Monday, January 15, 2001

In My Life


Trip to Honduras proves mothers' spirit universal

By Barbara Lattin

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Lattin
        As I sit in my kitchen, their words still echo in my mind. “If it is better for the children, it is worth the extra work.”

        That was the reply when I asked a group of mothers if they would be willing to change some of their recipes for the school lunch program. No begging, cajoling, or compromise was needed. Their cooperation and hospitality made my trip to a remote village in Honduras one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

        As a dietetic student at the University of Cincinnati, I had the chance to accompany a Shoulder to Shoulder medical group to a remote area of Honduras.

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        This non-profit organization has been providing medical services to the Santa Lucia area for 11 years. To help address the malnutrition found in the area, the organization began a school feeding program for the village of San Francisco in the area last spring.

        A kitchen was built at the school where volunteers can cook. Shoulder to Shoulder provides the food.

        My main task was to work with the mothers who volunteered. To increase the nutritional content of the students' lunches, we wanted to add soybeans to the corn tortillas. I was there to see if the cooks would be willing to change their recipe and to determine if the kids would eat the finished product.

        During informational meetings before my trip, I was told that the women wore dresses and skirts, but you can imagine my surprise when, upon arriving at the school I found four mothers dressed in beautiful suits and dresses that could be worn in any modern workplace. A colleague told me the women dressed this way for all social occasions.

        This may not seem like a big deal, except it was 95 degrees Farenheit, with at least 95 percent humidity and the cooking is done over an open-fire in an outdoor kitchen. Can you imagine referring to such hard work as a social occasion? The mothers prepare lunch for 174 students five days a week in their outdoor kitchen using two medium pots and limited utensils.

        The mothers were more than willing to try the new tortilla recipe. They were also willing to try soy patties.

        An informal taste test resulted in only one negative reaction for the tortilla and only positive responses to the soy patties. The new recipes would result in more work for them, but it was of no concern to these mothers.

        I credit this spirit of cooperation and good will to the wonderful partnership established between Shoulder to Shoulder and the village of San Francisco.

        I also credit motherhood. It doesn't matter where you go in the world, or how remote the location — mothers only want what is best for their children and no sacrifice is too big.

        Barbara Lattin, 45, is a mother of three and grandmother of two from Sharonville. She began her adventuresome bent by becoming a dietetic student at the University of Cincinnati after almost 10 years with Hasbro Inc. in market research. Having survived her travels and her academic pursuits Mrs. Lattin will receive her B.S. in March.

       



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