The Empowered Kitchen
San Nicolas is a rural community located about an hour and a half north of the city of San Miguel, El Salvador. Most of the 500 residents in San Nicolas have access to potable water and electricity, and there is one paved road that runs through the center of the community. Many men leave San Nicolas for the United States in search of better work. Those who remain in the community make their living in agriculture. Many women in San Nicolas are in essence single mothers, raising their families without regular income and dependent on remittances sent from family in the United States.
The San Nicolas women’s group has reached out to World Connect to partner on an income-generating project. Specifically, they would like to learn about different culinary traditions from around the world, and to build a small business around their newfound knowledge of preparing unique, diverse meals. Practically, the project will be a series of cooking classes devoted to different culinary traditions, with each class also providing an environment for the women of San Nicolas to learn about the lives of other women around the world and to discuss women’s rights. After the classes complete, the San Nicolas women’s group will organize an international cooking bazaar to showcase their project to their community. The event will be their first income-generating opportunity, and they plan to follow it up by selling food in the community and along the nearby main highway to San Miguel.
The women completed the cooking classes, which focused on Mexico, Italy, China, India, Morocco and El Salvador. Throughout each week, they learned about different cultures, religions, and women’s rights across the world. Male youth from the community joined the cooking classes, which is very unexpected as males in their community do not cook, seeing it as traditionally women’s work. In partnership with two other women's group, the women held an International Cooking Bazzar, where they made three different dishes and generated $200. The event, which had roughly 100 attendees from three different communities, gave the women an opportunity to organize a large community gathering and generate an income. In addition to food, the women created a museum style exhibit, which featured statistics, quotes and excerpts about women’s rights in the six highlighted countries. Due to the success of the event, the women will be organizing more community activities and events.
“I like that we do everything together and that we all have the opportunity to cook and talk during the presentations. I go home after class and teach my family all the new phrases in the other languages. I think we will be able to sell the food here, it is not hard to make and now we all know how to do it. I never knew that women around the world had such different lives than us, but I can see that all women have struggles.” – Yesina, Project Participant
“I have had a good time participating in the cooking classes and seeing how many different things I can cook for my family. I hope that after the classes end we can sell the food here in San Nicolas. We only were selling pupusas before but I think the people here will like to eat the food from China and Italy.” – Del Mira, Project Participant