Eleven-year-old Cesar had never heard of greenhouses, nor had his family. Cesar lives with his Mayan family in the community of San Miguel, Chicaj, Guatemala. Like most in their community, they live in extreme poverty.
In San Miguel, men work as day laborers on large plantations during the summer. But during other seasons, job opportunities are few and far between. Many fathers find it impossible to adequately provide for the proper health, nutrition, education and development of their children.
Cesar’s family struggles on about US $48 a month.
ChildFund helps families like Cesar’s find meaningful employment through a greenhouse program. The greenhouses allow families to grow crops that can supplement diets and provide an additional source of income. Twenty families currently participate in the program.
"This tomato initiative has helped us a lot since we do not buy tomatoes anymore and we were able to buy school supplies to help our kids to go to school well prepared," says Julia Orellana Chitic, a leader of the project.
"This initiative has also strengthened my bond with my children and my husband. My children and I have learned a new job as well. Community members are amazed as they had never seen the macro tunnels before. They approached us asking where we had found such technology and who helped us."
Community members are producing larger, pesticide-free, higher quality tomatoes. They say their jucier, have a better taste and are actually bigger than the ones traditionally grown.
Family incomes have also gotten juicier.
The construction of greenhouses helped Cesar’s family produce 50 boxes of tomatoes each harvest, netting the family an extra US $70. Cesar’s family uses the funds for medicine, food and clothing.