As part of the intercultural education program, Alianza Arkana is working with the mothers of students to create healthy, nutritious dishes from crops grown at the school. These cooking and nutrition workshops have become more and more popular in the community with a growing number of participants and the recipes used have been successfully accepted by the women. Currently, more than half of the women participating have planted different vegetables in their family plots that have been used to cook in the workshops. The rest of the plots are scheduled to be planted in the coming weeks.
On Monday, October 7th, Alianza Arkana´s nutritionist, Mariana Orta, together with the participants, organized a demonstration in order to present the very important nutrition topics they have learned throughout the course. This was seen as a key way to reinforce their learning. Amongst the audience was the Director of Intercultural Education of Alianza Arkana, Dr. Paul Roberts, the Director of the US-based NGO Shipibo Joi, Mershona Parshall, a German midwife, Nine Uhlich, who works jointly with Alianza Arkana and Shipibo Joi on a project for training Shipibo midwives, foreign guests interested in learning more about the project and 2 Shipibo women from another community also interested in learning more about nutrition.
For Shipibo women, this type of demonstration activity is not common, as they are not used to speaking in public. At first they were a little nervous, yet the presentation was very successful - each one presented her theme wonderfully and they were all satisfied and happy after the presentation.
The event not only consisted in an oral presentation, but the mothers chose a traditional Shipibo-improved recipe to share with the visitors: mazamorra de doncella (fish soup). The traditional way of preparing this dish consists of grating plantain to form a puree, boiled with fish and some onion and cilantro. When cooked, the fish falls apart and the result is a delicious thick soup. However, in the improved version, other ingredients are added (more vegetables) to increase not only the taste but the nutritional quality of the dish, having at the end a tasty soup that has more nutritious ingredients such as onion, tomato, sweet pepper, garlic, coriander and ginger. This exemplifies the typical way that this project has worked, starting with traditional recipes and amending them in small but important ways to include a higher nutritional content.
All visitors and participants enjoyed the delicious lunch, typically accompanied by plantains. The mothers were very proud of their presentation and their succulent dish, especially as the visitors left with a great impression of both the presentation and the food. One of the 2 Shipibo women who was there, commented that: "This version of mazamorra was scrumptious, and I am proud to see that these projects are carried out, since the traditional Shipibo cuisine, despite being very natural, does not include fresh vegetables."
This project has now reached the final stage of its first phase: teaching about the importance of nutrition; creating a cookbook for each of the participants with improved dishes that can be easily replicated; and planting vegetables in the homes of each of the participants. The next phase is integrated with another important education project Alianza Arkana has in the community of Puerto Firmeza, in which the community has donated to the school five hectares of land that have been planted with different crops in order to eventually provide school meals to students. The mothers who participated in the Cooking and Nutrition workshops will be responsible for coordinating the school lunch program through a seasonal menu of available food crops. The ultimate goal is that students have access to a healthy breakfast and lunch at least three times a week.
Many thanks to our supporters, especially our regular donors, who have continued to contribute monthly donations since out first fund raising campaign last year.
This money has enabled us in the last three months to start a significant new project at the intercultural rural school in the Indigenous Shipibo community of Puerto Firmeza called “Grow & Cook”. This project is led by the nutritionist working full time with Alianza Arkana and has been made possible by the donations enabling us to build a traditional Shipibo model kitchen within the school grounds and to provide some of the food for the workshops.
This project is important because:
The next stage of this project will be to run workshops for the mothers who are attending the cooking/nutrition classes on how to cultivate their own family orchards to guarantee a supply of healthy food for their families.
Another important development of the project in the last three months has been to clear an area to cultivate corn, which will provide food for the chickens that are being reared at the school. Over time, we hope to provide nutritious meals for the students at the school based on eggs and meat from the chickens, fish from the fish farm (which we plan to complete by the end of the year) and the fruit and vegetables, which are being cultivated in the school grounds.
We are continuing to make good progress in creating a new model for intercultural education at this pilot school project known as “Soi Sani” of 120 students in the indigenous Shipibo community of Puerto Firmeza in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have been able to advance on four significant fronts in the last few months:
This new model of education is important as it combines the practical teaching of traditional agricultural practices based on permaculture principles with the Peruvian State education curriculum. By doing this, we are developing an innovative model of “productive education”. Additionally, the children will receive classes about the arts and crafts of their own culture and its cosmovision.
Many thanks to our donors who are enabling us to continue this important work, which helps preserve and strengthen a unique indigenous culture as well as help create food security and diminish malnutrition by developing the capacity of the students and their parents to grow their own nutritious food. And especial thanks to the donors who give monthly as this is invaluable in helping us plan ahead.
Many thanks to all our supporters who have generously donated via Global Giving. In total we have now raised $9,725 through this campaign.
This money has enabled us to do the following:
Further donations will be used to:
On September 20th, Alianza Arkana and the indigenous community of Puerto Firmeza held their first minga (community work day) to begin the construction of the school´s fish farm, an important next step towards creating a productive and intercultural education in the community. The fish farm will not only provide a nutrient rich food source for the children, but students will also learn how to maintain and take care of a fish farm as well as traditional skills of fishing using bows and arrows. The construction of the fish farm is made possible by our supporters, who just helped us raise nearly $10,000 in a recent fundraising effort, through Global Giving.
Alianza Arkana has been working with Puerto Firmeza since the beginning of 2011 to create a fully functioning new model of intercultural and ¨productive¨education, in which Shipibo students are not only provided a high-quality Western education, but also learn about their culture and cosmovision, as well as being directly involved in food production as part of their education.
The production of healthy food is extremely important, as a significant number of students suffer from malnourishment, as a result of environmental degradation in the community primarily caused by overfishing, illegal logging, and slash and burn agriculture. Children arrive to school in the morning not having eaten and therefore cannot concentrate in their classes. The ultimate aim of the school is to offer every student a breakfast and lunch every day.
Throughout 2011 and this year, Alianza Arkana has been helping build the basic infrastructure for the provision of food to the school based on permaculture principles. Traditional food crops and fruit trees have been planted, and recently, with the help of the local community, a chicken farm has been established.
In combination with the fruits and vegetables now planted, the chickens and eggs that will be ready by the middle of next year, the fish farm will provide an important source of food for the school students of high nutritional value.
The minga was attended by 50 adults and 30 older studnts. A series of 5 more mingas will be held during the next weeks to implement the basic infrastructure of the fish farm so that when the rainy season begins in Novemer, the land in front of the dam will fill with water to form a lake.
Once the dam is built and the area filled with water, 15,000 small fish called boca chica (literally translated "small mouth") will be introduced into the newly created lake. These will grow in size to reach nearly one kilogram each, until they are ready to be harvested in October 2013. Fruit trees that have been planted and other trees that already exist in the area will provide the food for the fish.
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