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
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
Meet Marie, mother of three children in Madagascar, who found a creative way to help her family through selling environmentally friendly charcoal made from soil, grass and charcoal powder!
One of her children, 11-year-old Safidison, is sponsored through CFCA.
My husband works in rice fields. I am a housewife.
Before our son was sponsored, we sometimes went hungry because we could not afford to buy food, especially when my husband could not find a job.
Paying school fees for all three children was really a challenge.
Life was not easy. Money was hard to come by since my husband does seasonal work, and the money he made was not enough for our needs. Read more of Marie’s story
A Chinese proverb says it’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness.
We can find a modern-day parallel in a community in Cali, Colombia, where families in the CFCA program found it’s better to take action and plant a tree to help the environment!
For several years now, Colombia has suffered from a drought that has caused the nation’s government to urge citizens to conserve water (see this article for more information).
This particular CFCA community in Cali has had limited water supply as a result, and CFCA mothers groups met to discuss the problem. Read more
Chinese cabbage grows in bamboo strips in a CFCA organic gardening initiative in the Philippines.
Rapid urbanization has brought many problems, including garbage, malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity.
CFCA helps secure food for sponsored friends and their families while encouraging them to develop creative, sustainable solutions.
Mavic Ihap, Quezon project coordinator in the Philippines, describes how parents of sponsored children are cultivating vegetable gardens in a Caloocan City neighborhood.
As the CFCA project encourages families to act on their own development, our parents of sponsored children initiated a food security project, believing that cultivating their own crops is a better way of securing food for their families.
One of the identified issues in their community is rapid urbanization.
In the city people can seldom obtain fresh vegetables because most of it comes from distant provinces, which contributes to its high cost.
Parents of CFCA sponsored children in their communal garden.
Through their regular small-group meetings, parents eventually came up with the idea of vegetable gardening.
They coordinated with the city’s agriculture unit for free seedlings when they started the project in January 2011.
Beyond saving time and money, they can now provide their families a delicious and nutritious menu from the fresh vegetables just outside their doorsteps.
For households with no space to plant, they used bamboo strips, plastic containers, tin cans, old pots and rice sacks.
The gardens are a way of advocating environmental awareness within the community. They help “green” the city and reduce air pollution.
It can also reduce garbage as they recycle non-biodegradable containers, kitchen scraps and anything that decays, which can serve as organic fertilizer.
Jenny, mother of CFCA sponsored children Shailyn and Shaira, harvests cauliflower.
Aside from household vegetable gardens, the project also includes communal gardening.
Extra produce from the communal vegetable garden is sold around the neighborhood, helping replenish the group’s fund.
This is a result of the project’s continuous community empowerment as we journey toward realizing the Hope for a Family program values.
This initiative formed as a result of CFCA PamBuhay groups, where parents of sponsored children work together to identify and resolve important issues in their communities. You can learn more about PamBuhays in this story.