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.
Reporting by Patricia Toquica, Communications Manager, ChildFund Americas
In the Americas region, children, youth and adults in ChildFund-supported communities are joining hands to help break the cycle of poverty while working toward protecting and preserving a sustainable environment. Check out some of the exciting green projects that are under way from the U.S.A. to Brazil.
Sustainable Ag in the U.S.
The Wyan Toka Win community garden in South Dakota is a ChildFund U.S. program that involves children and youth in promoting sustainable agriculture and the consumption of fresh, natural products. Families in the community are taking surplus vegetables and fruits they raise in the garden and selling them at the local farmer’s market to generate additional income.
Innovative Farming, Water Use and Soil Conservation in Mexico
In Mexico’s Totonaca region, 450 families have learned innovative agricultural techniques and are putting the knowledge to work on their own farms. This program is supported by ChildFund México in partnership with the local bank, Compartamos Banco.
Nearly 9,000 people, especially women, in indigenous communities of Hidalgo, Mexico, are benefitting from ChildFund’s training programs to improve water usage, including proper collection and recycling techniques.
In many areas of Mexico’s Mixteca region, gradual erosion is negatively impacting the land. ChildFund works with children and youth to promote sustainable agriculture that will allow the production of healthy products without deteriorating soil fertility.
Family Gardens and Fruit Trees in Honduras
In Honduras, families in the Santa Barbara region work with ChildFund’s local partners to promote community-based agricultural production based on principles of sustainable development.
In the mountains of Honduras, children in ChildFund’s programs are receiving a hands-on education in environmental awareness by planting fruit trees that will benefit their communities. And as part of ChildFund’s Friendly Schools program, children in some areas of Honduras receive comprehensive environmental education and participate in practical projects such as maintaining school gardens.
Eco-volunteers and ‘Harvesting My Future’ in Guatemala
About 180 teenagers from urban areas of Guatemala are involved in ChildFund environmental protection projects. They participate in training workshops and propose practical solutions for environmental issues affecting their communities.
About 450 young people from 10 communities in Guatemala are benefitting from ChildFund’s “Harvesting my Future” project. Teenagers receive training in ecological production of sesame and maize crops that will provide income and a better future to their families.
Environmental Education and Youth Involvement in Bolivia
From early childhood, children in ChildFund Bolivia communities learn about the importance of water, soil and trees, thanks to ecological education programs and activities implemented by ChildFund-trained youth leaders.
About 200 families at the Lucerito Center in the city of Santa Cruz will benefit from ChildFund’s environmental training program focused on reducing and reusing waste to preserve the environment.
In LaPaz, children participating in ChildFund’s early childhood development programs engage with their mothers in activities to improve their motor skills using natural elements easily found in their communities such as seeds, fruits, grains, clay and water. These activities help kids connect and care for their natural resources from an early age.
Natural Resource Protection in Ecuador
In the Ecuadorian province of Tungurahua, children enrolled in ChildFund programs are participating in the “Futurahua” (Water Future) project. They are learning about the importance of water sustainability and its role in the production of crops that feed their families.
With the donation of more than 50,000 native plant species, ChildFund Ecuador is supporting reforestation plans developed by children and their parents in various communities living in poverty in Ecuador.
More than 300 families in various rural areas of Ecuador benefit from ChildFund training programs in sustainable agriculture. Community members are now working jointly to maintain water reservoirs and grow organic products in community gardens and orchards.
Water Conservation in Brazil
In Brazil’s Jequitinhonha Valley, ChildFund’s Water Watchers Program engages children and youth leaders in environmental education, contributing to the preservation and proper usage of water resources that are so scarce in this area.
ChildFund’s Water for Life Program in the rural semi-arid areas of Brazil has involved thousands of children and their families in adopting techniques for water conservation and socio-environmental sustainability. Through this program, ChildFund Brazil helps thousands of families in semi-arid areas learn about water collection and conservation to ensure adequate resources for household consumption and crop growth.