile does not give any impression of her struggles as a single mother trying to raise four children on a 150 square foot piece of land.

Before Dina’s husband suddenly died from illness, he urged her to participate in the Vegetable Garden Project led by our partner the National Coordination of Peasants and Indigenous People (CONIC). “He left a good example for me and my children. The garden helps us get by,” said Dina.

The project has taught Dina how to make her small parcel of land as productive as possible using organic farming techniques. Besides tending to their family vegetable garden, she also raises pigs and chickens, and maintains another garden full of flowers and medicinal plants in case someone gets sick. She also leases additional land for her animals to graze on and to grow larger crops like corn and beans.

But Dina and her family aren’t alone in their struggle. Women in indigenous communities in Sololá, Guatemala and throughout Mesoamerica rely on each other for everything, which is why the Vegetable Garden Project is so important.

In addition to the hands-on agricultural training and tools the project provides, it also creates space for women to build relationships, to participate in community discussions and to share their individual knowledge with each other.  

“I say this to all women: Grow a garden for yourself and your children, because it brings important things,” said Dina.

With support from Grassroots International, the Vegetable Garden Project helped Dina overcome a tragic moment in her life.

This is one of the many examples of how supporting Grassroots International helps donors and activists in the United States stand with indigenous organizations from Honduras to Brazil to Zimbabwe to India – groups engaged in ongoing organizing to protect their rights and the rights of Mother Earth. Together we will continue to make real impacts in the lives of indigenous people and small farmers around the world.

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