Maria Martha Ordoñez, age 73, is the matriarch of a full house. Within her home are two sons, three daughters, and two grandchildren. Like many subsistence farmers in the rural Alto community, Maria planted corn on her modest parcel of land to feed her household.

That year, the rains came too late. Maria and her family tilled the soil, sowed the field, and prayed for rain. The days passed in an arid and cloudless blur. Every morning and every evening, the villagers of Alto peered into the sky, but there was nothing to see. The horizon gave no promises and yielded no hope.

The earth hardened, and the seeds shriveled and died. Maria barely had enough water to drink and cook, and none to spare for the corn. The grandchildren began to cry more, and Maria was heartbroken with helplessness. Her children all did what they could, but as subsistence farmers, they were equally helpless.

Then ADRA came into the community of Alto. Representatives toured the village and met with the families. One of those families was Maria’s. They saw the state of her land and of her family. They promised they would be back, but Maria was skeptical.

“A group of us had been going to the municipality to ask the mayor for help, but we received only promises and more promises,” Maria said. “Our family needed food, not just words.”

But the next day, ADRA returned to her home with enough food to last until the rains came.

“When they came and looked at our land and situation, I thought they would never come back,” Maria said. “But there they were, blessing my family and our people.”

The next day, rain soaked the dry earth, promising a yield in the near future for their second crop. For families like Maria’s, this provides them the opportunity to develop their own sustainable living while surviving on the food given them by ADRA.