The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Jeff Lee, who serves in Macedonia with his wife, Alicia. You can learn more about their ministries and support their work at www.cbf.net/lee.
In 2017, we started a “Cow Bank” program to loan livestock to local farmers. The program focuses on helping local farmers grow their production. Agricultural development is essential to achieve sustainability.
One of the first farmers in the program was Daniel.
In the fall of 2017, we gave Daniel four young calves. Daniel takes care of the cows, using the milk to meet the needs of the people in his community. Our relationship with Daniel has grown over the past three years
The program states that recipients of the calves will repay the loan with the first offspring of the original animals. This August, we received four young calves from Daniel to repay the loan. These calves will stay at our farm until another farmer is chosen for the program, which currently has 16 participating farmers. The program impacts farmers in several communities across the country as they participate in cooperation with each other. Ekrim, another farmer in the program, lives close to our farm and helps us with the corn silage for our cows.
We are building beloved community with our neighbors as the relationships we build are based on mutual support with members of the community. Lupcho, another farmer in the program, began to work at our farm last year. This past month, his wife needed surgery and others in the program came together to raise the money needed to pay for the surgery.
Building relationships is essential for the work of the Cow Bank. We are hoping to increase the program to engage with more farmers throughout the year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many lives in Macedonia with many people in desperate need. The Food Bank of Macedonia has increased its operations over the past six months and has distributed over 20 tons of food this year. We anticipate that the need will continue to grow. An eight-year partnership between the Food Bank and CBF allows us to meet the needs of thousands of families across the country.
At the end of September, we began a project to package food boxes for over 1,600 families in every municipality across Macedonia. The boxes contain enough food to feed a family of four for a week and will include masks and hand sanitizer. We have engaged RETO, a local rehab ministry, to help with the delivery of the food across the country.