Tuesday, November 11, 2014


The kitchen is often considered to be the heart of a home and the kitchen is often the heart of activities at the Centro ICO. Completed in March of this year the kitchen occupies the western corner of the property. Designed by Kathy and Cristobal (from San Antonio) to be a multi-purpose building the kitchen is a cooking space, a teaching space and an additional meeting space. Constructed for approximately $2000 Cdn. the kitchen boasts a fuel efficient stove, double doors that open outwards to increase the size of the teaching/meeting space, screened windows for light and air circulation, and a generous overhang to provide expanded protection during the rainy season. There is a pila for washing up and a water filter to ensure safe drinking water as water quality is a challenge in San Antonio Palopo.

On Mondays an instructor from MAGA (Ministerio de Agricultura Ganadería y Alimentación - Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Nutrition) comes to the centre to teach four to five women how to prepare a nutritious lunch. Donations from people like you help purchase the food. The lunch is shared with the ancianas, women in their 70s and 80s, many who live alone. The menu this week included vegetables picked fresh from the garden less than 20 metres from the kitchen (now that's local!). Up to 15 ancianas make the weekly pilgrimage to the centre - no mean feat in a village that rises steeply from the shores of Lake Atitlan. In addition to good food, the weekly lunch date is an important social time for these women.

Woman with baby on her back filling a pot with water at the pila.

Radishes and carrots growing rapidly in the garden.

For the rest of the week Moscamed, an outside organization, is using the kitchen in the afternoons to teach mothers of underweight children how to prepare healthy meals. 

As school is out, vacation school is in at the casita, with one program for youth ages 11-12 and another for youth ages 9-10. Vacation school has up to 20 youth in each session. Human rights was the topic of discussion today…..
Visiting the centre this afternoon was a heartwarming experience with lots of activity from mothers with children gathered around the kitchen to the youth in the casita to a volunteer working in the garden to Kathy holding an impromptu meeting on the stairs. Never a dull moment. I am looking forward to spending more time at the centre.

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