More than 1 million children under age 5 in the developing world are undernourished, so families’ ability to secure food is critical.
Unfortunately, harsh climates and scarce water in many of these countries contribute to poor harvests.
ChildFund International works closely with families and communities to employ proven strategies and provide technical support and needed resources to cultivate sustainable garden projects. Two are flourishing in Ecuador and Guatemala.
Eight years ago in Ecuador, many parents did not have the level of education needed to hold a steady job and adequately support their family’s and children’s needs. Specifically, the Patután community, located in the Province of Cotopaxi, experienced high female illiteracy, child abandonment in schools and high instances of child labor.
But with help from ChildFund and Hope Way, an association based in the Patután community, family members received training in flower and vegetable cultivation with the goal of building greenhouses.
Luis Changoluisa from Cotopaxi used to work as an agricultural day laborer. Much of the time he was absent from his community and far from his family. His wife, Maria, took care of their three children, the house and the animals.
But after attending several training sessions on producing flowers and vegetables, Luis and Maria acquired a loan from their community bank, now known as the Federation of Exporters in Ecuador, to build their own greenhouse.
What began as a modest garden of carnations has grown into a successful business, supplying flowers locally and for export.
“We can now send our kids to school,” says Luis. “I am my own boss; I work near my home and can stay in my community with my kids so my family can be together.”
Had Luis and Maria not installed the greenhouse, which greatly expanded their income potential, their children would have had to quit school and gone to work. Instead, they are studying at third- and fourth-grade levels. Now the Changoluisa children dream of attending university, and Luis and Maria hope to make those dreams come true.
In addition to agricultural education, the Changoluisas received training in finance, trade, customer service, business management and issues affecting their community on a higher level, such as children’s rights.
Luis is now the coordinator for the “Camino a la Esperanza” association for local growers, and vice president of the flower-growing association of Patután. He’s taken charge of his family’s future — and his community is benefitting.