Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Please help feed kids in Nicaragua

Nicaraguan children pile into the local feeding center in Tipitapa.   Steve Cagan/courtesy photo

From page B5 | April 28, 2013 |

By Walt Sherwood

Did you ever send your money off to some organization, say CARE or the American Red Cross, and wonder what they did with it? Where did it go? Who did they help?

Well, I had a chance to do just that last January, when I joined a delegation from Tipitapa Partners and went to Nicaragua to learn first-hand about the feeding centers they had helped set up for poor kids some 25 years ago.

What is a feeding center? In Spanish it’s a comedor infantil, a place where kids from ages 1 to 6 can come and get a balanced hot meal, along with a structured program that teaches them songs and games, numbers and the alphabet. There are five of them in Tipitapa, a municipality close to Managua, in an area where there is a free-trade zone with factories run by international companies where many of the parents work.

The feeding centers are staffed by trained and licensed teachers, with a lot of volunteer help from parents. Each one serves from 40 to 60 kids each day, during the morning hours. One of the centers is now being used by the community to train women to set up their own baking business.

The occasion of our visit was the inauguration of a brand-new center, built from materials donated by Tipitapa Partners with the labor of the community. It consisted of two large dining/meeting rooms, a kitchen, and up-to-date flush toilets in a separate building. The kids were present to sing songs to us and dazzle us with their smiles and boundless energy. Also present were several young women in their late teens or early 20s who had been among the first children to attend the centers 25 years ago, and were now attending secondary school or the university.

The comedores are run by an association called COMPALCIHT (from the Spanish for Municipal Coordinating Committee of Sister Cities with Tipitapa), which is a community-based organization with a small paid staff and a steering committee made up of the teachers from the centers and members of the community. We had the privilege of attending one of their meetings and listening to what they had to say.

Tipitapa is a very poor community and there are many needs. A lot of people are unemployed or work in the informal economy. Those who do have steady employment, in the maquiladoras, work long hours for very little pay. Everyone is interested in providing opportunities for their children, which is why the centers were set up 25 years ago and why they are still thriving today.

What’s the most urgent need right now? Stoves. In Nicaragua, most people cook on wood-burning stoves with an open fire and no ventilation: The smoke goes straight up to the ceiling and eventually settles everywhere in the room. It gets in the eyes, the nose, the throat. The brand-new feeding center has a traditional wood-burning stove. The women who do the cooking don’t want to use it. They don’t want to ruin the fresh new paint on the walls, but more importantly, they don’t want the children to be poisoned by the smoke.

So they are still cooking in their homes, as they have been doing all along, and bringing the food to the center to distribute. What they would like to have are new stoves, clean-burning, with ventilation. There are several possibilities: a modified traditional stove with a ventilator that sends the smoke up a pipe through the roof; a stove that burns propane gas, which would have to be delivered in canisters; and a stove that burns bio-fuel. Each choice comes with challenges, pro and con, which COMPALCIHT is considering very carefully. In the meantime, Tipitapa Partners is trying to raise money to fund whichever kind of stove they choose.

Would you be willing to help? I can guarantee you that any money you donate will go directly to the community to be used by them to purchase and maintain the new stoves. There is a local nonprofit in San Francisco, One World Children’s Fund, that collects the money for COMPALCIHT without charging a fee, so your donation will go directly to the people of the community in Tipitapa.

To make a tax-deductible donation, visit and click on the “donate now” button, or send a check to OWCF, 1016 Lincoln Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94129 and designate your gift to COMPALCIHT.

You will know that the kids of Tipitapa are enjoying a nutritious meal because of you, whichever kind of stove they choose.

— Walt Sherwood is a Davis resident. Reach him at or 530-902-4891.



Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Make that box bark: Studies show pets are good gifts

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Want some company? Enjoy food, fellowship at Holiday Meal

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

    Hit-and-run victim hopes for driver’s arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    No reindeer games for this student researcher

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Faithful flock to Bethlehem for Christmas

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Travel looks rough into Christmas Day

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Applications for jobless aid fall to 7-week low

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Supplies collected for victims of abuse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Luminaria display planned in West Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Gary Lee Yoder featured on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Seniors set to stroll through Arboretum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Nobel Prize winner will discuss research related to autism

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Why not give a shelter pet as a gift?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Merry Christmas!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



    He isn’t ready to listen yet

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Thanks for the winter shelter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Great experience for students

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Davis comes through again for UNICEF

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    There was much to think about

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6



    River Cats to show off Giants World Series trophies

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Legacy announces huge add-on to youth soccer complex

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

    Carrs drive DHS wrestling weekend

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    College Bowl roundup: Navy nips Aztecs in San Diego

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Devil JV hoopsters take third at Les Curry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Busy 2015 tourney slate unveiled by Legacy soccer

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8





    Plenty of local party options on New Year’s Eve

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Wineaux: Here’s to a sparkling new year

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A7





    James J. Dunning Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Floyd W. Fenocchio

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4