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Shagufta, from a shack built next to the train tracks to the classroom

Culture / -

shagufta imm rif
Save The Children

She is a nine-year-old girl who lives with her parents and eight siblings in the north of India, in its capital. The family lives in a shack overlooking the train tracks. Until two years ago, Shagufta had never been to school and did not even have a birth certificate. Today, thanks to Save the Children, she is in the fourth grade.

Shagufta, 9, has regularly attended the Save the Children Jigyasa centre for two years. As a result, she was able to enroll in a Delhi municipal school, which she attends each morning, and where she is a student of class four. Until attending the centre Shagufta had never been to school and was regularly working attaching the strap to chappal (slippers) sole. They get one rupee for every 12 pairs of chappals. She lives with her mother, father and eight siblings in a small shanty in the slums positioned directly next to the railway tracks of the Darbhanga area of Inderlok, New Delhi India. Shagufta dreams of being a dancer when she grows up.
 
All these slums are located adjacent to the railway 
Tulsi Nagar Basti was identified as the location as some of the most vulnerable communities in North Delhi reside here. There are three main slum settlements that form the catchment areas of the project: Daya Basti, Zakhira and Amar Park. All these slums are located adjacent to the railway tracks, which increase the vulnerability of children in terms of their safety. Most of the children in the area stay with their families in the kucha (make-shift) houses. Parents are mostly daily wage labourers, surviving on daily meagre earnings. Children in the area were either not going to school or engaged in labour, working along with their mothers at home. So far, through the centre, Save the Children 295 out of school children have been enrolled in the centre, of which 150 have been mainstreamed into nearby formal schools, 9 in the distance education through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and 95 have been provided vocational training. 321 children have been identified and put to the school directly in their age-appropriate classes.
 
Monthly meetings with parents
Some of the Key Activities at the Jigyasa Centre include, monthly meetings with parents, community engagement and mobilization, orientation of children on child rights and life skills, capacity building of stakeholders, age appropriate education and learning to children and their enrolment in formal schools, linking adolescent/older children with vocational training centres.
 
 

Amaranth: an old crop becomes a new resource for Argentinian families

Innovation / -

L'amaranto è una coltivazione tipica delle Ande

A traditional plant with very similar uses to cereals is improving the nutrition of the poorest families, thanks to a project by the Argentine Agrarian Federation that is yielding better than expected results.

In the province of Salta, which is situated in the Andes in northern Argentina, many rural families live below the poverty line and rely on public subsidies to meet their subsistence needs. In 2009, the Argentine Agrarian Federation (in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cipsi) gave the green light to the Kiwicha Project, which takes its name from the word for amaranth in the local Andean dialect.
The solution, which is aimed at improving children's diet and therefore their health, involves reviving this ancient agricultural product with the support of local authorities and families living in the area. Amaranth has nutritional benefits that are seldom appreciated: it is rich in protein and has a high content of calcium and phosphorus. Since it is also gluten-free, it is an ideal dietary component for coeliac sufferers and diabetics.
 
All-round involvement
The project involves the cultivation of six different variants of amaranth to obtain leaves and seeds that are highly appreciated in home cooking. The area's entire population is involved in developing this rediscovered crop, not least school children, who can have fun growing and cooking the seeds that derive from it. The project involves a total of 1800 families, 12 schools and a farmers' cooperative that manages a new processing factory for converting the crop into bars, pasta and bread.
Added to this is an outreach programme (in a permanent training and research centre) that educates people about the nutritional value of the plant, as well as a programme to develop new uses of Kiwicha.
This educational component earned the initiative first prize for best school project. It also spawned a documentary funded by the country's Ministry of Education.
 
A national success story
The success of this initiative has gone far beyond the intervention zones, reaching up to 40,000 beneficiaries who now use amaranth on a daily basis in their own cooking. Five years since the project was launched, the product has become an integral dietary component throughout Salta province, to the extent that the government has issued a decree defining the Kiwicha project a "national priority".
The fact that amaranth can adapt to different types of terrain and climate makes the initiative replicable in other countries with different weather conditions to those of Salta province.
Furthermore, the spread of this new agricultural crop has reduced environmental impact compared with tobacco and sugar cane plantations, which are highly polluting due to their use of pesticides and the production of waste that contaminates water sources.
 
 

Breakfasts around the world: lots of great examples that trigger the right signals

Lifestyle / -

La prima colazione nel mondo: tanti buoni esempi per dare il segnale giusto

Examples of breakfasts from around the world offer us hints, tips and ideas for when we wake up: those that trigger all the right stimuli, energy and signals.

Waking up is a reactivation of almost all of the body's hormones. Everything gets back into gear, and it is a powerful moment for the body to stimulate and generate energy.

During evolution mammals developed control systems to check the possibility of "switching on", to understand that if the energy you need to start and continue the way through the day are actually available. In the absence of suitable fuel, the body avoids energy consumption (and calories) and reduces all activities, limiting their actions to those that are essential to survival and little else. This explains the mid-morning fatigue from which so many of us suffer.
 
Mid-morning Fatigue
For this reason, in most cultures around the world, food intake in the morning has a profound significance, for its powerful effects on a metabolism (and among other things, without breakfast, our efforts to lose weight are likely to be quite useless), for regulating energy for the body and for the symbolic meanings that it can take on; because in today's world, breakfast remains one of the few possible moments of sitting together and talking as a family.
 
While in many parts of the world breakfast is always considered to be the time of the day for setting off, in Italy, only a small percentage of people eat properly in the first moments of the morning, and many skip that all-important metabolic moment and a large number restrict their energy stimulus to a coffee with a brioche eaten quickly at the coffee bar.
 
A new and improved breakfast that is “food conscious”
Thanks to an increasing awareness of food consciousness, the number of those who cannot do without breakfast is growing; and in the past few years, thanks to the progressive study of inflammatory signals and the increasing knowledge of "food signals," the value of the breakfast (or brunch) has become an increasingly scientific certainty rather than mere opinion.
 
For example, breakfast in the morning allows you to start burning excess calories but must contain the right amount of plant or animal protein (which must be distributed across the three meals of the day in a balanced and represents about one third of the plate) and must be consumed shortly after waking to properly activate the metabolism.
 
Protein and fruit for breakfast, the examples in the world
Breakfast with good presence of proteins that are made in Slavic and Nordic countries, for example, and allow you to arrive at the next meal without feeling hungry in the late-afternoon as a meal that ends the working day. The Anglo-Saxon world offers an exemplary lesson in "breakfast" culture with the well-balanced consumption of carbohydrates and protein (also low-cost such as eggs) exploiting those naturally present in cereals. Many cultures (Polynesia, Thailand, China) keep the same balance at breakfast and it is a good idea (as is often the case in Mediterranean countries) to start the day with fresh fruit.
 
Breakfast and brunch for the well-being
In the recently published book, Colazione e brunch per il benessere, a large number of breakfasts are described through recipes and photos, with possible variants that are typical of many regions of the world and changes that make them suitable also for vegetarians, or for anyone who is intolerant to certain foods, and so forth, fully respecting individual needs and choices. It has a particular aim: to help those who eat to make use of the sun's energy, as part of the food, to make it their own and to express it fully through personal well-being.
 

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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