Study of the Status of the community canteens
Starting date: june 2009
Budget: AR$ 3.000,00
Place: Alimentar Enseñando
"A study of the quality of life of the people attending the community kitchen network of"Alimentar Enseñando" in the party of General Rodriguez, Province of Buenos Aires, ARG."
0] Context, present situation in Argentina
Argentina, (capital city Buenos Aires) has a land mass of 2,766,890 km2, access to the Atlantic ocean, a population of 42 million - 14.2 people per km 2. Territorially, Argentina is organized into 23 provinces plus the autonomous city of Buenos Aires, where the headquarters of the federal government is located.
Argentina has a very young democratic system, which was introduced on 10 December 1983. In 2003, Néstor Kirchner was elected president as leader of the ‘Front for Victory’ party. On the 28 October 2007, Cristina Fernandez, (the wife of Néstor Kirchner) led the ‘Front for Victory’ to another presidential election victory, taking office on 10 December 2007.
Argentina has 5 neighboring countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Bolivia, capital La Paz, 1,098,581 km2, is landlocked and has a population of 10 million - 8.4 people per km2.
Brazil, capital Brasilia, 8,540,877 km2, has access to the Atlantic ocean, has a population of 192 million - 22. 3 people per km2.
Chile, capital Santiago de Chile, 756,950 km2, has access to the Pacific ocean, has a population of 17 million - 22.2 people per km2.
Paraguay, capital Asunción, 406,752 km2, is landlocked, has a population of 6.4 million - 15.6 people per km2.
Uruguay, capital Montevideo, 176,215 km2 has access to the Atlantic ocean, has a population of 3.4 million - 19.1 people per km2.
I] Introduction to the study / Description of the association
The social problems in Argentina are very particular and more and more pressing – with the disproportionate gap between poverty and wealth growing ever wider. At the project we see evidence of this every day as the number of people coming to dinner increases regularly. Social policies dating from Peronist paternalism remain a problem, leading to a lack of education and poor nutrition, which makes the community increasingly reluctant and poorly able to change their situation.
Our case study was done on the “mother” community kitchen Alimentar Enseñando, located in:
Montes de Oca Nº 47 (1748) General Rodríguez, Provincia de Buenos Aires, República Argentina.
In the specific case of the city of General Rodriguez, to the west of Greater Buenos Aires is a city with a population of 120,000 inhabitants, 360 km2 a with a population density of 188.7 persons per km 2. The number of families in need has increased exponentially in recent years. The attention th estate can provide to the area has decreased, as the Lumber of people needing help has risen. For this reason our institution "Alimentar Enseñando" has grown during the last 7.5 years and it is working on setting up 12 annexes throughout the city, beyond its headquarters, to tackle the lack of attention to that part of the province.
The association operates in the following way: there is a network between the main ‘mother’ association of the NGO “Alimentar Enseñando” and its 12 satellite kitchens located outside the city center of General Rodriguez.
This study also deals with the community kitchens “auxiliaries” or “satellites”, handled by the mother association.
The main food and equipment supply of the NGO “Alimentar Enseñando” is provided by the ministry of social development, various voluntary donations, individuals and companies through different forms: money, presents and goods. As for the community kitchens satellites, all receive their supply through the various institutions for their own care. The supply comes mainly from government and NGOs such as “Caritas”, which assists Alimentar Enseñando, but also other organizations help such as the church, the local farm and neighbors etc.
Having started its work in June 2002, today they are still struggling as demand for food has increased so short-term solutions have had to be put into place rather than long-term: self-sufficiency. The solution long-term would be to generate jobs, i.e to teach the community how to fish rather than serving it fish (short-term).
Importantly, while much time is spent on trying to change cultural stereotypes, the people of General Rodriguez have been taught negative world views since childhood; for example, only eating certain foods, not working, not studying. They do not have access to good health care and do not know their own rights. To resolve these problems, in each one of these cases, the community have to work in partnership, networking and making partnerships with all sectors within the society, which "Alimentar Enseñando" has been doing. However, to achieve real and substantive change, it is essential the company is invested into and resources are pooled, to realize the primary goal: "social and labor Insert of the people and children poorly educated about food and needy families."
II] Motivation for the study: Social problems in General Rodríguez
On many occasions, The NGO has tried to find finance for this program from both the state and the private sector, but with no positive results. For this reason, the association with the help of the 2 volunteers have created this study, showing the real social problems in the area, aiming to show the reality of the situation in the neighborhoods of General Rodriguez. Currently, due to foreign volunteers who have been made aware of the situation in the area, it may be feasible to implement a strategy to help the marginalized sector of the population.
The study has been carried out by a professional social worker - Lic. Di Luna Maria De Los Angeles - and 2 volunteers who have come from Europe to study and to be able to understand some issues that the third world suffers today – Darvas, Reka and Groualle, Maxime. The managers of "Alimentar Enseñando" support the study being carried out and understand the importance of its aims, for the future of the children they care for and the area.
At least they have to attempt to do so urgently because as part of the society, they are adrift for not educating and as responsible Argentines, they can not afford but should undertake jointly with the various sectors, flatten and run the real change to rescue these children, elderly and families, therefore the "human being" in its integrality.
This project has been proposed to the volunteers by the NGO managers. It is based on the need for "Alimentar Enseñando" to have a clear and updated vision of its network of community kitchens so they can work together more effectively.
This study deals with the cultural situation in the various neighborhoods of the city of General Rodriguez. The main goals are to get enough information to make a realistic representation of the conditions of the people in different locations of the city. Following the many interviews and visits to the different community kitchens, the final report will summarize the questions arising as a result and will compare similar cases to see what aid is most urgent.
This study may eventually prove that there is a basic dilemma between the need for education and lack of resources. Lack of access to information that will help improve life in many aspects is the basic problem. If this information were available it would allow self - sufficiency, which would mean that the people in need can fend for themselves in the long term without depending on hand-outs.
III] Organization, objectives an study process
The way to proceed with this study is a professional exchange between a social worker and two European volunteers of the association "Alimentar Enseñando" to make a psycho-social study of the people of General Rodríguez.
Therefore, this study, conducted with the valuable help and experience of a professional social worker, aims to provide solutions for possible improvements with respect to how the network works, the way the organization does its work and the necessary improvement in the overall functioning of the NGO.
The caseworker Lady Di Luna Maria de los Angeles is the professional social worker for this study.Therefore, ‘Mary’ is a social worker with experience and is fully capable of doing this type of study.
Additionally, she is very enthusiastic in helping the development of partnerships, working with an NGO and in doing this study together to try to improve living conditions in the province of Buenos Aires.
The project development
The first step of the study is to obtain all necessary data of the main ‘dining room’ of the NGO and the auxiliary dining rooms. Details such as opening hours, the amount of time they have been operating, the type of room, the address of the location, the number of people who attend regularly and the data from the attendees. All this allows us to get a first overview of the kind of help they need to receive.
The investigation team has to visit all the community kitchens, asking all the details of their operations, to be documented and see how they operate. From theory and practice comparison, they can begin to select priorities and see what their main needs are. With all this information, they can conclude several things. The project team can assess whether the kitchen and dining room work well; if the dining room has a roof, an oven, if the place is clean and has everything they need or not.
The development of the study is following the work of the social worker,. The volunteers learned so much from her because of her impressive background, the collection of data and organization of work she proposed. The study was organized as follows:
A file for every satellite community kitchen
- Detailed description of every community kitchen
- Photos and documentation
- Observations and conclusion
A file for every family who attend the mother / main community kitchen
- Detailed description of the family members
- Copies of their ID and documentation
- Observations and conclusion
A project report
- Presentation of the study
- Main goals and objectives
- Principal / general conclusions
- Description of the projects following the study
- Useful annexes
All files will be put together and available at the end of the study, a copy will be given to:
- The NGO Alimentar Enseñando (original)
- The social worker (Lady Di Luna María de los Ángeles)
- HSVF (Hungarian Sending Volunteers Foundation)
- YouthProgram (EVS, European Voluntary service)
- The volunteers involved (Maxime Groualle and Réka Darvas)
Planning of the study / Deadlines:
|Research for a social worker||01 of June 2009|
|Description of the project and introduction of the study||15 of June 2009|
|Main community kitchen data compilation||01 of July 2009|
|Interviews with families attending the main community kitchen||15 of July 2009|
|Observations and conclusions about the families||01 of August 2009|
|Satellite community kitchens data compilation||01 of September 2009|
|Visit of the satellite community kitchens and managers interviews||01 of September 2009|
|Observations and conclusion of every satellite community kitchen||15 of September 2009|
|General observations and conclusion of the study||01 of October 2009|
|Description of the following projects||01 of November 2009|
|Creation and finalization of the study report||01 of December 2009|
IV] Social problems arising from the study
The first step was the observation of the situation and learning the rules and customs, cultures of origins of the population being studied. The observation was also done by living with the people.
Many things have been done: Talks, works of great importance in carpentry, the setting up of wooden houses, physical work, construction of walls and ceilings. They also organized various activities and support giving English classes, etc...
They investigation team tried to work without being influenced by politics. They tried to be objective but they cannot get away from all the political and social issues, as the people involved with handling these types of projects are normally involved in politics. After the mother community kitchen investigation, the investigators realized that most people who attend the dining room have sad and complex stories though all have similar day-to-day problems.
The connection points among the population in the different kitchens of the study are:
1- Abandonment by the family of origin
In most single-parent families, only the mother takes care of many children; the volunteers even met a family with 14 children. The mother gave birth to her first child when she was 15 years old, still a teenager and not knowing how to care for a baby or start a family.
This phenomenon occurs in many cases because in this environment, women are not using contraception and think that if they become pregnant, the man will stay with her to fund a family. Unfortunately, women’s desires do not match well with those of men, who prefer to escape from their responsibilities. Therefore, the man goes, women are left alone with a baby and need to take care of everything on their own.
2- Lack of education > Lack of work
The second major problem seen was the lack of education. Most families have no motivation or ability to obtain proper knowledge; many of the people the project group met have only been educated to primary school level, which is insufficient to get a good job. Due to lack of permanent job, minors must carry out odd jobs to help their mothers and the elderly. This situation for women results in prostitution at a very early age .
This is mainly due to family history, from very young, they need to work for punctual jobs and various small businesses in order to make some money to help their parents providing food for their younger brothers. Furthermore, the previous generation did not have enough education, so the parents, if they are still around, do not motivate their children to go to schools to be able to change this precarious situation. Also, the investigators discuss about the cost of attendance and the distance to do to get to school, but these problems can be solved.
3- Social plans and administration
Another problem is added to the others which does not further help the situation. This is the system of social programs which is meant to help people out of work, with a large family or in a situation of extreme poverty. Basically, this social assistance is a good point, but the volunteers realized that this system is not helping to change the situation. In fact, people get money and survive on this plan without the need to move up the social ladder. Therefore, a lot of people are living in houses of wood or veneer, spending their time watching television and on reaching the community kitchen and dining room.
Thanks to this study, the team can see more clearly the way chain of social support Works in Argentina, in the province of Buenos Aires and in the town of General Rodriguez. The principle of this aid is based on the same principle of giving without asking anything in return.
The diagram shows that the assistance provided by the Ministry for the community kitchen and dining room is very useful as a punctual service for help, but not enough to improve long-term quality of life.
That is why you are installing a climate of addiction and dependency rather than providing long-term solutions, education and training, which means evolution, intelligence and self-management and sufficiency of the community.
This operating system is not working like this by chance; the objective of the national policy in Argentina toward the people in need is to have and maintain full control and power. Therefore, this aid is an aid to survive, keep the poor in its current state, without attempting to improve their condition, giving minimum of food, but nothing about knowledge.
The project team can see that the system is inefficient and very static, building units and habits is closing a vicious circle of power. The solution is very simple in theory but quite complex in a larger scale. To make the main community kitchen’s operate more efficiently it would require, in addition to food, some workers in the management, formation or management of social programs for professional workers. The mother’s communitary kitchen and dining room and auxiliary communitary kitchens should offer local solutions for people who attend its service. They must get the opportunity and support to teach courses, classes or training for people who must become independent and evolve in society by getting a good job in a long term. But for this, the whole system needs to change dramatically and change its policy of controlling the people.
Alimentar Enseñando tried different programs and projects during its last 7 years of activity, creating workshops and classes and trying to give education to people. But today, people have become so addicted to the food aid provided by the Ministry and the various social programs that they are now without any envy nor motivation to get a better condition. They are desperate in a way, but also are used to living like this; this construction has created a paradoxical situation years of protectionist policies.
V] Possible solutions and future perspectives
So, from this study, the project team can see if the network is working well, if the different community kitchens are functioning well, what the difficulties are, who needs our help and, finally, what is not working at all for the community. The volunteers would like to strengthen the community to work together to improve solidarity among neighbors. The NGO also created workshops in the main dining room to give people training and work effort to raise their revenue.
This study will conclude in proposing the need to resolve the various projects that will follow this first overview of the situation of the people in order to improve services and quality of life of the neighbors.
Following this study of the overview of the quality of life of people attending the community kitchens,the volunteers have constructed a table summarizing the different needs of each of the auxiliary communitary dining rooms. In this table, we can see which are catering service is very poor and which seriously need help. Most kitchens need more space, which means a separate room for cooking, food to the children or a metal sheet to cover a portion of the property to provide a place to stay and eat and give milk to the youngsters.
Also, to improve health and teach the mothers to cook, a nutritional solidarity menu has been done. This menu will serve both to the several community dining rooms and to the families who are attending them. This project will enable all people to cook in a more wholesome, healthier, more diversified and more economical manner.
When the investigation team went to the various community dining rooms, they saw the condition of service and family life - the people need very basic help to provide a useful service. Therefore, following the project, several things will be done in as a priority. It will be necessary to put roofs at different locations, repair or construct ovens, add walls and other short-term measures.
Other help which can be offered is to inform the people of the ways to get different certificates that can be used to improve the quality of life for families with the criteria. Complete information will be handled, administrative addresses, necessary papers and telephone contacts of the places that provides the certificates.
- OLD AGE PENSION
- PENSION FOR MOTHER OF 7 CHILDREN
- PENSION FOR INVALIDS
- CERTIFICATES OF POVERTY
- FREE CAMPAIN OF IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENT
- OWNER PROPERTY WRITING
More workshops at the communitary kitchen an dinning room are also very important and necessary for community development, providing an income to people who want to and can. Some of these workshops are now available in the main dining room, but the project group would like these workshops also to be established in the different auxiliary community kitchens.
Now, there are churros preparing shops, sandal manufacture, crate fabrication and bijouterie, and the NGO wants to start new activities such as bakery, conserves etc. With this evolution, a solidarity within the network of community kitchens could grow and improve the living conditions of the people.
VI] Beneficiaries of the study
The beneficiaries of the NGO through this experience are very large. This study, for them, is a great opportunity to collaborate with a social worker assisting them on all aspects of how to make a serious social study, collecting all data required by contacting the principal actors, creating communication with those affected and the auxiliary community kitchen managers and also the actual creation of a sensitive approach to the people who attend the community kitchens.
This project also allowed the volunteers to participate in a very sensitive part of the development of the city, devoid of any theoretical and practical training reports showing the reality. The investigation team got more in touch with local people, who are fully aware of the current situation. Therefore, through a debate they share their views and ideas on how to change the situation, improve or highlighting the points where the problem comes. For the exchange seen between the different cultures, indeed the volunteers who through their experiences (despite their youth) mark this practice as a great achievement.
This study also allowed the 2 volunteers to know the places where people live in extremely precarious conditions. Therefore, it is very important for Europeans to see that poverty is large, and that it is present near the capital of Argentina. With this study, the volunteers now know more about the situation of the city of General Rodriguez, but can also transmit this knowledge to future volunteers who won’t need a year to find out what is the greater problem.
In addition, in this work, the European volunteers and the Social worker joined together experience and motivation to collaborate and co-operate in this project. This exchange is also allows for a serious relationship between different people of the world in full equality.
The project budget will be used in 90% for the salary of the social worker and 10% for works and paper for reporting the study.
Portfolio of the main community kitchen + 47 family portfolios who attend to the main kitchen
Portfolios of the 12 auxiliary community kitchens
The menu solidarity
Instructions to build an economic oven made of bricks
The map of General Rodríguez and location of the different community kitchens
The contract of prestation of social service