Dec 22, 2017

Nutrition seminars and cooking competitions

In the last several months, Aldea Maya has been involved in some exciting seminars and competitions. We were asked to be part of a nutrition think tank. We were one of several NGO's to be involved in developing ideas to increase the nutritional status of indigenous Mayans. It was awesome to be included as we are definitely the little fish in the big sea.

Out of this seminar the local hospital decided to run a nutritional cooking competition and asked 7 NGO's to compete. We were given one day to get ready for this event. We had to develop and cook 4 recipes. The criteria was that the food had to be excellent for: a 6 month to 9 month child, a 9 month to one year old child, a one to 2 year old child and a pregnant woman.

Our infant meals all included chaya and our pregnant woman recipe was a delcious citrus, red pepper ,cilantro, onion avocado salsa which is high in Folic acid, an essential nutrient in the early days of pregnancy. We were the only group to put chaya in our meals. Not only did we win the competition but have now been asked to help develop a nutritional cook book with the hospital. 

Our little staff was beaming as we accepted our prize of 2 new large cooking pots.

Sep 27, 2017

Gardening nutrition, and cooking with the children

The students in the Chuk Muk elementary school have been actively involved in garden, cooking and nutrition classes. The grade 3, grade 4, grade 5 and grade 6 classes have been learning about making compost, starting seedling, planting seedlings, watering and harvesting. The students then take what they have harvested and prepare yummy, nutritious meals.

Traditionally this area does not eat many vegetables and has rampant malnutrition. The students are loving the cooking classes and eating food that is totally new to them.

Our next step will be seed collection. The students will then be able to take the vegetable seeds to plant at home. Changing people's eating patterns is not an easy process but this is the first step in producing positive change.

The students in grade 6 participated in a fun project where they learned all about chaya. The students then made their own teaching tools and became the chaya nutrition instructors to their own mothers. All participated in a cooking class and each family received a chaya plant to take home.

Making salad
Making salad
Growing seedlings
Growing seedlings
Harvesting
Harvesting
Planting
Planting
Students teaching nutrition classes to moms
Students teaching nutrition classes to moms
May 25, 2017

3 month report

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Over the last few months our office has been a hub of activity as  local Guatemalan women take part in nutrition and cooking classes on chaya.

These fun, informative nutrition classes are being taught by students graduating from high school this year, who have specialized in education.

By  teaching these 4 young ladies about nutrition we are not only training excellent instructors: they can then go on to apply for home economics positions at local middle schools thus expanding the project.

 

In the last few months over 40 families have participated in the chaya nutrition classes and prepared 3 different chaya menu items. Most of the women wanted to know when the next classes will be as they really enjoyed the experience.

 

Here is a mom adding chaya to maize, a staple in this area. Adding  chaya to  tortillas  greatly increases the levels of protein,  iron, calcium ,Vitamins A, B and C in the diet.

The new outdoor cooking area is amazing and allows more women to participate.

Here is our cooking coordinator, Maria, working in the indoor cooking area. She is demonstrating  rice and potato dishes with chaya. Several month ago Maria could only speak Tzu'tujil. She is now learning to speak Spanish and to read. This program has given her the motivation.

 

 

Chaya is a plant native to Mexico that is highly nutritious, tasty and can grow in the poor soil conditions in the village. Here Concepcion is showing the women chaya growing in our garden and explaining how to care for and propagate the plant.

 

 

Another aspect of the program is family gardens. These children are from a family  that took the chaya course. The banana plants in the background are from Aldea Maya's elementary school nutrition/garden program.

 This  new garden will soon be helping to feed this  family of 10.

 

We now have 2 garden employees monitoring projects and teaching classes.

Our partnership with Global Giving and generous donors like yourselves has enabled Aldea Maya to greatly expand its programs and should have a lasting, positive impact on the community of Chuk Muk.

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