Representatives of the Benson Institute are helping Ecuadorian families to become self-sufficient by providing training for growing crops and raising animals. (See accompanying video)
The project is part of the institute’s mission to “improve the quality of life of the people of the earth through improved practices in agriculture and nutrition.” The institute recently merged with Latter-day Saint Charities, an arm of Welfare Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As Luis Tarquino, father of one of the 140 Ecuadorian families to receive help, said: “Some nutritionists (told us) about how to use the garden crops in our diet. At my home we have eaten up what we planted, the entire harvest now. On behalf of my family I’m grateful to the Benson Institute.” He said he was also grateful that the Benson Institute was helping many other families.
Another family to benefit from the initiative is that of Maria Carmen Quito Chuquin. “In my family, before the Benson Institute came, we didn’t even know how to grow food crops,” she said. “They taught us a lot about raising crops. We didn’t know how to raise guinea pigs either, nor chickens or pigs.” The institute also taught her family about nutrition and “to make things cleaner so that our children don’t get sick.”
“We used to take our baths in the river,” she explained. “We would bathe our children, and they would get rashes. Our children would get sick quite often ... but now we no longer have much of that. We bathe at home; we get our water from spigots at home. We prepare our food with water from the faucets; we don’t use water from the ditches anymore. We try to be cleaner, to take care of our families better.”
The feelings expressed by Tarquino and Chuquin are echoed by many who have been helped by the efforts of the Benson Institute. Having water to drink, water for bathing and washing clothes, and enough to eat is something most people take for granted, but in parts of the world providing those basic needs is a challenge.
The Benson Institute is named after former Church President Ezra Taft Benson, who was also a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Since 1975, the institute has been working with rural, impoverished families to raise the quality of life by improving food production, nutrition and health.