One of NPH Nicaragua's youngest boys has a love for agriculture. July 5, 2017 - Nicaragua
Marcial and some of the chicks he cares for
“I like our new goats but I also really like the chickens because I can help take care of their babies,” said 6-year-old Marcial,* one of NPH Nicaragua’s youngest farm enthusiasts. Marcial is an energetic child, and his excitement shows even stronger when he has the chance to spend time with the animals of NPH or look for fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the property.
Marcial, along with his older brother and sister, became a part of the NPH family in 2013 when he was just two years old. Later that year, four of his cousins joined them. The seven cousins lived together with Marcial’s mother and several uncles and aunts in a rural area. Marcial’s father, José, passed away when Marcial was very young. His mother, Leopoldina, or “Santito,” worked hard for her children and nieces and nephews, but often was only able to work picking coffee beans and earned very little money. Marcial and his cousins had protein deficiency when they entered NPH, but the meals at the home have helped them reach healthy protein levels.
All children at NPH Nicaragua are familiar with homegrown fruits, veggies and meat, and homemade dairy products. It’s all a part of their daily food intake at NPH. The NPH Nicaragua home sees self-sufficiency in food production as an ultimate goal, and proudly moves forward in producing more and more food for the home right on the property. The fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and fish produced at NPH make up, in total, about 20% of the dietary intake of the entire home.
The animals on the NPH farm include chickens, pigs, cows, and goats. With these animals living here, NPH children have eggs and pork to eat and milk to drink. NPH has also begun making its own cheese with the milk from the dairy cows to reduce the amount of dairy products the home needs to buy.
Having such strong agricultural programs make it easy for children like Marcial to learn more about plants, animals, and where their food comes from. Often, the youngest children can be found tailing our year of service workers, like Diego*, in the fields or with the animals. “I want to work in the fields and with the animals, but I especially want to work with Diego,” said Marcial.
Fortunately, Marcial already has some practice helping with animals. When he goes home during vacation for a week in July and a month after Christmas, Marcial says he helps take care of nearby animals and plants. “I feed cows and pigs,” he explained. “They eat plantain peels and old carrots. I helped my mom plant our own plantains and carrots but they are still baby plants, so they haven’t grown yet.”
With so many plants growing and animals living at NPH Nicaragua, all the children, from the youngest like Marcial to the year of service and university students, can learn about agriculture and where their food comes from. Marcial enjoys seeing the farm and fieldwork at NPH up close. “I like seeing the food grow before I get to eat it,” he said with a smile, “and sometimes I get to take extra tomatoes.”
*Name changed for privacy purposes.
Emily Doyle Communication Officer
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson