Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Evelyn Farris Raines Vanilla Extract

I recently had the most wonderful opportunity to spend time with Evelyn Farris Raines through a work project that truly opened my eyes to a world beyond the boundaries of my small life.  

Evelyn has devoted her life to the earth and it's people.  Her life is split, as she says, between the sandy soil of Uganda where she has spent over 3 decades improving agriculture, educating the Iteso people of a town called Soroti how to effectively and efficiently use the soil to produce not only food, but also to create an economy around what they are able to grow.
Her work is tiresome and exhausting, though you would never know it by her unyielding sense to do more, try harder, find more needs to fill.  In her words, "I want the poor in Uganda to have access to more of the earth’s resources: land and water, and food production methods that do not degrade the land or water or people. I want village farmers to experience financial success and independence so they can provide for their children’s school fees and health care needs. I want them to have an education that encourages creative problem solving & critical thinking, and government officials who serve the people rather than squander international aid money and the many natural resources of Uganda."
The other half of her life is spent in her Hillsboro West End Neighborhood as an "urban farmer" selling her herbs and flowers to local markets, planting trees in her community and hosting garden and chicken coop tours in her back yard.  
Through her work in our local community and through her efforts in Africa, she brings her passion for bettering the lives of others with her.  She teaches all of us that small acts can lead to great rewards, people acting together for the greater good can have an enormous impact of the future.

Her work is not limited to agriculture.  She sees a need and almost simulataneously sees a sultions.  When a she took her daughters to Soroti for the first time, they went to school with the local children and she realized in a class of over 120 students, with one teacher, a single blackboard and no desk, there was a need.  The children were sitting on concrete floors.  They needed a better place to learn, to grow.  
In the workshop her father had helped found, Hands In Service, they built desks from local materials and need was filled.  Small acts of kindness can lead to the education of our future.
Her work has inspired me to see beyond my front yard, to look past my own garden to the potential of other's.  She is truly an incredible lady who embodies grace, kindness, and love and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her even if for just a little while.
Evelyn sales her homemade vanilla extract at Kore in Edgehill Village from ingredients she brings back from her trips to Uganda.
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  1. She is absolutely amazing. I got to visit their projects in Uganda and it's amazing what they have done for that region of the country that was tormented by war for decades and it's insanely dry up there. But it's very beautiful and it's always great to see her interact with the people. Her whole family is just awesome.

  2. What is Evelyn’s contacts in Uganda? I would like to join in working with her to help.