Category Archives: Environment

Apr 10 2013

Learning about quinoa, a South American staple

Quinoa

CFCA families in Bolivia harvest quinoa and other crops to be able to feed their families.

By Emily Soetaert, CFCA correspondent

If you’re aware of healthy eating trends or are environmentally conscious, chances are you’ve heard of (and may have eaten) quinoa.

Pronounced “keen-WAH,” this South American grain has recently taken the western world by storm. Its unusual taste and high nutrition value (particularly in the protein area) give many a reason to love it.

What we may not know, however, is that increased demand for quinoa has created some unintended consequences.

Before quinoa’s spike in popularity, the crop could be purchased in Bolivia for less than $4 a pound. That price has more than doubled to $8 a pound.

Many South American families who previously relied on quinoa for daily nourishment can no longer afford to purchase it.

According to a column in The Guardian, for many people living in Peru and Bolivia, quinoa now costs more than chicken because of rising costs and overseas demands.

Adelio, who helps cultivate quinoa and is the father of a sponsored child, Pamela, in Bolivia, said quinoa is an important food in the local diet.

“Families in rural areas usually eat what they produce, and quinoa is part of their diets,” Adelio said. “Quinoa is a very fragile crop to produce, and it takes about six months before picking the crop.”

Fortunately, families in the CFCA program in Bolivia still have access to this dietary staple.

“We still have families who work farming the quinoa as well as other crops to be able to feed their families,” Adelio said. “They help each other by trading crops that they produce over the years.”

Through sponsorship support and their own ingenuity, families in the CFCA program are able to cope with economic challenges such as rising food prices.

Besides its nutritional value, quinoa has the added benefit of being an environmentally friendly crop.

“The demand for quinoa is large because it is a natural product, which does not require chemicals to enhance it,” Adelio said. “For this reason, it is less harmful for the environment.”

Apr 4 2013

Making eco-friendly curtains and jewelry in Honduras

Thorn and seed curtains

Braulia, a CFCA sponsored elderly woman (right), and Cristina, daughter of a sponsored aging friend, sell their curtains and jewelry by a roadside in Honduras.

A group of mothers and daughters in Honduras recently shared with us a special technique they use to craft environmentally friendly curtains and jewelry from thorns and seeds!

Check out our interview with 10-year-old Tania, a CFCA sponsored child, who describes how she helps her mother make interesting and eco-friendly designs.

I’ll never forget the day I was sponsored because it was my birthday. I was turning 6 years old.

My name is Tania, and since that day I have become part of the beautiful and loving CFCA family.

I help my mother make curtains and bracelets by opening the little holes in the seeds and stringing them together.

I like to make the bracelets, but I don’t like to make the curtains because it takes too much time, and I get bored.

CFCA sponsored child

Tania, CFCA sponsored child in Honduras, helps make designs from thorns and seeds.

I want to invite my sponsor to come to my community. I would love to meet her and teach her how to make the bracelets and necklaces.

DIY thorn and seed curtains and jewelry in 3 steps:

  1. The first step is to look for the thorns, which we call “cachitos” or bull’s horns. This is the most difficult part of the process because a large number of stinging ants live inside the thorns and sting our hands.
  2. Next we have to get seeds. We use a seed called “Lágrimas de San Pedro” or Saint Peter’s Tears. These seeds are usually brought over from another community. We try to use any kind of seeds we can find in our community. We paint the seeds so they are colorful.
  3. Once we have collected all the necessary materials, we start to make our products. First, we make holes in the seeds and thorns. Next, we create a design and use fishing or metal string to make the curtains and other kinds of jewelry.

Read the full story about mothers making eco-friendly curtains in Honduras

steps

Mar 15 2013

Helping families achieve self-sufficiency, part 2: Antipolo, Philippines

By Kristin Littrell, CFCA correspondent

 water hyacinth products

Beng in her storefront selling her water hyacinth products.

CFCA is not a one-size-fits-all organization. We rely on our field staffs to know the families in each community, to listen to their needs and hopes, and to provide a program that empowers them to build a path out of poverty.

In the second post in this three-part blog series, we give you a window into several CFCA communities, to gauge the success of the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.

Water still covers the path to the home of Kuya and Beng, parents of a sponsored child in the Philippines. The area has yet to dry out from monsoon rains that recently hit their community.

Kuya and Beng live with their family in a small home, made of bamboo and plywood, just 5 meters from the lake’s edge.

Like many in their small fishing village, they depend on the lake for their livelihood. Kuya owns a banca (a small fishing boat) and a fish cage.

But the fishing hasn’t been going so well lately.

Water hyacinth, a highly invasive aquatic plant, has hurt the local fishing business. The water hyacinth grows densely along the shore, making it difficult for fishing boats to navigate. The plant also prevents sunlight from entering the water, which reduces the food supply for the fish. Read more

Mar 13 2013

Wishing for a well: Community gets clean water source

By Jordan Kimbrell, CFCA Sponsor Services

Oliver's village
A rural village, west of Antsirabe, Madagascar, is home to a small farming community.

Farming is one of the main sources of income in the Antsirabe region, and the members of this community rely on it.

families in Madagascar

In 2011, Dolores Reed from Paducah, Ky., who sponsors Olivier in this region of Madagascar, learned from an article that many people in the country don’t have easy access to clean water for drinking, cooking or watering the crops in seasons when rainfall is scarce.

She learned through CFCA that Olivier’s village lacked ready access to clean water. The community where he lives relied on streams, which also served as drinking water for the livestock.

“They didn’t have [good access to] water,” Dolores said. “We take water for granted.” Read more

Mar 7 2013

Recycling plastic bottles to make furniture in Guatemala

At first glance, this may look like an ordinary loveseat in a Unbound office in Guatemala:

recycled sofa

But as is so often the case in Unbound, great stories abound where you least expect them. Peel back the cover and you get this:

recycled sofa

That’s right, a loveseat made from recycled plastic bottles ó a true labor of love from Unbound scholars in Guatemala!

We’ve blogged before about how CFCA scholars perform community service as part of their scholarship requirements. Unbound scholars in Guatemala perform 30 to 40 hours of community service each month.

One enterprising group of students decided to make these eco-friendly furniture pieces as their community service contribution:

recycled furniture

“The scholars who made this furniture show us that recycling can be a lot more interesting than stuffing paper, cans, cardboard and bottles into the proper containers,” said Luis Cocon, Unbound communications liaison for Guatemala.

“A couch made from recycled plastic bottles may not be something we are used to, but I was pleasantly surprised with the comfort I experienced while taking a seat in one of them.”

What are some ways in which you find new ways to renovate used or recyclable items?