Strengthening Family Bonds
When cooking is not work but a special event and eating together is more about family than filling the stomach, then it’s “Family Project.”
Reported by Martin Bliem
Communication Officer, NPH Bolivia
November 14, 2017
In June of 2017, NPH Bolivia volunteers started the program “Proyecto,” or the “Family Project.” Also in the NPH Honduras and Mexico homes, it is an opportunity for siblings to spend quality time together with the volunteers and learn how to cook along the way. One main goal of NPH is to keep families together and strengthen the relationships among siblings. The Family Project is one tool out of many to help ensure that their bond grows strong. Spending mealtime together is an important ritual for the NPH family. Cooking together is even more exciting for the children, especially when it means special time with just their siblings and the volunteers.
Martin, a volunteer from Austria who implemented this program in NPH Bolivia, shares: “Family Project is really a great idea. Cooking together bonds siblings together in a very unique way. Games often have a winner and a loser. Cooking, on the other hand, has no competition. The kids share a common goal and help each other, which results in something very delicious.”
The project starts with going to the market together. The kids learn how to buy food, discerning which are the good-looking and fresh vegetables, checking the different prices and managing the money. Back at home they then learn the basics of cooking, like washing their hands before preparing the food, and how to use a stove. For many kids, especially for the younger children, it is their first time cutting vegetables. A little extra help is needed from the volunteers to make sure that a finger does not get cut.
“It´s so nice to watch that the older ones, who already have some cooking experience, always help their younger siblings and show them how to do things. For all participants it’s always a very nice experience. And when we sit together as we eat, the kids often start to talk about their biological families; a topic that can be rare at the dinner table, since many of the children have heartbreaking stories to tell. So this special day is a good opportunity to talk about the beautiful parts of family,” shares Martin. “Choosing the next family is often the hardest part, as so many kids hope it is their turn!”
*Names changed for privacy.
Bolivian law prohibits us from using photos that show the faces of minors.
Photo above: Marcos* and his two brothers are going to cook pancakes. Photos below: The volunteer Anne brings her best recipes to Bolivia, Marcos* and his two brothers use the stove for the first time, Mayte* teaches her younger brother Manolo* how to peel and cut carrots.