By Martin Nanawa, ChildFund Philippines
Rosemary was sure she knew how to raise her children in a healthy way. She knew to feed them good food, and she knew to work hard so she could feed her five children well. When she could afford it, she would put meat on the table. “Rich children have meat all the time, and none of them are malnourished,” she believed.
Like many mothers in the Philippines, Rosemary thought expensive food was nutritious for her children. That’s why, as a washerwoman, she would accept as many wash loads as she could. But hand-washing laundry from neighbors in a largely low-income community doesn’t yield Rosemary much profit, and often, she found herself barely able to put food on the table, much less the variety that she believed was good for her children.
ChildFund established a “Supervised Neighborhood Play” (SNP) site in her community in 2011, which taught community members about early childhood development — emphasizing nutrition, activities and parenting methods that help infants and toddlers develop healthy cognitive, emotional, social and physical skills. In Rosemary’s village, her sister’s front porch was the SNP center. She did not need much convincing to enroll her youngest three children.
But her excitement about this opportunity soon turned to shock when she learned that her children were malnourished. All three were underweight, Rosemary discovered at a weight and growth monitoring session.
But Rosemary’s anxious questions were answered by the SNP volunteers, who were trained by ChildFund. She learned that she didn’t need to attempt to feed her children food that she couldn’t afford. In fact, the most nutritious food she could give her children was relatively inexpensive and widely available: moringa leaves, okra, squash, water spinach and string beans. These vegetables easily grow in the Philippines and are the prime ingredients or additives in many simple dishes.
Rosemary was thrilled to have this information.
“I was excited to try the nutritious dishes I learned to prepare at SNP parenting sessions,” she says. And instead of buying vegetables at the market, the SNP program helped her start her own backyard vegetable plot by providing her with the seedlings she needed. Meanwhile, her children were also given vitamin supplements to hasten their recovery. Growing her own vegetables helps Rosemary defray food expenses, allowing her to better support her elder two sons in school.
Enrolling her children in home-based ECD services has proved pivotal to Rosemary’s family.
“My children are learning, and staying healthy,” she says. “I’m excited to see them growing taller.”
As our blog series visits Mexico today, one of our staff members tells the story of how one woman never gave up on sponsoring a child.
By Adriana Villarreal Bernal
I’ve always been told that in order to transcend or to make your life worthwhile you have to plant a tree, write a book or give life to a baby. I’ve worked for four years for ChildFund and I have realized that life is meaningful even if you haven’t done any of those three.
Let me share with you a story:
I recently went to a workshop to share ChildFund International’s work in Mexico. A woman participating at the workshop decided to sponsor a boy. After two weeks, the boy’s family decided to move to the United States hoping for better opportunities.
Still wanting to show her support to the organization, the woman then asked to sponsor another boy. Again, after two weeks, the boy’s family decided to move to the United States looking for more options in life.
I couldn’t believe it! The woman was terribly disappointed, but I persuaded her to sponsor another child. This time she sponsored a girl.
This girl had the exact same name as the woman’s daughter, who had passed away three months before. The woman took that as a sign to do more than sponsor a child. She decided to give her new sponsored girl the toys, the computer and all of the things that had belonged to her own daughter, as well as the money the family had saved for her college education.
These events moved me deeply, which made me think that life works in mysterious ways. You never know how or when you will be someone else’s life-changing opportunity.
For more information on our work in Mexico, click here.
More on Mexico:
Population: 111.2 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 120,000 children and families
Did You Know?: At nearly 2,000 miles, the border between Mexico and the United States is the second-longest in the world. At No. 1 is the border between the United States and Canada.
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To spice things up a bit, we thought we’d share a classic recipe from Mexico that we published in a calendar nearly 20 years ago.
Tlayudas Con Aciento
The tlayuda is simply an oversize tortilla. It is 12 inches in diameter. It resembles a tostada.
1 (or more) tlayudas
1 tbsp. aciento (bacon drippings)
Green or red hot sauce
Oaxaqueño cheese (Monterey Jack or any other you’d prefer)
Shredded lettuce or cabbage
Directions: Spread the tlayudas with the aciento, then with the refried beans. Then put on the hot sauce. Add melted or grated cheese. Heat in a greased pan on the top of your stove or grill. Top with lettuce or cabbage. Spanish rice can accompany the tlayudas.
What’s next: We pay a visit to Cambodia, ChildFund’s newest work site.