Posted on Leave a comment

Progress Report: Comepcafe, Colombia

Progress Report: Comepcafe, Colombia

A mother and daughter team at COMEPCAFE (above) share produce from their garden, including alchucha, a local fruit used raw in salads or cooked. A group of 17 community promoters are providing hands-on training with 288 families to revitalize interest in healthy, traditional foods that can lead to healthier diets. (See this article from Atlas Obscura for more on the Alchucha, otherwise known as the Achachairú.)

As they improve their home gardening techniques, families at COMEPCAFE are learning how to plan water usage and protect water sources.

Mapping local water sources is a first step to setting up irrigation systems for gardens and conserving this precious resource. As they improve their home gardening techniques, families at COMEPCAFE are also learning how to plan water usage and protect water sources. (The indigenous families of COMEPCAFE are part of Food 4 Farmers’ crowdfunding campaign with Grow Ahead to develop an agroforestry and food security project.)

Posted on Leave a comment

Blanca’s Journey to Motherhood

Blanca’s Journey to Motherhood – An Agros Story

In honor of mothers across the world, we want to share the story of Blanca Nubia, a young mother who, through the support of Agros, has risen above poverty into prosperity.

From Despair…

Blanca found out she was pregnant when COVID-19 hit. She and her husband, Yader, lived in a shack without running water or a basic latrine. Though they worked hard as day laborers, it was difficult to earn more than a few dollars a day and work was even more unpredictable. Fears and uncertainty about her living situation were worsened with the anxiety of her first pregnancy and the pandemic that threatened the life of her child, especially with no access to medical care.

…To Hope

We reached out to Agros supporters and asked them for help. The response was inspiring. Because of the generous support that poured in, not only did Blanca and Yader start receiving personal protective equipment and food, but they also were presented with their own home and land in the Agros village of Nueva San Jose. Blanca shares, “Before, we didn’t have a house, land, or medical attention. Agros has brought us closer to those services, and that makes me feel safe and self-assured.”

Blanca also began receiving special attention to make sure her pregnancy continued smoothly. A doctor visited Blanca for regular check-ups and provided her with prenatal vitamins and supplements.

In October last year, we asked Blanca about the assistance she had been receiving from Agros, “The doctor has been monitoring the advances in my pregnancy and refers me to the local health center,” she responded, “I am grateful for the doctor’s home visits. They give me confidence that my child will grow healthy and strong.”

In November of 2020, Brayan Estiben was born in a hospital – healthy and without any complications. “It was painful when I was giving birth,” Blanca reflects, “but when I had my baby in my arms, all of the pain went away. It is a marvelous experience to be a mother.”

Lasting Change

Brayan’s health is monitored as he continues to grow. Recently, his weight was checked by an Agros trained health brigadista (a volunteer medical worker) and she was happy to find the baby in good health. (The area surrounding Blanca and Yader’s village has an average childhood malnutrition rate of over 60%. Thanks to the overwhelming support of Agros donors, this issue is being addressed.) 

As Blanca makes her journey through motherhood, she will continue to have access to food, supplies, and medical assistance through Agros. 

Both she and Yader received farming training as well. Yader is cultivating his own crops, which will allow them to generate a sustainable income and reliable food source.  We are so grateful for you and all the Agros supporters who answered Blanca’s call for help. Today, she and her family are able to support themselves as they build a bright future together.

Posted on 2 Comments

Beekeeping in Maya Ixil, Guatemala

(Domingo Enoc Toma Lopez, a coffee farmer and beekeeper, models a Maya Ixil veil above.)

Beekeeping for families in Maya Ixil, Guatemala

Isabella de la Cruz Medina displays her certificate after completing her beekeeping training with Maya Ixil Cooperative. She is among 13 young people who have joined the cooperative’s beekeeping program and also works as a promoter. (Maya Ixil was recently featured in an NPR story on how communities are adapting to COVID19 and supporting families.)

Nineteen-year-old Isabella de la Cruz Medina first caught the “beekeeping bug” three years ago while helping her father, Maya Ixil’s beekeeping specialist and Food 4 Farmers’ beekeeping program coordinator. She’s now part of a group of young people trained and working as program promoters, while managing 10 hives of her own. Isabella is also studying to become an agricultural extension officer, and has set an ambitious goal of owning 60 bee hives.

(Isabella de la Cruz Medina (center) with her father, Domingo and Beatriz Ocampo of Food 4 Farmers.)

Beekeeping gear can be very expensive for beginning beekeepers, so Food 4 Farmers’ partner Maya Ixil in Guatemala has hired two young people to sew protective suits, and build racks and boxes for hives. This new venture not only employs young people who have few opportunities for employment in the community; it also makes beekeeping more accessible to coffee-farming families. Maya Ixil beekeepers can now buy necessary equipment for half of the market price and the two young people have ramped up their business. Every two months, they are able to produce and sell 20 jackets and veils, 10 overalls, 100 racks and 10 bee boxes, while also working as community promoters training new beekeepers.

Justo Perez Itzep

Justo’s family has struggled to recover since 2013 when coffee rust decimated their coffee production. Then in 2018 a landslide wiped out much of their farm. Justo’s father – a participant in the Food 4 Farmers beekeeping program – headed north to seek work to support the family. As the oldest child, Justo took over his father’s hives and now manages their small farm. He talks with his dad every week by phone, to get advice on managing the bees and the farm, where they now grow cardamom, coffee and food for the family. It’s been tough, but Justo is determined to make everything work while his dad is away. “When I took over the bees, we had just four hives and now I have 18. My dream is to eventually have 100 hives to help provide for my family,” he says.