¿Qué comen las niñas y niños de Cuncani todos los días?

La comida es esencial para nuestra vida diaria y la refleja a la cultura local. He vivido en varios países como Japón, Alemania (anuque no recuerdo mucho), Canadá, y Perú, y es bastante sorprendente ver cómo los platos servidos en una mesa de comedor varían entre los países. Al mismo tiempo, la comida es un determinante crucial de una vida saludable. Debido a que la desnutrición es un gran problema en Cuncani, es muy importante continuar con nuestro esfuerzo para obtener una mejor comprensión de lo que los niños y niñas en la comunidad comen todos los días. Por ello, Nexos Comunitarios adoptó FotoVoz (una de las actividades basada en la metodología de Investigación Acción Participativa) con 8 niños de la comunidad para responder a esta pregunta.

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En lugar de aplicar un método de investigación tradicional, mediante el cual los investigadores visitan a las familias para entrevistas o encuestas en relación con su consumo de alimentos; la metodología FotoVoz nos permite buscar el mismo resultado con participación de los niños y niñas en la captura de fotogradías de sus comidas diarias. El resultado es mucho más significativo ya que exhibe imágenes de las comidas servidas en sus hogares (a diferencia de las repuestas obtenidas a través de entrevistas o encuestas, que luego escribimos en el papel). Además, el diseño de FotoVoz construye una relación horizontal entre el facilitador y los paricipantes (los niños) a través del proceso. Por otro parte, esta metodología provee libertad para que los participantes pueden tomar fotos y disfruten del uso de las cámaras.

De 8 niños en la escuela, 7 niños han completado sus diarios de alimentos con las fotos de sus comidas. Cada diario ilustra una variedad de fotos de comidas, los niños y niñas muestran lo que comen en su vida diario. Veamos algunas de las imágenes tomadas por ellos.

La mayoría de las personas de la comunidad consume té con leche y papas con pan, maíz tostado (cancha) y, ocasionalmente, alguna fruta en la mañana. Por la tarde, las familias preparan sopa preparada con papas, arroz, en ocasiones, algún tipo de carne y algunas verduras.

IMG_3610Este es uno de los platos favoritos de Andrés que se sirve en su casa. Él la explica de esta manera: “esta es una sopa hecha de papas, carne arroz y verduras. Las papas son de nuestra tierra, y la carne es de las ovejas qye criamos.”People in the community consume milk tea and potatoes with bread, canchas (known as Andean toasted chullpi corn) or fruits. Due to lack of access to the potable water in the community, the families boil the water and drink tea or milk tea every day.

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Todos los días, Verónica ayuda a su madre a preparar comida para su familia. En Cuncani es muy común que las niñas ayuden sus padres a cocinar diariamente. Verónica dice: “Este es papas con fideos. Yo cociné esto en mi casa. En fácil prepararlo, pero sabe bien.”.

Las papas son las más consumidas ya que son los cultivos predominantes que la comunidad cultica en su campo (otras verduras, arroz y frutas se compran en el mercado de Lares, los lunes de cada semana).

En general, las fotos tomadas por los estudiantes demuestran que las papas y el arroz son los alimentos básicos diarios. Una veriedad de vegetales es limitada y menos frecuente en la mesa del comedor.

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Al mismo tiempo, los niños y niñas no solo tomaron fotos de sus comidas, pero también capturaron paisajes, amigos y animales en la comunidad.

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Esta es una foto de Francis con su padre. ºel dice “estoy ayudando a mi papa a cultivar la tierra. Estamos haciendo esto para ayudar a cultivar papas el próximo año. Mi ermanita tomó la foto por mi.” Todas las familias de la comunidad cultivan sus tierras de octubre a noviembre y cosechan las papas en la próxima temporada.

A lo largo del proceso de FotoVoz (lee el artículo anterior “Ajuste del diseño del proyecto”) los niños y niñas se mostraron entusiasmados con la idea de tomar fotos y crear sus propios diarios de alimientos. Como facilitador, diría que no fue una metodología fácil para adoptar Requiere mucho timepo, recursos, planificación y compromisos para llevar a cabo el proyecto. El plan necesitaba algunos ajustes en su proceso. Dos cámaras dejaron de funcionar, y algunos de los niños estaban tan emocionados de usarlas, pero olividaron tomar las fotos de sus alimentos de forma regular, o incluso perdieron las fotos que habían tomado. Además, la lejanía de la comunidad y la falta de acceso a las herramientas de comunicación (sin Internet ni servicio telefónico) permitieron coordinar con la clase solo una vez a la semana.

A pesar de estos desafíos, la realización de los diarios de alimentos, hechos puramente por las manos de los niños y niñas, es importante para nosotros. yea que refleja el trabajo hecho con valores de libertad y reciprocidad. Nexos Comunitarios valora la participación local y la relación horizontal con la comunidad como un elemento indispensable para promover el Desarrollo Humano Responsable. No estamos allí para actuar como simples invesitgadores o ayudantes de la comunidad. Estamos allí para promover el desarrollo junto con los miembors de la comunidad en cada paso del camino.

Este es la aplicación de la metodología de Investigación de Acción Paricipativa. Ahora vemos una mayor posibilidad para Nexos Comuniatrios de continuar utilizándola para aprender más sobre la comunidad y, al mismo tiempo, empoderar a las niñas y niños.

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What do children in Cuncani eat every day?

Food is essential for our everyday life and it reflects a local culture. I have lived in Japan, Germany (although I do not remember much), Canada, and Peru and it is quite amazing to see how plates served on a dining table vary among the countries. At the same time, food is a crucial determinant of a healthy life. Because malnutrition is a problem in Cuncani, it is important to continue our effort to gain a better understanding of what children in Cuncani eat every day. Thus, in 2017,  Nexos Comunitarios, adopted the Photovoice (one of the methodologies of Participatory Action Research)  to work with 8 children in Cuncani to answer this simple question.

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Instead of applying a traditional research method, where researchers visit the families to conduct interviews/surveys in relation to their food consumption, the Photovoice methodology allows us to seek the same result by engaging student through the activity of capturing their daily meals using cameras. The outcome is much more meaningful as it exhibits physical images of the meals served in their homes (and as researchers, we are not simply give the answers gained through interviews which we then write down). In addition, the design of Photovoice constructs a horizontal relationship between the facilitator and the participants (the children) through the process. Furthermore, the methodology provides the freedom for the participants to take photos and enjoy the use of cameras.

Of 8 children in the school, 7 children have completed their food journals with the photos of their meals. Each journal illustrates a variety of photos showing the children’s daily food intake and their life in Cuncani. Let’s take a look at some of the pictures taken by them.

People in the community consume milk tea and potatoes with bread, canchas (known as Andean toasted chullpi corn) or fruits. Due to lack of access to the potable water in the community, the families boil the water and drink tea or milk tea every day.

IMG_3610In the afternoon, soups made with potatoes, rice, meats and some vegetables were most commonly prepared by the families. This is one of Andres’s favorite dishes served at his house. He explains: “this is a soup made of potatoes, rice meat, and vegetables. The potatoes are from our land. Also, the meat is from the sheep that we raise.”

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Veronica helps her mother every day to prepare food for her family. In Cuncani it is very common for the girls to help their parents by cooking on a daily basis. “This is potatoes and fried pasta. I made this at home. It is easy to make but it tastes good.”

Potatoes are eaten the most as it is the predominant crops that community grows in their field (other vegetables, rice, and fruits are purchased from the market next town). Livestock is also very common in Cuncani. According to the children, although they like all type of meats, they prefer the Guinea pig the most (families also raise pigs, chicken, alpaca, llama, and sheep). Guinea pigs are reserved for special occasions such as birthday, wedding, or celebration.
In general, the photos taken by students demonstrate that potatoes and rice are the daily staples. A variety of vegetables is limited and less frequently on the dining table.

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Children not only took photos of their food, they also captured scenery, friends, and animals in the community.

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This is a photo of Francis with his father. He says, “I am helping my father cultivating the land. We are doing this to help grow potatoes. My little sister took the photo for me.” Every house in the community cultivates their land during October to November and harvest potatoes in the next season.

Throughout the process of Photovoice (see the previous article “[Work in Progress] Adjusting project design“), children have been excited about taking photos as well as creating their own food journals. As a facilitator, I would say it was not an easy methodology to adopt. It requires much time, resources, planning and commitment to carry out the project working hand in hand with the children. The plan needed some adjustments in its process. Two of our four cameras stopped working. Some of the children were so excited to use the cameras but forgot to take the pictures of their food on a regular basis, or even lost the photos they had taken. Also, the remoteness of the community and lack of access to communication tools (no internet or phone service) made it possible to coordinate with the class only once a week.

Despite these challenges, the accomplishment of the food journals, purely made by the hands of children, is significant for us as it reflects working with our values of freedom and reciprocity. Nexos Comunitarios values participation and horizontal relationship with the community as an indispensable element to promote responsible human development. We are not there to act as a mere researcher or helper for the community. We are there to promote development together with the community members every step of the way.
This is just a first step of our application of the Photovoice methodology. We now see a greater possibility for Nexos Comunitarios to further use this methodology in order to learn more about the community while empowering the children at the same time.

[Work In Progress] Adjusting project design

Every failure is a stepping stone that leads to success.

Although we are pleased with the progress of the project, not everything goes as planned. It is important for us to be flexible in designing the project from lessons we learn while doing the field work. Our photovoice project* with children in Cuncani is a perfect example of this. In this blog, I would like to share some lessons we have learned with the photovoice project.

Lesson 1: Planning a time to teach the children how to use the equipmentPhotovoice Nexos

We found it necessary to schedule a time and place to meet with the children and show them how to use the equipment. The original plan was for the coordinator to visit the school every week and show the children at that time. However, the teachers strike in the Cusco region, which lasted for more than two months, prevented us from carrying out this plan. Under these circumstances, it was difficult to reschedule the workshops, since the community has limited communication methods (Cuncani does not have phone service or internet). To fix this problem, and ensure the progression of the project, we coordinated with the students to create a schedule of training workshops based on their availability. Also, with the help of the community, we decided to carry out an hour-long after-school workshop in the community centre.

 

Lesson 2: Greater emphasis explaining the purpose of the project

During the workshops, we had instructed the kids to take pictures of all of their meals for 7 days. Even though the students have followed the guideline to take the photos of their meals, they did not take pictures of everything they ate. Our local coordinator, Saturnina, has indicated the need of NC to focus on explaining the project to the parents in order to have their cooperation. It was clear that we needed to explain in greater detail the importance of the project and enlist help from the parents. I will be sure in the future to allocate time in explaining to the children the purpose of the project and provide appropriate guidelines on how to make a food journal so that they will not miss a single meal of the week.

Lesson 3: Process of selecting participants

Embarking on a project as this requires flexibility, but we learned our original method of selecting participants was too flexible. We have worked with children ranging from 7 to 11 years old. Each one is curious about the use of camera and wants to be involved in the project. However, a 7-year-old boy, who was competent with the camera during the workshop, but could not take the pictures while at his home. Therefore, we decided to focus on students in grade 5, who are old enough to understand the project’s purpose, and be capable of using a camera to take pictures of their meals. At the same time, working with a small number of kids (there are 9 students in grade 5 at Cuncani’s primary school) allows us to complete the project more easily in the planned timeframe versus involving all children who are interested.

Based on the challenges from the original project design, we were able to adjust it easily. It’s a learning process, but the great part of working as a project coordinator for NC is that I have the ability to make these modifications. With the responsibility to carry out the project, and I have experienced the first-hand issues at the ground level. I believe a good field-worker is a someone who makes the most out of their mistakes and uses them to improve the situation. Our photovoice project is still a work in the process of finding a method that works best in Cuncani. Despite all the challenges, we believe this project has the potential to help measure the nutrition level of the community, while establishing a working relationship with all people involved.

 

* NC uses the photovoice as one indicator to measure the nutrition level of the community. The objective of the project is to capture with photography what family’s daily meals are really like in the community.