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Family raises turkeys to put food on the table

Doña Jesus and her children
Doña Jesus with her younger children, Jairon (left)
and Angela (right)

Gratitude. It's what Thanksgiving is all about, and it's what one mom, Doña Jesus, expresses when she talks about how her son's sponsorship helped restore her family's livelihood.

Doña Jesus said she started raising turkeys at her home in Guatemala seven years ago "out of the need to feed my children."

Her husband was a mason and couldn't work after a health condition left him without the use of one arm.

"Our family was left without a source of income," Doña Jesus said. "Things were so bad we were only able to eat once a day.

"My husband said, 'We have to do something, why don't we raise turkeys?' I don't know where he got this idea, but he was right. We had to do something."

Doña Jesus sold a small piece of land her father had given her. She used the money to get medical treatment for her husband and buy their first few turkeys, which quickly multiplied. Her son Diego became sponsored through Unbound about that time.

"Everything was going well and then my turkeys got sick and started to die," Doña Jesus said. "All of our turkeys died."

The family was discouraged but the local Unbound staff urged them not to give up.

"They gave us seven small turkeys for our monthly benefit and we started our business again," Doña Jesus said. "These seven turkeys grew and multiplied, and this has been my business ever since.

"Unbound also helped me by giving me food for my turkeys as part of our monthly benefits. But most importantly, they helped us by encouraging us to continue our business.

"Their support was very important for us to continue."

The family sells turkeys live or butchers them for meat. A full-grown, live male turkey is worth about $38 US while a female goes for about $20 US.

Guatemalan mother raises turkeys
Doña Jesus, with her son Jairon, tends to her turkeys.

Diego, 17, helps with the business on weekends. He grinds corn to feed the turkeys, gives the turkeys water and cleans their pen.

"They are very noisy but I like them because they are helping our family move forward," Diego said.

Diego enjoys his high school information technology classes and wants to go to college to become a computer systems engineer. He's grateful for the educational opportunities sponsorship affords him.

"It has given me the chance to continue my education and I thank my sponsor for that," Diego said. "I always do my best in school so that my sponsor can be proud of me.

"My good grades are the only way I can repay my sponsor for his kindness."

Doña Jesus, for her part, dreams of one day having a farm with thousands of turkeys and seeing Diego and her younger children complete their educations.

She also wants to share what she's learned. She belongs to an Unbound mothers group of 14 women who encourage and support each other, and she got a chance to give a workshop on raising turkeys to mothers in another community.

Doña Jesus gives thanks for such opportunities and for Diego's sponsor in Oregon.

"We always pray for our sponsor, and we thank him for encouraging us and especially Diego," she said.

Try Doña Jesus' turkey stew recipe.