Thursday, February 9th, 2023
This article is presented by the diocese's Global Mission Commission.
The majority of the families in the congregation of San Juan Apostol in Chichicastenango, Guatemala make their living from subsistence agriculture. They own only small parcels of land, and because of their poverty, their diet is very limited. They rarely eat meat or drink milk.
Indeed, Guatemala has the worst child malnutrition rate in Latin America. In 2022, the Guatemala Companion Parish Committee of the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Chestnut Hill, funded a Food Security Project developed by San Juan Apostol’s assistant priest, Padre Fidel Miranda, who also is a local agronomist.
The goals of the project are to reduce the chronic malnutrition of the participating families by teaching them how to increase their production of food, to produce more nutritious food, and to produce extra food that they could sell in the market and thereby increase family income.
St. Martin-in-the-Fields is one of nine Pennsylvania churches that make up the Diocesan Guatemala Companion Ministry, which was formed in 1996 and is affiliated with the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s Global Mission Commission (GMC). All member churches have companion relationships with parishes in Guatemala.
Methods for meeting the Food Security Project’s goals were to teach the families how to use organic fertilizers; how to plant a variety of vegetables and how to plan their garden for seed production; how to grow fruit trees; and how to raise, care for, and provide adequate installations for livestock.
The planners of the project researched the importance of livestock and found data indicating that the sale of livestock accounts for 60% of the income that farmers earn. Generally, the participating families had not been able to do much livestock production for consumption or sale.
The project, which started in May and continued through October, provided seeds, fertilizers, fruit trees, garden tools, materials for chicken pens and rabbit hutches, and ultimately 14 chicks, two rabbits, and one pig per family. Training sessions were followed by practice sessions and monitoring the families’ implementation of what they have been taught.
The project has proceeded well with the families putting into practice what they have learned, and Padre Fidel is committed to continue monitoring the families’ progress. If successful, the project will have improved the families’ health and economic condition and the children’s learning capacity.
The Global Mission Commission (GMC), formed by the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 2015, is composed of clergy and lay leaders who help to educate, inspire, and support parishes and individuals who seek “to know Christ and to make Christ known in the world by nurturing mutual relationships of Christ-like love, peace, and friendship with all people in our global communities.” To get involved, contact Canon Smyth, firstname.lastname@example.org