Last Saturday I got to meet Cecilia. She used to work in North Carolina’s tobacco fields, but that left her with health problems. A mother of five children, now she’s struggling to make ends meet. So when she heard about the Building Hope Project, which partners volunteer groups with community members to build chicken coops, she was excited.
The Building Hope Project is a collaborative effort led by the Farmworker Ministry Committee of the NC Council of Churches and the award-winning nonprofit architecture organization DesignCorps. It’s a way to connect farmworker families with people in local congregations, building community by building coops together.
Saturday was a beautiful spring day, with clear blue skies and warm sunny weather – perfect for picking up a hammer, gathering around a table, and making new friends. A wonderful group of students affiliated with Alianza came out to help make this chicken coop a reality for Cecilia. Alianza is based at UNC Chapel Hill, where it engages students to improve the lives of farmworkers.
Why chickens? They are pretty easy to care for, and the eggs provide a steady source of protein for the family. Leftover eggs can be shared or sold, offering an economic development component to the project. Chicks can also be shared or sold to other families – starting the cycle all over again. Finally, for families who are interested in gardening, chicken manure is very good for the soil.
By the time the sun started setting, we were thrilled to hear the happy clucking of chickens in their new home. It seems so small, some wood and wire, a few birds and their eggs, but in Cecilia’s smile I know that we’ve made a difference.
-Chris Liu-Beers, Program Associate