THE PARAGUAY CHRONICLES: GOOD FOOD & GREAT PEOPLE!

Read below for another entry in The Paraguay Chronicles, and find out what Kendyl loves about the food and people in Paraguay! 

Written by Kendyl Kolb

Kendyl

Since arriving in Paraguay, our team has had the chance to experience new and fascinating foods, landscapes and art. The people of Paraguay speak mainly Spanish, but the majority of the population also speaks the indigenous language, Guarani. People tend to mix the two together. We’ve had a fun time trying to not only maneuver our way through Aregua (the town we’re in) speaking Spanish, but also learning phrases in Guarani.

Besides language, the Paraguayan culture has introduced us to new foods like sopa Paraguaya, which is a traditional food that you would expect to be soup, but it is actually more like cornbread. We have also enjoyed milanesa de pollo, empanadas, and mandioca. Of course, we’ve had to throw in the occasional pizza for a small taste of home! The freshly squeezed juices are delicious, and the famous Paraguayan drink is called terrere, which is a tea that you can find in the hands of just about everyone, young or old, as they go about their day.

Our team can usually be found eating our delicious Paraguayan food at Don Pablo’s Restaurant. We go there for lunch and dinner almost every day. We have become friends with our server, Julio, who is there every night (he has just about memorized our orders!). For breakfast we often have toast with dulce de leche (caramel sauce) and fruit.

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Here we are with Julio (in the black hat)!

Although the food is muy delicioso, the people here in Paraguay are even more amazing. We have had so much fun getting to know the people that work for Good Neighbors. Each one of them has a fun and fascinating story about life here. Everyone in the community has been extremely welcoming, hospitable, sweet and, most of all, understanding when I cannot speak Spanish very well. Our project involves us working at the local school and we have really gotten to know the kids as well as the teachers. They are all so excited to see us everyday and are always ready to talk to us, play with us, and even help us work. We have heard stories, legends, and dreams from so many different people here and it has brought us so much joy. More often than not, many kids say their dreams are to be in the World Cup because futbol (soccer) is extremely popular here.

Another popular part of their culture is clay work. Walking along the streets of Aregua, you can find hundreds of handmade clay sculptures and pots for sale everywhere you go. Along with pottery, there are often hammocks for sale. The people love hammocks and it has also been one of our favorite things to enjoy here at our hostel with our host. We’ve also visited the beach down by our hostel and see some beautiful handmade crafts.

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Emily and John reading and relaxing on the hammocks!

We’ve also learned a lot about the Paraguayan culture through sight-seeing. We visited the local church in Aregua, which was beautiful, and we also visited Aregua’s famous castle. We have encountered beautiful fruit trees and broken down railroads, and cobblestone streets. We also toured the capitol, Asuncion, and saw the house of the President of Paraguay.

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Posing for a picture in front of the President’s house in Asuncion. From left to right: Aaron, John, Anna-Kate, Emily, Kendyl, Sabrina, and DeMaree

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Visiting the local church.

Our experience in Paraguay has been nothing short of amazing. The people, the language, the food, and the sights have been wonderful. Everything here is definitely shaping my outlook on life and culture. I’m looking forward to the many more adventures I know we’ll have during the rest of our time here!

Are YOU interested in volunteering for Good Neighbors? Visit our website here to learn more! 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE PARAGUAY CHRONICLES: WHAT WE’RE WORKING ON

In this next entry of The Paraguay Chronicles, John tells us what projects they’ve been working on in the community.  

Written by John Vernon

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Recycling, compost, mural painting, and playground building are some of the various projects that we’ve been working on with Good Neighbors Paraguay. Recycling and compost are important parts of environmental stewardship, because they reuse waste in ways that are beneficial to the earth and to the community.

For example, the playground we’re building is made from recycled material. The children at the school will experience the ways that recycling can have a positive impact, and then begin recycling themselves, and maybe start teaching their friends and family.

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Anna-Kate helping build a compost structure at the local school

Composting is also important, because the compost can be used by the local community for agricultural and gardening purposes, which directly affects food. For a long time, many community members have disposed of trash by burying it; however many materials are not biodegradable and the waste collects along the streets, surrounding the local school.  In addition to burying trash, many families and members of the community burn trash to dispose of it, which is a huge danger.

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Garbage on the side of the road

Children growing up in areas where there is a large amount of air pollution have higher likelihoods of developing respiratory problems, such as asthma. Burning trash can be more dangerous than common pollutants, because of the chemical emissions that are released when plastic and other high waste materials are burned. Illness among people in developing areas can be severe from unsanitary conditions.  By reducing waste and changing unhealthy habits that are ingrained in the community, Good Neighbors is hoping to reduce some of these health issues and increase quality of life!

Good Neighbors has also provided recycling bins at the local school, and to create a sense of solidarity in waste collection for the school, we will be painting a mural. This is an important step because it is a reminder of community for the students, teachers and families in the surrounding area. Educational projects will continue and the strengths of community members will be key in this waste transition. Although the need for clean-up and stewardship is clear, the strength of community members working together in Aregua is the most important in this exciting process of change.

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Our painting materials for our mural!

Interested in learning more about our volunteer opportunities? Visit our website!

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Food For Kids: Supporting Children in Malawi

Our Food For Kids Project provides food for children in over 18 countries around the world.  Currently, our greatest need for this project is focused on supporting Malawi, a country experiencing extreme weather conditions including a massive drought, and devastating hundreds of thousands of acres of maize resulting in fears of another possible famine.

Malawi is located in southeast Africa, with a population of almost 16 million people residing in a country smaller than the state of Pennsylvania. Its staple crop is maize, and Malawians rely on this food as their primary source of sustenance.

In the 2014/2015 maize harvesting season, erratic weather conditions such as severe flooding and long dry spells, devastated Malawi’s agriculture yield. This resulted in a record decline of a staggering one million metric tons less maize from the previous season.

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Destroyed fields of maize in Katsumwa, Malawi

According to UNICEF, as a result of this year’s flooding, nearly 160,000 acres of land have been damaged, heavily impacting a country where most of its people survive from subsistence farming, in which farmers produce only enough crops to feed themselves and their families. Crops of maize have been destroyed, and prompted Malawi President Peter Mutharika to declare that half the country is in a disaster zone. The frequency of droughts and floods makes Malawi’s economic development even more challenging for a population already weakened by poverty.

Malawi’s National Director for Civil Society Agriculture Network, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, stated that “we need assurance that no Malawian dies of hunger and that Malawi has enough food.”

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Underdeveloped maize as a result of devastating weather conditions in Katsumwa, Malawi

Good Neighbors’ priority is to assist our project site locations in Malawi with the resources to purchase imported maize. There is a Community Development Committee (CDC) made up of local community leaders and residents at each project site location. The members manage their own finances, develop ways to save money in case of emergencies, and collectively vote on ways to spend the money to improve their community.

As a result of the flood, drought and low yield of maize this season, each CDC has voted to spend their savings on purchasing imported maize so their people do not starve; however, they don’t have enough funds to purchase the amounts necessary to survive.

The imported maize will be sold to residents at less than 50% of the market value, with a portion of the sale being saved and deposited back into the CDC’s bank account as reserves for the future.

Please join Good Neighbors in providing aid to the people of Malawi. Your tax-deductible donation will go directly to the purchase of maize so that Malawians won’t suffer from hunger this season.

 

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The Paraguay Chronicles: I don’t want to go home!

It’s time for the second entry of The Paraguay Chronicles! DeMaree, another student from Azusa Pacific University, tells us about her first impressions of Asuncion, Paraguay. 

Written by DeMaree Scobey

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Meeting a school teacher and a few students

During my first car ride in Asuncion, Paraguay, I noticed that the roads were very bumpy. There were no speed bumps but large bumps on the road every five seconds (sorry buttocks!). There are SO many cobblestone streets, which is very different from the roads back home. The country is very old-school, which I love.

First we went to Aregua to visit a school, and I noticed that the kids play soccer and other games with each other all day long. It is very refreshing to see that instead of kids staring at technology constantly.

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Meeting the children at the school in Aregua for the first time

We drive through the streets often and I have found that the country is very artistic because there is a lot of street art. It is less graffiti, and more art. There was a gorgeous mural of some kind in the first hostel we stayed at and it had many graffiti influences. There are also a lot of pottery and art shops along the sides of most roads. On every street there are plenty of trees and plants. The cities are very green. Asuncion is a very colorful city and everything is appealing, even when it’s not meant to be. For instance, the broken down building next to the hostel we stayed at in Asuncion was beautiful.

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Graffiti art at our first hostel in Asuncion

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A house just down the road from the school we’re working at in Aregua

Even though Paraguay has many issues with waste management, my first impression of the people was of complete happiness. You see parents playing with their kids while surrounded by dirt and trash, but they are still completely happy. I feel as though they are more thankful for what they have here in this country.

To be honest, I have loved every second here in Paraguay. I honestly don’t even want to return to the United States.

 

Interested in learning more about our volunteer opportunities? Visit our website!

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WHY I GIVE: Meet Nelson

We’re so excited to share our new blog series with you, WHY I GIVE! In these blog entries, you will meet donors and volunteers who support our projects, and learn what inspired them! 

First up, meet Nelson, an avid runner who has been supporting Good Neighbors projects since 2013.

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Running for Team Good Neighbors at the 2014 LA Marathon

“It’s good to help out. And it’s even better when you help out without expecting anything in return.”

My name is Nelson, and I am from El Salvador. I’m an assistant manager at an oil change shop, where I have been for the past 9 years. I first heard about Good Neighbors through my cousin, who was working at a cafe in the same building as the organization. She saw a flyer advertising that Good Neighbors was running the LA Marathon, and told me about it, so I contacted them. I was really excited for the opportunity to run it because I had been wanting to run a marathon for a couple years but still hadn’t had the chance. I quickly joined their 2014 team to support their Project Cookstoves. In 2015, Good Neighbors was running the LA Big 5K, so I joined that team as well, in support of Project Good Sisters!

Through running with Team Good Neighbors, I soon learned about their Child Sponsorship program. I was very interested, and I’m so happy that I now sponsor Juan!

Juan Pedro, the child Nelson sponsors

The Child Sponsorship program interested me because I was raised by a single mom, and she always taught me to be generous with other people. My mom is an amazing example, because she has been sponsoring my nephew for quite some time, and the help that she has provided has helped him to be the boy that he is now. I want to be an example for Juan, just like my mom is for my nephew.

Since I’m on my own, I thought I might as well do something good. If you’re able to help out anyone else less fortunate than you, then you have to. I believe in helping your brothers and sisters; and they don’t have to be blood-related. I like to help by giving with the little bit that I have.  It’s not a sacrifice, nothing mandatory, it’s just from my heart. I feel good doing it and I’m blessed.

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Nelson and his family

People ask, “why do you do it?” Well, because  it’s good to help out. And it’s even better when you help out without expecting anything in return. Also, knowing that you’ve actually made a difference in someone else’s life is amazing, because hopefully that person will grow up and think, “I had help once.” And later on, since he had help once, he may be able to help somebody else.

My favorite part of sponsoring Juan is when I receive his photos and letters.  He seems really happy, and that makes me happy.  You never know where he was before being sponsored, how he was living, or whether he had something to eat. It makes me happy to know he now gets food everyday, and goes to school.  It feels amazing to help other people, especially someone that you know can never repay you. But as long as you know they’re having a good life for themselves, you feel happy.

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I would totally recommend the Child Sponsorship program to my friends. I really value what I am doing for Juan’s future.

Thank you, Nelson, we know Juan appreciates you too and because of you, he will get a childhood full of education and happiness! Are YOU interested in learning more about our Child Sponsorship program? Visit our website here

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