Alva was born and raised in the southwestern Guatemalan department of Jutiapa, but soon felt that the land there was not as suitable for growing crops as in other areas. She eventually moved her family to the department of Petén in the north where she purchased a small plot of fertile land.
There, one of her neighbors invited her to attend agricultural training led by FRB’s local partner APIDEC in its Guatemala Four Departments program. Although Alva was afraid at first that others wouldn’t let her join the program, they quickly accepted her. She eventually began to form new relationships, regularly attending workshops and learning alongside the other participants.
After a few years of living in Petén, her son married a woman named Sheyla who was from his mother’s hometown in Jutiapa. Sheyla was heartily welcomed by Alva and their new community. The two women now work their gardens side-by-side.
Both Alva and Sheyla say they’ve been encouraged by their friendship and how it has strengthened the bond between their families. The women have learned many new cultivation techniques, such as how to diversify their crops, make organic insecticides, construct their own seedbeds, and graft plants. The families are growing many varieties of crops on their plots and are now able to sell their produce. Their economic well-being has improved as a result of training and practice, and they saved enough money to start a fish hatchery, further diversifying their families’ diets. Alva and Sheyla have begun to teach their children how to grow food, and many people from their community come to see how they plant and grow produce on such a small plot of land.
Alva feels blessed to have been a part of APIDEC’s training and now teaches others in her community what she has learned.
Guatemala-Four Departments encompasses 25 communities, 750 households, and 4,500 individuals
Participants in FRB’s Kenya-Ngong Intashat program who join Self-Help Groups (SHG) learn a variety of skills that help them improve their families’ lives.
For example, Esther’s SHG received training on growing vegetables in sacks as a first step in starting their kitchen gardens. She became interested in the workshop during her community’s Participatory Rural Appraisal exercise on how to cut household costs through producing her own food. She started out with one sack garden set up near her kitchen and now has two. Once she began harvesting vegetables she realized how much they improved her family’s nutrition, and hopes one day to have 10 sack gardens. As she put it, “My children no longer eat only ugali [a starchy porridge] with tea. We have a balanced diet.” She uses the money she saves at the market to cover other household expenses. Esther encourages group members whose sack gardens are at the early stages of development by sharing her experience and suggesting possible solutions to challenges that may arise.
Members of six SHGs attended a two-day training on conservation agriculture and establishing demo plots on their fields so they could share their learning with others in their communities. Attendees learned how to select seeds, apply both organic and inorganic fertilizers, plant, and maintain the demo plots. Three demo plots were immediately established, and the farmers have begun interacting and training other people from other communities and sharing their new ideas.
Some groups are receiving training in "table banking" (community savings and loan practices) to learn to be more self-sufficient and reduce their dependency on donors. When groups save money together at regular meetings, they amass enough capital to provide low-interest loans to members who are then able to start or maintain income-generating activities. One such endeavor was to make and sell liquid soap. Since people have to use soap daily, soap making is an excellent way for SHG members to earn money. One SHG held a workshop on making liquid soap, and was able to sell 80 liters of surplus soap at market.
Kenya-Ngong Intashat encompasses 10 communities, 4,500 households and 31,500 individuals
With around 3800 varieties of potatoes in Peru, you can imagine that the people who live there are expert potato cooks! Potatoes, grains, meat and fats are staples of the Peruvian diet, but as participants in FRB’s Peru-Castrovirreyna program begin to improve their children’s health through nutrition, they are also learning to grow, cook, eat and appreciate a number of vegetables new to them. Cooking classes for the whole family become a way to try new foods, develop recipes, and even inspire people to compete for prizes as they invent new dishes.
CODESO, the local partner of the FRB program led by Lutheran World Relief, printed a handsome cookbook they call “Llapanchiqpaq yanukusun” in Quechua, or “Let’s Cook for Everybody.”
A year after Beatrice received agricultural training in FRB’s DRC-Katanga-Kamina program, her situation has changed from desperate to thriving. Last year, her family of nine suffered when her husband lost her job and her youngest child fell seriously ill.
Members of her church helped pay the hospital fees, and things started looking up when a friend told her about a program that offered training in farming. The FRB program gave her hope because she saw it as a way to feed her family, earn a decent income, and gain reliable access to food, healthcare, education and other life necessities.
In this video, Margot Bokanga, DRC Program Manager for UMCOR, explains how the Foods Resource Bank Democratic Republic of Congo- Katanga Kamina program is addressing health and nutritional needs and spells out how a potential issue could be turned into a great strength for these communities.
FRB’s Mexico-Chiapas program is addressing challenges of poor nutrition, poverty, and loss of population from migration due to global policies beyond the control of the community. The program promotes food security by supporting families’ organic crops, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens.
Access to water is limited, so efforts are focused on collecting water in tanks for irrigating staple crops like beans and corn, and water conservation practices in family gardens. Many families are cultivating depleted land, and are benefiting from training on
Mothers, babies and families participating in FRB’s Perú-Chota program are enjoying improved health through workshops and follow-up on hygiene, home vegetable gardening, nutrition, agriculture, and clean water practices. These rural communities are also securing greater access to basic municipal services , and the program has developed standards for inter-agency coordination between health and educational centers. Hygiene, nutrition and school gardens are a part of school curricula, and mothers and teachers alike have a positive attitude towards the program’s activities.
Over a three-year period, 450 boys and girls under the age of five in the communities have experienced a 9% reduction in chronic and an 11% reduction in overall malnutrition.
Don Tomás, a 52-year-old father of seven who participates in FRB’s Bolivia-Potosí program, says: “Before this program began, one of our biggest problems was water scarcity. Sometimes we were able to plant only a portion of our land, and only when the spring rains came. Now, with the installation of the sprinkler irrigation systems using water from our pond, we can save water, it gets to more families, and we are able to water more frequently with less work. So, this year, eight families were able to plant a hectare (2.47 acres) more than we did last year. There was a drought, but our crops are doing better than those of other families who don´t have this kind of irrigation."
Representatives from local partner Nord Sud realized very early on that they would have to gain the trust of the villagers if they were to be successful. They did this not by simply presenting the information and leaving, but staying and living in the village for 20 days of every month to work and teach alongside the villagers. It still took over 2 years of effort before the villagers began to accept the new ways of eating and farming. We saw a new 2-room school, and small metal bins they used to protect their crops from insects and rodents.