Guatemala is a beautiful country, with gorgeous mountains and majestic volcanoes, spectacular waterfalls and lush green valleys and rainforests. The beauty, however, can mask the poverty that exists all over the country. According to the World Bank, 59.3 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Among the indigenous people in the rural areas, 79 percent live in poverty, while 40 percent live in extreme poverty. Eight in ten indigenous children suffer from chronic malnutrition, a leading cause of death in children less than five years of age.
Here at Casa Sophia, a house for young women who come from the rural, indigenous areas and study in the universities in and around Guatemala City, Magdalena Pedro Juan, better known to us as Lena, is studying agronomy at the University of San Carlos (USAC). She wants to help farmers in her country learn about organic farming and combat childhood malnutrition in Guatemala. Agronomy is a branch of agriculture dealing with field-crop production and soil management. When asked to write about why she chose this field of studies, Lena wrote: “The passion and joy that I experience in learning about agriculture is my greatest satisfaction. I would like to convey the importance of organic agriculture to the greatest number of agricultural Guatemalans. There is a lot to do, and I believe that through sustainable organic agriculture, I can contribute to the solution of malnutrition that affects most boys and girls in my country. This is a form of production that allows farmers the proper management and conservation of soil free of toxic products, so that healthier products are produced for a healthy diet. For this reason I am involved in activities that provide me with knowledge on sustainable agriculture, to cultivate healthy and sustainable food through a production that does not harm the environment, with the purpose of training me to teach farmers efficiently and effectively.”
During this first year of her studies, Lena delighted in finding a large variety of insects and mounting them for a project in which she identified each insect, learned what crops they infected and studied environmentally safe ways to control them. In addition to planting crops of various vegetables with her classmates in the large farm area at USAC reserved for this program, Lena tried her hand with organic patio farming by planting pots of tomatoes, carrots, onions and peppers on the terrazzo above our garage. Her harvest was small but delicious and healthy! Keep up the good work, Lena!
By Sister Joyce Kahle
Assembly Directive: Act responsibly in the use and care of our planet’s resources