“My name is Fatima. I am a 24-year-old mother of two boys aged 8 and 5. My husband is 40 years old and works for a tobacco farm. I was born in the city of Jinotega, but I live in the La Ermita community in a rural area of northern Nicaragua.”
“I take care of the household, which includes my children and my mother-in-law, who is 80 years old. My community is small and poor. We have a preschool and elementary school, but not a high school. We only have water a few minutes a day. With the little water we receive I fail to fill the two basins that I have in the yard.
Twice a week I walk an hour to the river looking for firewood to cook with. Every day I get up at 4 in the morning, turn on the stove and start cooking rice, beans, and coffee and over 30 tortillas. This is what we eat every day. Then I pack lunch for my husband because he leaves for work at 5:30 in the morning and returns at 4:30 in the afternoon, Monday to Saturday.
We do not get milk, cheese, beef or pork in this community. However, it doesn’t matter because most of us do not have the money to buy it. A lot of people migrate to countries like Costa Rica to find jobs. They leave behind their homes and their children. Men work at construction sites or farms whereas women work as housekeepers. My husband and I would never go to another country, we would never leave our children.
My eldest is in third grade and youngest in preschool. I tell my oldest son about the importance of staying in school. He gets up at the same time I do to study together, I let him read the questions and then repeat the answers. I also ask his teacher to help him in class and she is very supportive.
I would like my sons to become doctors or engineers so they can build me a new house. But in this community we only have one primary school. The nearest secondary school is in the community of San Marco, but the round trip bus ride costs 20 córdobas (approximately 74 cents per day or US $3.70 per week). And that's a lot of money for us.
My husband earns 900 córdobas every week (approx. US $33) and most often his salary pays what we owe at the local grocery store. When the money is not enough to buy food, we ask for credit.
Every day two women cook for 91 children at the community school (as part of WFP’s School Meals initiative). Many children go to school without eating. But when they go to school, they eat a hot meal cooked by moms. This food helps children and also helps the community.
I cook once a month with another mom named Rebeca. She's new in the community. I cook 40 tortillas and the beans at home. Then I take them to school and on the stove I cook the ‘atol’ (cereal) over a fire and the rice. When the food is ready Rebeca serves the children and I wash the dishes, cups and spoons. It might seem that cooking 40 tortillas and washing dishes is a lot, but I'm used to it!
Sometimes I try and cook something different and delicious when it’s my turn. One day I went to the mill and began to mash the beans that I cooked before. I added tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, cumin and cilantro. Then I took this mix to the school kitchen and fried them in oil. That day the children were really happy and they ate the food quickly. They said they like to be cooked for like that, because some women only boil the beans and then serve them. Hearing that they were satisfied made me so happy.”