This month’s update comes from our partnership with Habitat for Humanity in western Guatemala and features our Rotarians Against Hunger seed grant program. Habitat Guatemala founded the Family Gardens Project in 2013 to help establish and improve family and community gardens as a way to address malnutrition and poverty. In 2014, Habitat Guatemala worked closely with the community to expand their Family Gardens Project to El Canaque, San Marcos.
We know that only starting a garden is not enough. Disadvantages like malnutrition and poverty often stem from restricted access to resources and a lack of knowledge about how to use those resources. After the gardens were established, Habitat Guatemala offered families and communities training on the organic production of vegetables and seeds — that is, a way to expand the use of the original resources and the resources provided by these gardens.
During the initial phase, malnutrition in the community was reduced by 52%. Several community members were also inspired to found a bio-factory that prepares and sells different organic inputs and products, the Bio-fabrica. The challenges faced by these communities are not gone, but this project has provided resources and education to develop new tools that can help provide for fundamental human needs like nutritious food and income.
Mangloris: Strengthening Families & Communities
Mangloris joined Habitat Guatemala’s Family Gardens Project when it opened in 2014. A mother living with her husband and five children in the El Canaque community, she tended a small family garden prior to participating in the community project. Mangloris has since become deeply involved in the communal garden and currently serves on the local Health Committee. Describing some of what she’s accomplished through the project, she shares:
“Through the support of the organizations and our own means, we have learned and improved as a family and team. We have harvested big crops of carrots, onions and trees to sell abroad. … We started working on our own, and bought new seeds and other items to keep on growing and growing. The main goal of the project was to teach us how to work on our own, and now we are ready.”
Mangloris describes two important aspects of garden projects — they’re collaborative, and they’re hard work. Seeds are a resource that only bear fruit (or vegetables) when people can readily access everything needed to nurture that seed from sowing through harvest. When nurtured, seeds and education can provide a livelihood that provides family nutrition and income. Income is critical because it’s versatile. It can provide access to supplemental foods, improve gardening methods, and it supports the local economy that other community members rely on for their own livelihood. In short, programs like Habitat Guatemala’s Family Gardens Project improve people’s quality of life and help people gain more power over their own lives.
Six years into the project, Mangloris describes how she and her family have applied the principles learned through the project.
“We learned to use every part of the vegetables that we grow by cooking them in different recipes for our children. We also use the seeds from the vegetables for future harvests. … It has been a great experience, because we have learned, grown and worked together! It has not been an easy road. But we continue moving forward. My dream is that one day, we will be selling all of our products in different towns.”
In 2019, Habitat Guatemala partnered with Seed Programs International in support of the Family Gardens Project as part of our Rotarians Against Hunger seed grant program. Rotarians Against Hunger is led by US Western North Carolina-based Rotary Clubs in Rotary District 7670. This program grants vegetable seeds to partners worldwide who are involved with nutrition, education, and income development projects.
Asked about the seeds supplied by Seed Programs International through the Rotarians Against Hunger program, she says, “The radishes grew really big! I prepared them in different dishes for my children and they loved it! We learned how to take full advantage of everything here, and now, all of the products are growing properly.”
So, what does the future look like for Mangloris?
“My dream is to keep working as a team. We need to work together as a community to continue improving. And I am hoping to keep working with Habitat Guatemala and America Solidaria too. I want to keep on dreaming and dreaming big! I have always enjoyed working with communities, motivating my team and showing them how to keep on dreaming to expand and grow.”
Your support of this project makes these partnerships possible. We cannot do our part without the support of folks like you who have contributed your resources in support of our own. You have the sincere gratitude of our team, and from Mangloris:
“We are very grateful for the seeds! They have been of great use to all of us. We have harvested and eaten them already. Thank you and may God bless you.”
— Sweet Blossom Gifts and the Team SPI