As a Maryknoll Sister, one quickly learns that there is no corner of the world without people who urgently need to know that someone cares about them. Our mission is to go, to care, and to let those people know that God cares too.
Sister Delia Marie (Dee) Smith, M.M., works in the Central American nation of Guatemala among people infected with HIV/AIDS. The rate of infection is high there, and made worse by two factors: the lack of access to medical care and other support due to poverty; and the fact that many of the patients are rejected by their families and communities out of fear or judgment. Sister Dee co-founded Proyecto Vida (Project Life), which provides support for people who are HIV+ and a hospice for those with AIDS. The project offers help to those with nowhere else to turn—those whose lives can be extended by decades through medical and drug treatment, and those in need of peace and dignity as they face the end of this life.
She knew that food self-sufficiency would be an important factor in the ongoing success and stability of Proyecto Vida. With a generous gift from a benefactor, Sister Dee and her team were able to purchase a plot of land and start a small but productive farm called the Eco Granja Santa María (Eco-Farm of Saint Mary).
“We hired a young man who was studying agro-ecology in an extension of the Rural University of Guatemala.” she recalls, “and he got up and running with worm composting, tropical fruit cultivation, herbs and medicina plants, chicken rearing and free-range egg production, as well as a small banana and papaya grove.”
The small farm also began raising bees to produce honey. With this project, the people who rely upon Proyecto Vida are no longer at the mercy of the availability, price, and safety of purchased food.
With today’s medical treatments, it’s possible for HIV+ people to live for decades, even indefinitely, without developing full-blown AIDS. But that also depends on maintaining good nutrition, a healthy approach to life (physically, mentally and spiritually). Proyecto Vida and the Eco Farm help to bring these things to many people.
The Eco Farm has been a great success, but Sister Dee needs help from faithful friends like you to keep it that way. Facilities need to be maintained, things need to be replaced, and supplies are always needed.
Your friendship and support is a true blessing to the countless people the Maryknoll Sisters serve around the world. On their behalf, we offer our sincerest thanks and our warmest prayers!