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Reed’s Davis Projects for Peace Program Winner Planting Seeds of Hope in Ecuador


This summer, students from Reed College will work with schoolteachers in one of the poorest regions of Ecuador to help plant community gardens and construct greenhouses on school grounds. The rural province of Chimborazo is an agricultural region where 26 percent of the indigenous Quichua population under the age of five suffers from malnutrition.


PORTLAND, OR (April 3, 2008) -- Robin Fink, a junior in Reed’s anthropology department, was awarded $10,000 by the Davis Projects for Peace program to begin the Ecuadorian Community Gardens Initiative. The project is based on the Edible Schoolyard curriculum that began in the Berkeley public school system in 1994. Unlike Berkeley’s educational goals, this effort aims to reduce the widespread malnutrition in Ecuador’s Chimborazo province. 

This summer, students from Reed College will work with schoolteachers in one of the poorest regions of Ecuador to help plant community gardens and construct greenhouses on school grounds. The rural province of Chimborazo is an agricultural region where 26 percent of the indigenous Quichua population under the age of five suffers from malnutrition. Forty-seven percent of the population has stunted growth.  

The province is 13,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains. The region faces many challenges in producing enough surplus food to meet the nutritional needs of the local population; a short growing season, land ownership, and the difficulty of getting the crops to distant markets.

“Malnutrition is very prevalent in the communities we work in,” said Fink.  “The communities consist primarily of subsistence farmers, growing richly nutritive crops such as quinoa, barley, habas beans, and potatoes. But they sell most of these goods to exterior markets to bring home money to their families. As a result, much of their food intake is lacking in protein and iron.”

The Davis Projects for Peace program gives Fink an opportunity to work with non-governmental organizations in Ecuador that are dedicated to finding long-term solutions in education, health care, and community infrastructure, such as Ayuda Directa International. Spanish for “direct help,” the group works closely with the underprivileged in Ecuador on improving basic quality of life.

The resources provided by the Davis Projects for Peace will help Ayuda Directa International in its commitment to achieving sustainable solutions to the malnutrition crisis in the region. “It’s one small, yet extremely, powerful step towards addressing social inequality,” said Fink.

The Reed student project is among projects at 81 colleges and universities in the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholar Program, which has distributed $1 million in total funding. The program, in its second year, honors philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, who launched the initiative on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2007. Designed to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century, each of the 100 projects will receive $10,000 in funding. Because of the achievements made by students in the summer of 2007, Mrs. Davis is continuing the Davis Projects for Peace for the summer of 2008.