Americas

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Food Friday: Mexico’s Chile en Nogada

By Meg Carter, ChildFund Sponsorship Communications Specialist

Chile en Nogada is a seasonal dish celebrating the walnut and pomegranate harvests. The Spanish word for walnut is nogal, and this is a chile relleno topped with walnut sauce. This popular dish also is eaten on Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), as it contains the colors of the Mexican flag, red, white and green. There’s also a legend connecting the dish to the signing of the Treaty of Cordoba, which granted Mexico independence from Spain in 1821, so it’s a very patriotic dish to eat.

 

Chile en Nogada

Chile en Nogada. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups walnuts

12 poblano chiles

1 cup unsalted butter

2 yellow onions, diced

4 peaches, diced

2 green apples, peeled and chopped

2 plantains, peeled and chopped

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup citron preserves, chopped

4 cups pork, cooked and shredded

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

Sea salt, to taste

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 large pomegranate

1 cup cream

¼ pound queso fresco

DIRECTIONS:

Soak walnuts in cold water for 3 hours, then drain and discard the liquid.

While the walnuts are soaking, wash and dry poblano chiles. In each chile, make a 1 ½” slit, lengthwise. Fry the chiles in small batches on medium-high heat, turning them until they puff up and turn olive in color. Peel them under cold water and gently remove the seeds through the slit, without tearing the flesh of the chile.

Melt unsalted butter in a skillet. Add onions and sauté until soft. Add peaches, green apples, plantains, raisins and citron preserves. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add pork and cinnamon. Add sea salt to taste. Spoon the mixture carefully into the chiles and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350o for 5 minutes.

Grind the walnuts in a blender, gradually adding cream, queso fresco and cinnamon. Cover the chiles with the walnut sauce and sprinkle parsley and pomegranate arils (fruited seeds) over the top.

Serves 12.

This month, ChildFund’s blog is celebrating the harvest and traditional foods of the countries where we work. On Fridays in October, we’ll share recipes. If you try one, take a picture of your dish and share it with us on our Facebook page

 

A Fresh Start

School is starting this week for many children in the United States. Children and youth in many of the 30 countries where ChildFund works have limited access to school, whether it’s because their families can’t afford to pay fees for uniforms, or the children are relied upon to fetch water or work to contribute to a family’s livelihood. Sponsorship helps many children attend school longer and have a better chance to break the generational cycle of poverty. Here are some pictures of students from communities where we work:

 

Kenya classroom

A classroom in Kenya.

 

girls going to school in Mexico

Girls going to school in Mexico.

 

Indian schoolgirls

On the way to school in rural Pimpalgaon, Pune, India.

 

mozambique

Parents help build a school for their children in Zavala, Mozambique. Photo by Jake Lyell.

 

Ecuador girl

A girl from Ecuador participates in after-school activities.

 

Vietnam school

Children at a Vietnamese primary school.

Banking on Garbage to Transform Communities

By Sagita Adesywi, ChildFund Indonesia

“People here littered everywhere, without thought,” says Sulastri, a preschool teacher in Indonesia. “Our neighborhood looked dirty and unhealthy.”

As in many developing countries, garbage is a highly visible part of Indonesia’s landscape. With one of the world’s largest populations, waste management there is an ongoing challenge, even in affluent areas. In neighborhoods where poverty has a stronghold, public services like garbage removal are at best inconsistent and often absent. So, families dispose of garbage wherever they can or even burn it by the roadside. The environment becomes not only unpleasant but downright dangerous.

This was how things were in Tandang village, Semarang, Central Java, until community members set out to make changes.

Responding to residents’ concern about their neighborhood, ChildFund worked through its local partner organization in Semarang, KOMPASS, to adapt an initiative that Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment had pioneered in other cities: garbage banks, which encourage communities to make the most of household garbage.

sorting garbage

Sulastri (right) sorts through plastic waste at the garbage bank.

Garbage banks decrease environmental pollution, especially inorganic waste, by providing community members with incentives to sort garbage by type and value, and to ensure that each type arrives at the appropriate destination for recycling. (Organic garbage is collected by the environmental city services and processed into compost.) Garbage banks usually run in public buildings as neighborhood centers for waste management.

To launch the program in Tandang, staff from KOMPASS met with village heads and community members to introduce the concept and then to form volunteer garbage bank committees. Through KOMPASS, ChildFund provided the volunteers with training on how to handle and process inorganic waste, especially plastics, which are sold to plastics manufacturers.

Participants have garbage bank accounts. KOMPASS provided seed money on behalf of the 351 sponsored children in the area, so each child has USD $1 as his or her first deposit on an account at one of Tandang’s two garbage banks.

So, how do garbage banks work?

Using collection bags provided by the program, people bring plastic bottles, used newspapers and many other things they don’t use any more. Each type of waste is assigned monetary value. This money is then deposited into the individuals’ accounts at the garbage bank, later available to be withdrawn as cash.

“When we did our first training for the mothers’ groups, some of them were quite stressed,” says Agus, the head of one of the banks. “They thought they would need to sort the garbage in a dirty place. When they saw that the garbage bank is actually run in a clean house with windows for air circulation, they felt relieved.”

“I knew about the garbage bank from my wife,” says Wadi, a community member. “We used to just throw away anything. Now, we learn to sort it all. People also took initiative by making their own bags to deposit the waste to the bank.”

Indonesia garbage bank

Wadi and his daughter sort garbage at home.

That’s not all they have made. The ChildFund-supported garbage banks have taken the program a step further: Community members turn garbage into creative, sellable products — for example, bags made from plastic detergent sachets. With training from KOMPASS (and with a sewing machine KOMPASS also provided), people are transforming garbage into economic gain. As community members have learned to be more creative in processing waste, they have come to see waste as a resource.

“The neighborhood automatically becomes cleaner too,” Agus adds. “If we have the garbage bank but the surroundings are still dirty, it’s very contradictory. The neighborhood is also becoming greener now, because people are also encouraged to plant trees in pots made from vegetable oil plastic bags. ChildFund provided us with the seeds.”

“People are more aware that the environment is very connected to their own health,” says preschool teacher Sulastri, who is also a member of the garbage bank committee. “They used to just litter everywhere and did not understand the impact of waste, so they would just throw away everything. Now they know that we can sort inorganic waste and make it into creative products.”

The garbage bank initiative not only brings extra cash, but it also helps communities become cleaner, nicer and healthier places to live, which is exactly what children need. “There were many flies and mosquitoes in the gutters as people just threw garbage into them,” says Sulastri. “When we litter, we create a breeding space for mosquitoes. The garbage bank promotes a healthy lifestyle, and it reduces the risk of dengue and diarrhea too.”

Antonio, a 10-year-old Translator

Antonio of Puebla, Mexico

Ten-year-old Antonio and his mother.

Reporting by ChildFund Mexico

One day, Antonio felt terrible, suffering stomach pain. He needed to go to the hospital, about a four-hour drive from his home village, Huehuetla, in Mexico’s Puebla state.

It turned out the problem was appendicitis, and despite the long trip, Antonio’s operation was successful. He was able to get to the hospital with the help of ChildFund Mexico, in which he’s been enrolled since he was 2, and the support of his sponsor. Antonio is known for his smile, his good grades and his teaching skills. Yes, even at 10, he’s a teacher.

Antonio speaks two languages — Spanish and Totonaco, his community’s language.

His gift is being a translator for his mother and grandmother, especially when they need to go to the doctor.

Antonio knows that his family members, who speak only Totonaco, have a hard time communicating with Spanish-speaking doctors. So when he accompanies his mother and grandmother to clinics, Antonio is able to tell them what the doctor is saying and respond to the doctor in Spanish.

He also teaches Spanish and Totonaco in the community.

He starts the Totonaco class for children by saying:

“Tlen.” (Hello.)

“Pastakgasinil.” (Thank you.)

Antonio’s family is poor, but they have better access to health care and nutritious food through ChildFund and the local partner organization. In return, the family members volunteer their time and skills to help others.

Antonio says that he wants to major in math in college, and he dreams about owning a store, earning money to help his family.

He adds: “Hasta chale,” goodbye in Totonaco.

Read our story from Saturday about the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Celebrating Bolivia’s Indigenous Cultures

Bolivian children

Bolivian children, enrolled in ChildFund’s programs, wear woven cloth made in their community.

By Meg Carter, Sponsorship Communication Specialist

Every continent is home to languages, cultures, histories and beliefs dating to pre-colonial times, which we often place under the umbrella of “indigenous cultures.” In many countries, indigenous populations fall into conflict with rulling governments and majority populations, and other times, their languages and traditions gradually disappear through assimilation. Poverty and isolation are other common challenges.

Aug. 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day to recognize and honor these ancient cultures. Let’s take a look at Bolivia, one of the countries where ChildFund works. The Quechua and Aymara proudly trace their origins to the Incan Empire. Nearly three out of four Bolivians belong to one of 37 native peoples. The country’s population speaks 42 languages, and two extinct languages also have been discovered.

Bolivian mother and child

A Bolivian mother and baby.

Many of Bolivia’s indigenous groups believe in reciprocity, particularly in nature. According to their traditions, when people fail to live in harmony with their environment, their bodies weaken, their spiritual well-being decreases, and the crops they depend on start to fail. The country’s diversity extends to its crafts, music and cuisine.

Bolivian women weave cloth by hand on wooden looms, using hand-spun and hand-dyed fibers. They produce rugged cloth in distinctive colors with wild cotton, twisted together with agave or wool from the family’s herd of alpaca, llama or other animals.

Some regional textile patterns date back more than 1,000 years, featuring Incan designs. Images of stone carvings at temples grace everyday apparel: ponchos, bolsas and bolsitas (large and small drawstring bags), chumpi or ch’uspa (hand-woven belts or bags), unku (tunics), monedero (purses), and ch’ullo (knitted caps).

In the evenings, people play flutes fashioned from aquatic reeds, creating a fusion of Incan chants and Spanish dance tunes. Traditional musicians favor pan pipes and quena (a flute with notched ends), accompanied by the charango, a small, 10-stringed instrument resembling a ukulele.

Along with corn, potatoes and beans, quinoa — a grain rich in vitamins and minerals — forms the basis of Bolivia’s indigenous diets. Known as the lost crop of the Incas, quinoa is traditionally prepared in soups, stews, sweet or savory fritters and spiced drinks.

Below is a simple recipe for p’isque, the Quechuan word for stew.

P’isque de Quinoa (serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)

1 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup julienned onion

1 cup peeled, chopped tomato

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup milk

1 cup soft mild cheese, shredded

4 eggs

Directions:

Combine water, broth and quinoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat about 15 minutes, until the liquid is completely absorbed.

In a separate pan, sauté onion in butter until soft, stir in chopped tomato and cumin and cook to a sauce. Reduce heat. Add quinoa and milk. Stir in cheese. When the stew reaches the boiling point again, add the eggs and continue stirring until fully cooked.

Serve with boiled potatoes and/or chunks of roasted chicken.

Planting, Harvesting, Eating in Brazil

community garden

Antônia, of the city of Francisco Badaró, state of Minas Gerais, in Brazil.

By Luza Marinho, ChildFund Brasil

Helping children grow up healthy and strong is a full-time job, and in Brazil, it means sowing the seeds for community gardens. ChildFund Brasil and its partner organizations are working with families in several communities to plant gardens and grow vegetables for everyone’s nourishment, especially children.

PROCAJ, one of ChildFund Brasil’s local partner organizations in the Jequitinhonha Valley, has 57 families participating in the project Planting, Harvesting, Eating. They grow vegetables for their households at the children’s community center, and the rest of the crops are sold, generating income for the families.

gardening in Brazil

“Today we ate freshly baked vegetables and helped in feeding the kids at school. They have vegetables on the table every day,” says Maria, 68.

For many mothers involved, the project goes beyond physical nourishment; Uca says she has seen her self-esteem grow stronger as well. “Before the garden, I took anti-depression medication,” she says. “Today I don’t need it.”

Maria adds that the community gardens have also changed to how the community sees the families: “We were discredited; they used to say that we didn’t like working, that we just liked to plead. PROCAJ gave us confidence, believed in our efforts and our willingness to grow and succeed in life.”

pineapple

Making a Mexican Dream Come True

Chucho and his bakery colleagues

Chucho (left) started the Nheki Bakery in his Mexican community.

By Esperanza Soto Aburto, ChildFund Mexico

At the age of 12, Jesus — or Chucho, as he’s known to friends — was part of the Organization Hñañhu Batsi, a community group in Mexico. He played soccer and was part of a team that won a regional tournament.

Today, as an adult, he has worked with teens who belong to the same organization, a local partner with ChildFund Mexico.

“I was looking for the kids to bring out their character, and teaching them teamwork,” Chucho says. But it was also important for him to open a business, making good on what he calls his “Mexican Dream,” which has special significance since he immigrated to the United States when he was 15, returning later.

With other young people in his community, Chucho began to figure out what the needs of the community were, and there were no bakeries.

That’s how the Nheki Bakery was born; nheki means “me too” in Chucho’s native language, Hñañhu.

“At first I wanted to name the bakery ‘I undertake,’ ” Chucho says, “but there is no translation of this word to Hñañhu, so I named it Nheki: ‘I want, I can, me too!’ ”

They started making doughnuts, biscuits, bread, buns and other pastries, sweetening them with agave honey produced in the community. The yeast and jams also are made locally.

The bakery has been open for almost a year, and Chucho and his colleagues are considering opening more bakeries in the region. ChildFund Mexico is now a trading partner, buying bread from the Nheki Bakery for children enrolled in the Early Childhood Development programs. Chucho realized that there is work to do in his community, and with a lot of effort and sweat, there’s always a chance to create opportunities.

Dominica Launches National Effort to Curb Sex Abuse

Dominica faces a sex abuse crisis, but its government is working with NGOs and communities.

By Gelina Fontaine, ChildFund Caribbean Program Manager

In Dominica, everyone is affected by child sexual abuse in some way. With a population of just 73,000 people, the Caribbean island saw more than 700 reports of abuse between 2009 and June 2014. That’s one in every 104 people.

If there isn’t a case of abuse within his or her immediate family, a Dominican resident — child or adult — likely has a friend, a cousin or a neighbor who has experienced it. That’s why the island’s national government, along with entities like ChildFund, is taking action to stem the tide of abuse, which most often takes the form of incest or sexual exploitation of boys.

In June, ChildFund and other nonprofit organizations created the 13-member Dominica NGO Coalition for the Protection of Children and Youth. Members include the National Council of Women, the Caribbean Male Action Network, the National Youth Council, the Dominica Association of Disabled Persons and others.

ChildFund currently serves as its secretariat and has funded the establishment of the coalition and its advocacy efforts. The coalition’s vision is for a Dominica where children and youth are free from all forms of violence, which reflects ChildFund Alliance’s global campaign to include this goal on the United Nations’ Post-2015 Agenda.

Every two weeks, the NGO Coalition meets to discuss incidents of child sexual abuse and updates on earlier cases, calling on the police, Dominica’s Ministry of Social Services and the Social Welfare Division, medical personnel and concerned families to make sure that survivors are able to receive the support they need, particularly when they pursue justice.

Meanwhile, ChildFund has worked with communities to address another side of this serious problem, with the Shine a Light project, which focuses on ways to prevent gender-based violence. In addition to other programs, we are working with boys and young men so they’ll make healthy choices while showing respect toward their female peers.

ChildFund Caribbean also has worked to make communities aware of the huge presence of abuse through radio, TV, print and online media — as well as on a grassroots level, promoting weekly conversations among children, youth, parents and other community members. These meetings give participants a chance to discuss the effects of abuse and possible solutions.

In coming weeks and months, coalition members will advocate for critical reforms needed in the legal system, child care institutions, mandatory reporting requirements and other protective measures.

A Family Coping With Disabilities

By Veronica Travez, ChildFund Ecuador

Daniela, mother Jessica and brother Pedro

Daniela, mother Jessica and brother Pedro, in their homeland of Ecuador.

Daniela is 15 years old, and she and her two brothers are albino. Albinism is a rare genetic condition characterized by the absence or reduction of melanin in the skin, eyes and/or hair.

Daniela’s family lives in the northwestern area of the province of Pichincha in Ecuador, a region that’s subtropical and humid. Her home is made of wood, which helps protect the family from high temperatures, humidity and insects.

Vicente, her father, is a farmer, and Jessica, her mother, is a seamstress. With the help of Daniela’s sponsor, Susan, the family was able to obtain a loan to buy sewing machines and have installed a textile workshop in their home. This business allows them to share quality time with their children while supporting them financially.

Albinism causes difficulties for Daniela and her brothers. Because melanin is necessary for the development of the eyes, the siblings have experienced problems with their vision. However, Daniela’s sponsor has sent money that covers vision treatment, so the siblings’ sight has improved.

“Thanks to the support of my sponsor, I have excelled economically, in my health and in my studies,” Daniela says, “and I was able to be trained as a young leader.”

Daniela also participates in a ChildFund-supported community program for school-aged girls and boys, where they receive social and financial education, as well as learning about their rights, responsibilities, self-esteem, saving money and frugal spending.

Jessica is a trainer in the program, and she notes that she too has learned a lot throughout the process. “I have met new friends; I learned to respect and care for my peers with disabilities. At school we performed a skit about people with disabilities, teaching children not to discriminate against them. 

Soccer Fever Strikes

Brasil soccer

A photo taken by Marlon, a boy enrolled in ChildFund Brasil’s Photovoice program, shows neighborhood boys playing soccer. Are you watching the World Cup games from Rio de Janeiro?

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