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.”
We’d like to introduce Missy, a new sponsor, who lives in Chicago. Missy discovered CFCA through our website, www.cfcausa.org, and has been sponsoring since June. She started by sponsoring an aging friend, then added a child and youth to her sponsorships.
I actually just came across this site while browsing around online. It may have been an “accident,” or perhaps, I was gently brought to it.
My philosophy is no one should ever have to suffer, and that includes people everywhere all over the planet, which basically goes hand in hand with CFCA’s mission: “Our mission is to walk with the poor and marginalized of the world so they may live with dignity and participate fully in society.”
Whatever I can do to help alleviate the suffering of others, I will do so.
So far, has the experience of sponsorship matched up with any expectations you had when you started? Have there been any surprises or new things you’ve learned along the way?
It has really exceeded my expectations. It’s not just a handout each month and that’s the end of it.
What I love is that you help provide essential benefits to help people climb out of poverty.
You also get the chance to be encouraging and to develop a special friendship, which to me is absolutely priceless. Plus, I am inspired by my sponsored friends.
You have sponsored friends across all ages! What have been some of the similarities and differences in getting to know each of them? See Missy’s answer
The wisdom and resourcefulness of the families in our sponsorship program never cease to amaze us!
In just one example, sponsored friends and their families in Bolivia often use chuño, a ubiquitous form of dehydrated Andean potato, to supplement the volume and caloric value of their diets.
Very few crops do well in the high-altitude, arid conditions of the high Andean plateau. But potatoes are one of the crops still vigorously cultivated generation after generation.
Dario is the widowed father of Cristian and Giovana, who are both sponsored in the CFCA Hope for a Family program.
Dario and his family make their humble home against the expansive, deep-blue backdrop of legendary Lake Titicaca.
Most of the family’s income is seasonal, and they must overcome difficulties to make ends meet. Read more
“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bobís full update on his Facebook page.
All sponsors arrived well in Bolivia. We are very grateful for this, considering the airline challenges caused by Hurricane Irene.
Lee Ann Schwope from Ohio arrived with her arm in a sling, after suffering a dislocated shoulder the day before she left for Bolivia.
She is doing very well. Never misses a side trip or an invitation to dance. Thank you, Lee Ann, and God bless you.
The beginning of our mission awareness trip in Bolivia has been enjoyable and inspiring. In the morning, sponsors received a general orientation to Bolivia and to the CFCA project in Cochabamba.
Bolivia in general:
- roughly the size of Texas and California combined
- 70 percent of residents are indigenous
- three climates according to altitude
- altitude in Cochabamba: 8,207 feet (2,558 meters)
- sponsored children in Cochabamba project: 2953
- sponsored elderly: 221
- scholars: 110
Most sponsored children live in their own homes. Some are in orphanages and centers for children of special needs and abilities. Read more
Bob Hentzen recently wrote to the CFCA headquarters from the road in Bolivia. You can see the full update on his Facebook page.
Itís a pleasure to be in touch from Bolivia.
The going has been challenging with high altitudes, swollen rivers and steaming tropics. Yet each morning we have walked with confidence and wonder into the morning sunrise and enjoyed spectacular beauty of the rainforest.
We have been accompanied and inspired by walkers from different nations – devoted sisters from Poland and Colombia, volunteers from Switzerland and the USA, orphans and youth with different abilities, CFCA sponsors from Minnesota and Iowa.
Through these photos we offer you the smiles of our young people, the determination of our mothers and the joyful exhaustion of our walkers.
I thank you for your solidarity as we move on now to the CFCA projects in Brazil. We will enter Chile at Tambo Quemado on March 22. The Atacama Desert awaits us.
We ask for your prayers.
Walk2gether is now in Brazil. The walkers arrived there March 9.
CFCA sponsor John Aceti went on a recent mission awareness trip in Bolivia. During the trip, he met Bob and Cristina Hentzen, who were conducting a 2-kilometer solidarity walk there. The Hentzens have since returned to Bolivia to continue with Walk2gether.
A unique experience I had in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was when Bob and Cristina did the 2-kilometer walk with our American group and the local village members.
Families join Bob and Cristina Hentzen in a solidarity walk during a recent Bolivia mission awareness trip.
After we disembarked from our bus, we walked to the front of the big group where Bob and Cristina were ready for us.
The walk began with the majority of the American group walking up front near our leaders.
I decided that I wanted to walk with the villagers and proceeded to move near the end of the line where they were all walking.
I wanted to internalize the experience and try to have a sense of connection as I walked with them.
As I walked I spoke in the best Spanish and the few words that I knew with some of them.
Although I took photographs, I approached one woman with a small child walking and said, Buenos dÌas, seÒora. øCÛmo est· usted? øBien? (Good morning, ma’am. How are you? Well?)
Bob and Cristina Hentzen participate in a solidarity walk during a recent Bolivia mission awareness trip.
She responded with, ìSÌî and a big smile. I then extended my hand to the child who looked up to her mother, who nodded, and we walked TOGETHER.
I did hear some laughter and applause behind us.
I did this about three times with different people when, on the last time, I felt someone slip their arm and hand around my right arm.
When I looked to my side, I looked into the eyes and face of one of the mothers who appeared to be saying with a big smile, “We’ll walk together with you, too.”
I felt a big rush of euphoria come over me, and that internalized my reason for being there. For three seconds I realized what Bob and Cristina experienced for 8,000 miles.
It was an experience that will be with me for a long time.
John Aceti, from Texas
CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen has now walked more than 5,700 miles of Walk2gether’s 8,000-mile route.
CFCA dancers at the Festival Folklorica in La Paz.
He has passed through La Paz, enjoying his experience of the Festival Folklorica there.
“I see a lot of shows around the world, but this one has been an enormous and spontaneous outpouring of ëcarino talento, entusiasmoí (talent and enthusiasm) ñ in particular among the children and youth with special abilities and the sponsored elderly,” he writes on his Facebook page.
Bob also visited Cochabamba, and here’s a note we received Feb. 2 from Eufronia Taquichiri, Cochabamba project coordinator:
“Cochabamba is living the emotion of the walk. Don Roberto (Bob) just passed a grueling stretch, completing the planned 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) with such courage and strength against the icy winds of our antiplano, climbing to reach the summit at 3,800 meters (almost 12,470 feet) above sea level.
“To my colleagues in Kansas: this walk is a true challenge. My respect and admiration for Don Roberto. May God bless him always. This is a life lesson. … Viva CFCA! Viva Don Roberto and DoÒa Cristina (Bob’s wife) always!!”
Bob is now in the Andean town of Pongo. Today (Feb. 4) is a rest day for Walk2gether.
(Check out our Facebook album of†Walk2gether pictures in Bolivia.)
Walk2gether arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, in time to celebrate Las Alasitas, a local festival with indigenous roots.
Here are two Bolivian miniatures, gifts to some of our staff in International. They are about an inch tall and easily fit into the palm of your hand.
Henry Flores, director of CFCAís communication center in El Salvador, spoke by phone with Ruth Valderrama, La Paz project coordinator.
Ruth and the walkers were arriving at the hotel and she did not have much time, but she managed to provide this brief explanation of the tradition.
The Las Alasitas fair is a local tradition that usually starts on Jan. 24 and lasts for about three days. People from all over La Paz and nearby El Alto come to the fair.
The fair is celebrated only in La Paz at the fair center and on the main avenue of El Alto, very close, but higher in altitude, than La Paz.
During the fair, local artisans, mostly indigenous people, make miniatures symbolizing different material wishes people have for the upcoming year.
These wishes can be for a house, a car, etc. People buy a miniature of the item they wish to receive.
There are also miniatures for those looking for a match. Women who want to find the man of their dreams buy miniature roosters. Men looking for a woman buy miniature chickens.
This major cultural celebration has its origins in indigenous Andean traditions. In ancient times, people would present miniatures to Ekeko, a household god of abundance and prosperity.
Many families in the CFCA sponsorship program participate in this local cultural celebration.
To see pictures from the fair, see our Facebook photo album.
John and Carol Aceti, CFCA sponsors, recently returned from a mission awareness trip to Bolivia. Here is John’s description of the experience:
John writes, “The first photo is of Carol and John with Claudio in Cochabamba. The second photo is a lovely young girl and lead dancer who entertained us. The third photo demonstrates smiles, appreciation and love of the women of Bolivia.”
Our mission awareness trip to Bolivia was both humbling and awesome. †The trip has affected us positively in many ways.
It has made us more cognizant of the many needs of the people as well as their generous and hospitable ways.
We met our sponsored child, the competent staff, all the wonderful people and the little 4-year-old girl who pulled on my shirt sleeve and asked, “Are you my father?”
All staff members in each of the three countries where we sponsor children are dedicated and committed to the program.
John and Carol Aceti, Texas