28 April 2011
We're in the middle of an intensive visit to Samara, Buzuluk, and Sorochinsk--all places associated with the massive British-American Quaker relief effort in this region during and after the great famine of 1921. It is humbling to realize that, in the welcome and help we've been given in place after place, we're continuing to reap the harvest of goodwill that resulted from those events of ninety years ago.
Yesterday we visited a large farm not far from Sorochinsk. At the farm's machine station, one of our hosts explained to the workers that the "ancestors" of the tractors they were working on were brought to the region as part of the American Friends' relief work. Tractors were not unknown in pre-revolutionary Russia, but in the Volga region, almost all tasks now associated with machinery were then done with animals. But the famine killed or weakened almost all the work horses--and bringing in tractors seemed the only way to keep agricultural work going.