Feb 11, 2015

Empowering Through Self-Reliance: Your Donations at Work

Kevin & His Classmate Pick Nutritious Vegetables
Kevin & His Classmate Pick Nutritious Vegetables

In our last update, we introduced you to Kevin, a 12 year old boy from Nazacota Puento School in the community of San Pedro in Cotacachi, Ecuador, who has been a beneficiary of the generous contributions of Feed The World donors. Kevin and his fellow classmates have received education, training, and mentoring in life-changing skills that may impact  their future for generations to come. The skills taught by our staff are based on the five areas the Feed The World Model of small-scale agriculture, namely: Nutrition & Hygiene, Sequential Gardens, Field Crops, Small Livestock, and Economic Independence.  

In developing areas such as the rural community where Kevin lives, malnutrition and poor hygiene are two of the main causes of sickness and death, particularly affecting the growth and development of children. By teaching students and their families the importance of proper nutrition and good hygiene, many of these illnesses are decreased as children enjoy better growth and improved educational performance.

As our school children and their parents begin to understand how critical proper hygiene and good nutrition is for their families, and as they concentrate their efforts on following Feed The World’s program, the life of each family is improved drastically, creating a large impact on the community. Currently the students and families at Nazacota Puento and Eduardo Jaramillo schools are progressing well through Feed The World’s mentoring program, increasing their knowledge and skills in the following areas:

Improving Nutrition Through Sequential Gardening

By focusing on nutrition first, Feed The World staff emphasizes how critical it is that the families go to the extra effort of raising a variety of vegetables for their daily food consumption. The students and their families learn how important it is to eat a complete and balanced diet rather than planting and consuming only one crop as many of them had done previous to the program. They are taught about the nutritional benefits of the different food groups, and how to plant, grow, and harvest a variety of food from each.

As families plant, care for, and harvest their sequential gardens, most of the vitamins and minerals that they need for their diets are provided to their bodies. The sequential garden technique includes planting a variety of plants in a rotational sequence, spacing the plantings to provide continual harvest throughout the year. This process maximizes the productivity of a small garden space, and prevents soil depletion and plant disease.

One important thing students and their families learn is the value of organic material in providing rich nutrients for their gardens. Parents and children are taught to make their own compost by digging a hole in which to put all plant material, including leftover crop stalks, weeds, kitchen scraps, and unusable parts of vegetables from the garden. In this natural process, the organic material is piled and processed over a period of several months to turn it into a very powerful natural fertilizer. The compost is tilled into the garden bed, providing a rich soil in which to grow vegetables successfully.

Empowering Individuals Through Dignity and Self-Reliance

When Feed The World begins teaching families through our program, we strive to implement our foundational principles of self-reliance. Our goal is to never simply give stuff away to the families, but to allow them personal dignity as they work for what they receive. We encourage our families to “pay it forward” to others in their communities by teaching and mentoring neighbors and friends. Feed The World invests in our children and families, and in turn, the families invest in their communities creating an empowering domino effect.  

For example, as the families prepare to plant their sequential gardens, we provide seeds in exchange for certain required participation tasks. They are asked to build and protect their garden space by fencing off an area for their garden, effectively protecting the plants from stray animals and pests. The families are taught how to prepare raised garden beds, which provide access for easy weeding and walking between garden areas. They are also required to fill the beds with a good combination of organic matter, manure, compost, and soil to have the best yield possible. After all this work has been completed, families are provided with seeds for their gardens.

Increasing Health by Teaching Safe Food Preparation and Storage

A nutritionist helps the students and their families learn how to combine new foods with familiar foods into delicious recipes, using spices common to their culture. As families participate in hands-on demonstrations, they learn how to make the food properly so they can duplicate the recipes at home. Families are encouraged to add one new food at a time, helping them become gradually accustomed to unfamiliar healthy foods while they develop a taste for it.

Families are taught that a healthy kitchen equals healthy food. No matter how nutritious the food, it needs to be properly prepared in an orderly and clean kitchen in order to assure it’s healthfulness. Families are taught the importance of washing their hands before and after handling food, and are helped to create a place for washing in their kitchens. They are taught how to create a better cooking arrangement, making sure that smoke is diverted to the outside instead of smoking up the inside of the home. They also learn how to wash dishes correctly and immediately after every meal to eliminate bacterial growth.  

Learning to preserve and store food and water is another important skill that provides students and families with a way to achieve nutritional security year-round. Since they don’t have access to refrigeration in their homes, the families in the Cotacachi area are taught how to dehydrate their food before storing it.  

Feed The World staff teachers our families about the proper conditions needed for food storage, including temperature, security, containers, humidity, and cleanliness. They also learn how to obtain clean water and store it properly for protection against drought. With enough food and water stored properly, families are prepared for emergencies and other life challenges as they become more self-sufficient.

Your Donations Create a Lasting Impact - THANK YOU!

Thanks to your generous donations, the school students, teachers & families in the Cotacachi region of Ecuador are learning how to take care of themselves through classes and hands-on demonstrations that will make a lasting impact on the rest of their lives. An educational program that is designed to build and empower people in this way, rather than simply giving stuff away, is somewhat unique among charitable organizations. Feed The World believes that while providing immediate relief has its place in dire situations, lasting change can only be achieved by empowering people with the education, skills, and confidence to succeed over the long term.

Through participation in Feed The World’s self-reliance-based program, the families are taught how to develop their own solutions, learn from the experience of others, and create their own success. With each successive step through the program, they learn important life-sustaining skills and develop a buffer between themselves and starvation. This new lifestyle is the key to freedom from poverty for a lifetime, which in turn creates lasting change for generations to come.

Thriving Garden For Teaching & Mentoring Students
Thriving Garden For Teaching & Mentoring Students
Kevin & His Classmate Work Hard in the Gardens
Kevin & His Classmate Work Hard in the Gardens
Kevin's Family and Neighbors Collect Their Harvest
Kevin's Family and Neighbors Collect Their Harvest
Families Learn Gardening Techniques
Families Learn Gardening Techniques
Woman Happily Harvests A Bounteous Crop
Woman Happily Harvests A Bounteous Crop

Links:

Nov 12, 2014

Meet Kevin - A Beneficiary of Your Donation!

Kevin - Grateful Student from San Pedro Peru
Kevin - Grateful Student from San Pedro Peru

Kevin is 12 years old and attends Nazacota Puento School in the community of San Pedro in Cotacachi, Ecuador. He is the oldest child in his family, and lives with his mother, 3 younger siblings, his grandparents, and two elderly uncles. Kevin’s mother, Maria, is the sole breadwinner for her family, making handicrafts to sell and planting corn for food in a small field located near her house. Though she works very hard, she has had difficulty providing basic necessities for the large family that is dependent on her.

Before Feed The World became involved with his school, Kevin had a meager diet lacking in nutrients. He was not able to eat breakfast before school, and his academic performance was suffering. At 11 years old, Kevin was only 4’2” tall and weighed 69 pounds – a height and weight well below the average of 4’6” and 77 pounds. Kevin is not alone – he attends this school with 147 other children aged 3 to 16 years old – and over 60% of them suffer from similar signs of malnutrition.

How Your Donation is Helping

Thanks to the generous support of Feed The World donors in conjunction with our Global Giving Campaign, Kevin and his classmates have been able to participate in a school gardening program at Nazacota Puento School. This program is based on the Feed The World Model, which educates participants in Nutrition and Hygiene, Sequential Gardens, Field Crops, Small Livestock, and Economic Independence. Through participation in this program, students and their families learn how to take care of themselves nutritionally and financially, and gain important skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Nutrition and Hygiene Classes

The Feed the World staff has been teaching the students and their families important hygiene practices to keep themselves free from diseases common to their location. They have also taught the students about nutrition, helping them to understand the health benefits of the variety of vegetables they are growing in their school gardens. For example, the children have learned that spinach is high in iron, which helps to carry the oxygen through their blood so they can run faster and be stronger.

Sequential Gardens

For the first time ever, Kevin and his classmates have had the opportunity to learn how to prepare soil for planting, growing, and harvesting nutritious vegetables in school and home gardens. The school staff has been taught how to incorporate these vegetables into the lunch program, giving the children a much improved diet, packed with important nutrients and vitamins. Better food helps the student's cognitive abilities so they can perform well in school and gain the education critical to a successful future.

Parents are encouraged to participate with their students in this program, and Kevin’s family has helped to plant vegetables and build structures at the school. In fact, many of the families are so excited about what they have learned that they have begun planting gardens at home as well. Feed The World technicians help by providing seeds and answering questions they have about the challenges of growing gardens for the first time. The families are encouraged to teach their neighbors and friends, benefitting the entire community of San Pedro.

Field Crops, Small Livestock, & Economic Independence

With the help of Feed the World staff, the students and their families have begun preparations for raising cuyes (guinea pigs), a common source of animal protein in their culture. They have built housing structures for the animals, and have planted alfalfa on the school property to use for animal feed. By learning to raise small animals such as guinea pigs, the children and their families are taught another great way to improve their diets and develop skills for future employment opportunities. These important skills will help them today, tomorrow, and for the rest of their lives. They now have the education and mentoring to become self-reliant and never face hunger again.

A Huge Thank You!

There is no better way to understand the impact of your donations than to hear from the children themselves. Here is a letter that Kevin wrote to our Feed The World donors with his own pen (see attached photo):

My name is Kevin, my mother´s name is Ana Maria. I have three siblings, Yarina, Emily and Kilan. I study in Nazacota Puento School.  I am happy with the help of the foundation SRA [Feed The World], that is implementing the school gardens and the housing for guinea pigs. This will help to improve the nutrition of all my classmates and improve our school performance. I hope that you continue to help us to grow healthy and learn better. ~ Thank you, Kevin

Feed The World thanks you for partnering with us to help teach self-reliance to these promising students. With a school program focused on sustainable farming, the children at Nazacota Puento School in Cotacachi Ecuador are learning how to provide proper nutrition for themselves and their families today and in the future. Thank you for helping us to make a lasting impact for the families of rural Ecuador and throughout the world.

Parents Learning About Gardening at Demo Farm
Parents Learning About Gardening at Demo Farm
Kevin & His Classmates at Nazacota Puento School
Kevin & His Classmates at Nazacota Puento School
FTW Executive Team at the School Gardens
FTW Executive Team at the School Gardens
Garden Seed Packets for Distribution to Classes
Garden Seed Packets for Distribution to Classes
A Huge Thank You to FTW Donors from Kevin!
A Huge Thank You to FTW Donors from Kevin!
Aug 14, 2014

Changes and program starting in school

Student taking class at demo farm
Student taking class at demo farm

Here is an update for our School gardening program. Students at Nazacota Purento have taken classes and a tour at our Demo farm where they have learned how to apply successful gardening principles. They were excited with what they saw and they were anxious to get started in their own lot at the school. The families of the students donated their time to prepare the soil for the gardens and we have now started planting the gardens in the school. See pictures. 

With the first gardens being implemented, we will start teaching the families how to harvest the crops necessary to have enough for them and then enough for chickens and guinea pigs. We will start teaching families how to take care of the animals and once the harvest comes in, we will begin to add animals to the school project.

With San Jacinto, we will be making a change. A new law that just came into effect will do away with many of the smaller local schools and move the kids into larger regional schools in the hope of saving resources and teachers. Due to this new law, San Jacinto will be closed. We have halted our work there and once the new school systems are in place, we will look for another school that has enough land to implement the garden program and we will be starting a new program there.  We will keep everyone up to date on the next report!

Starting to plant at the school
Starting to plant at the school
Future food for classes
Future food for classes
Parents learning alongside the students
Parents learning alongside the students
The beneficiaries of our program
The beneficiaries of our program
Starting construction of Guinea pig pens
Starting construction of Guinea pig pens

Links:

 
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