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.”
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
By Kristin Littrell, CFCA correspondent
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
By Jordan Kimbrell, CFCA Sponsor Services
Farming is one of the main sources of income in the Antsirabe region, and the members of this community rely on it.
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
At first glance, this may look like an ordinary loveseat in a Unbound office in Guatemala:
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:
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:
“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?
By Judy-Anne Goldman, CFCA multimedia manager/producer
Juana, the mother of two CFCA sponsored children, cleans scallions, also known as spring onions, for 8 hours a day, three days a week in a small town in Guatemala.
Does she get tired of onions after all that time? “No!” Juana said. Her appreciation only grows. “Our onions are good. People in other towns and countries come to buy them. You should try them grilled,” she suggested. “It will make your mouth water!”
From left: Lucia, Zoila, Ramos and Juana start their work day at 8 a.m. and finish at 5 p.m., peeling spring onions that are a delicious part of local meals. Lucia and Juana are mothers of CFCA sponsored children, Zoila is sponsored through CFCA, and Ramos is a former sponsored child. Read more
For me it was a great blessing to have been sponsored, because in my family we are 11 siblings. For my parents it has been a little bit hard to help every one of us move forward, and much more now that my dad is suffering from health problems, just like my mother.
My sister Selva has already graduated thanks to God and CFCA’s support. Seven of my siblings have already graduated, and only four remain to finish.
It has been a very nice experience to be in CFCA, because besides giving us food, shoes and clothing every month, we have had many activities.
I really liked the CFCA Christmas celebrations. The activities that take place are very nice, and I really like to participate in them.
The CFCA social workers who have helped me for the past 12 years have been very kind, as well as the entire CFCA staff; they have a unique way of caring for the people. Read more
Deep in the lush mountains of the northern Philippines, an indigenous tribe lives respectfully with nature.
Meet the Dumagats.
The Dumagat indigenous community has lived in the mountains and lowlands of the Philippines for a thousand years.
They have slowly been pushed out of their home by logging, overfishing and encroaching landowners.
They could do nothing to address these problems because they never officially held a title to their lands.
And without guidance and assistance, they were hesitant to begin the painstaking documentation needed to obtain a title.
Until they partnered with CFCA.
Read the amazing story of the Dumagat indigenous community and how they worked with local CFCA staffers to gain the recognition of their ancestral domain.
Feb. 2, 2013, marks the 16th celebration of World Wetlands Day. Citizens, organizations and government agencies have participated since 1997 in raising public awareness for protecting the wetlands of the world.
CFCA serves families in El Salvador who live near Lake Guija, a designated wetlands area. Remigio, a farmer and fisherman, and Corina live with their children on a rented plot of land near the lake. One of their children, David, is sponsored through CFCA. Read more