Seeds of Hope: A Call to Transform Lives in the Heart of the Congo

Dear Regeneration Supporters,

Happy Holidays! As the year draws to a close, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to those who generously contributed to our Giving Tuesday fundraiser last month. Thanks to your kindness, we raised $500. These funds can go a long way in the places where they are needed the most. These funds will allow us to plant ~1000 more food trees in places like eastern Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2024. These trees will provide sustenance for ~100 food insecure families, nourishing them through good times and bad, for decades to come.

I wanted to share with you, a little more about the lives of the families who are supported by your donations and introduce you this month to our grassroots partner based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Association Paysanne pour l’Autosuffisance Alimentaire (APAA). This year, like most in this part of the Congo Basin, has been filled with challenges, triumphs, and an unwavering commitment to transforming lives on the shores of Lake Kivu, despite significantly lower levels of funding -we think because funders are overwhelmed with requests from so many in need after the pandemic. Support from individual gifts are more urgently needed than ever.

APAA operates in the heart of a very important biodiversity hotspot, The Congo Basin, which is one of the top 3 largest remaining tropical forest habitats on the planet. Families we work with are living alongside highly endangered mountain antelope, the Bonobo, as well as threatened primates including chimpanzees, forest elephants, and dangerous hippos. This is the ancestral forest home of many indigenous tribes, including some Pygmy forest dwelling peoples, who recently have faced displacement and total disruption of their culture and way of life, due to extreme external pressures for logging and gold mining which have devasted the forest in their lands with impunity. 

APAA, founded over two decades ago, by local Aaron Kalala Karumba, is a beacon of hope for these communities. With minimal funding and a small local team, APAA uplifts ~3500 marginalized villagers and teaches them how to restore degraded forest habitats, and feed themselves sustainably, using permaculture methods. In the past few years, additional burdens of a rise in gender violence, and extreme floods and droughts have also plagued the area, on top of the struggles brought by the covid-19 pandemic.

With your support and technical assistance from Regenerative Farms, we aim to launch the groundbreaking of a Regeneration Hub processing facility in 2024. This work began in 2022, with the creation of trainings, demonstration food forest gardens in 3 communities, expansion of a tree seedling nursery, distrubtion of vegetable seeds, and culminated with the distribution of 20,000 food tree seedlings that were planted during the fall rains of 2023, by 7 villages thanks to grants from Jonas Philanthropies and the Trees for Climate Health Initiative. With your help, we plan to launch the next step in this process, building the flour mill processing centers in 3 villages. These will become Multi-Community, Diversified Crop Processing Facilities, which will help prevent crop losses due to spoilage, and will allow the communities to improve their food and nutrition security while improving local incomes, and fighting gender oppression and violence.

Imagine a community where the women and girls of every family no longer have to spend five hours daily hand-grinding maize and cassava, just to feed everyone, but instead have the freedom to dedicate that time to gaining an education, improving their regenerative farming, and restoring their forests. This is the vision APAA and RF aim to bring to life, and we need your help to make it a reality. We are working to raise $25,000 by January 1. Every dollar counts. Please make a contribution today.

In the heart of the Congo, where armed conflicts have raged for decades, girls and women face unspeakable exposure on a daily basis to child marriage, gender violence, a lifetime of trauma, and discrimination, with little to no access to medical care or mental health services. Life is about survival. Many of their families live in resettlement camps, having had to flee their lands during rebel raids, and growing food is the only way to feed their children, a serious challenge without access to good seeds, training, credit, or fertile land, nver mind the dangerous wildlife and continued threat from armed rebel groups. 

APAA’s training center is a demonstrated success. It litterally overflows with crowds of people, as families vie for space at their value trainings, sitting outdoors under the scorching sun, just to hear Aaron teach, because without this information, they will continue to struggle to eat. Aaron hopes to expand his classroom size, and his ability to travel out to more rural communities with his staff. He currently rides to these villages on a rented motor bike, a difficult and hazardous journey on muddy rutted roads, where security is a constant threat.

His dedication is unwavering however, as his message is so valuable to his students. Picture these women, who tend a small 1-2 hectare rainfed African farmstead, usually located more than a 12km walk from the nearest village centers, in places where children are stollen and armed to wage decades long conflicts, and resource extraction has destroyed the forest, leaving families vulnerable to climate change, and living in extreme poverty. Women and children’s health and well-being is impacted by constant threats and insecurity. Malnutrition rates are alarming. Through all of this, Aaron, and APAA, are highly regarded near and far as a steadfast ally, known for helping downtrodden women transform their lives, their farms and their communities.

However, a crucial link is still missing—a source of on going funding. RF hopes to raise funds to help APAA build a Multi-Community Tree Crop Processing Facility that will help families support themselves and the work of APAA long into the future. We need your support to help build this facility, which will be equipped with solar crop dryers, flour milling machines, and seed oil presses. This value-added processing facility will empower at least 500 women farmers, directly impacting the lives of at least 3500 villagers. Your donation today will not only support the processing center but will grow into the seeds of change, and self-sufficiency for these villages, contributing to increased food security, better incomes, and a flourishing environment where trees and biodiversity are protected for a better future.

Join us in this transformative journey. Donate today and be part of the story that brings tears of joy to those who have known only hardship. Let’s plant the seeds of change in 2024 and watch them grow into a forest of hope.

Thank you for your interest in our work. Please consider making a year-end or monthly donation to help us reach more families in need in 2024.

Ways to Give:

DONATE by credit card via Paypal

Call 413.475.0864. Mail checks made out to Regenerative Farms to: 1230 West Rd. Ashfield, MA 01330.

With Sincere Gratitude,

Aaron Kalala Karumba, Founder/Director, Association Paysanne pour l’Autosuffisance Alimentaire and Mary Johnson, Founder

DONATE by credit card via Paypal

Other ways to give:

Support our work through your donor-advised fidelity fund with this link or Donate through Guidstar.org and see our profile

Connect with me on LinkedIn | mary@regenerativefarms.org | mobile
Watch our 1 min. Regeneration Hub explainer video and Subscribe to Our YouTube Channel to learn more about regenerative agriculture and the methods we teach farmers. Regenerative farming helps rural families meet their basic needs while protecting forests, and biodiversity and actively restoring degraded land.

Trust and Transparency are Important to Everyone. Our non-profit Employer Id Number is 86.2475402. Verify our MA Attorney General’s charity registration details here. Our latest audited financials and IRS 990 forms are available on our website and upon request.

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