What holiday traditions does your family have around a meal? Consider adding a recipe that gives back this year!
Check out a recipe suggestion that was inspired by a boy in Ecuador who chose his sponsor this fall.
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I met Bruno in Ecuador this past September. He’s 7, the middle child of three with an older brother and a younger sister. They and their single mom live with her parents, and she doesn’t work because she takes care of them full-time.
He loves soccer and doing homework, and he has a dog named Rambo.
On the day I met him, Bruno chose me to be his sponsor.
I was in the room when he went up to choose the photo of the sponsor he wanted, but when he walked toward my photo, I quickly ducked outside. He didn’t know I was there, and I didn’t want to influence his choice if he recognized me from the picture. After he went through the next few rooms — getting his photo taken, writing a letter to me, etc. — I had a chance to sit down with him and his mom, Maribel.
We connected first about our dogs. My wife and I have a Husky–Great Pyrenees mix, and I had brought Bruno a stuffed animal that looks like our dog. Bruno had been surprised that I was there and a little unsure about this unexpected visit, but the stuffed animal was a game-changer. His face brightened — his uncertainty melting away — and he took the stuffed animal while I showed him pictures of our dog on my phone. Then Bruno told me about his dog, and we were fast friends.
Bruno’s mom had plenty to tell me, too.
Maribel wanted me to know more about Bruno — that he does well in school, that he’s thoughtful and caring. She told me about their family situation and Bruno’s siblings. And then she told me about his health.
Bruno is 7, but very small for his age. He looks maybe 5. Maribel explained that he has a severe calcium deficiency, which sometimes causes seizures, and he is seeing doctors to help treat it. This detail is why he’s small for his age, and why Maribel can’t work, because caring for Bruno takes so much of her time.
I was nodding as she told me these details through a translator, but I was having a hard time picturing this thoughtful, happy boy in front of me having seizures. I didn’t want to imagine that; I didn’t want it to be true. Maybe the doctors’ treatment was already helping.
But then I remembered that I was there because they needed support. Bruno had chosen me. So I am going to write to him and pray for him and send special gifts. And through that support and our incredible staff in Ecuador, I have hope that Bruno will get the help he needs.
Throughout my weeks in Ecuador visiting World Vision’s programs, I saw again and again that access to the right nutrition is a common challenge for kids. They might be able to get enough quantity of food, but that doesn’t mean they’re getting the balance of nutrients they need to grow up healthy.
World Vision is teaching parents about nutrition, how to cook for their kids with ingredients that will give them the balance they need, and even how to plant gardens that will provide those foods.
I don’t know if Bruno’s calcium deficiency is a diet and nutrition problem or something else. But knowing that a lack of nutrition is a common challenge for kids in Ecuador, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were connected.
In all likelihood, I will never have the opportunity to cook for Bruno. But on this trip, I was traveling with three food bloggers, so I started to wonder: If I did get the chance to cook for him one day, what would I make? I looked up foods that are naturally high in calcium and came up with this baby kale salad!
Baby kale salad
- Baby kale
- Beans (white beans have the most calcium)
- Sardines or canned salmon. I made one plate with each. These kinds of canned fish have edible bones, which is where the calcium comes from!
- Roasted almonds
- I also threw in soybean nuts
- Your favorite kind of sesame dressing
- Toasted sesame seeds
From this list of ingredients, I added up the nutrition labels’ daily values percent for calcium, and this recipe comes to 94%. I’d like to think that this dish would help Bruno grow up healthy.
A holiday meal that makes a difference
Many of us experience the holidays through food and have favorite memories associated with those family traditions. What if you started a new tradition with your family this year through a holiday meal?
You could begin by adding a new dish to your meal — maybe a side dish like a calcium-rich baby kale salad?!? Then tell your family why you added this recipe and what it means.
There are many food-related ways to give through World Vision’s Gift Catalog. Choose the one that inspires you, feature it in your holiday meal, and give back as part of your family tradition!
Here are a few other ideas from the food bloggers who traveled with us in Ecuador:
- Mary Younkin: Fruit nut bark
- Meseidy Rivera: Puerto Rican fried rice
- Rebecca Lindamood: Pumpkin cheesecake milkshake
You can also sign up to be chosen. When we posed for the photo at the top of this post, Bruno hugged me as hard as he could. I am the sponsor he wanted, the one he chose. By having the power to choose me, Bruno knows that the choices he makes in his life can make a difference.
He owns his future.
And I get to be a part of it.