by Carolyn Canouse
Comedor, when simply translated, is the Spanish word for Dining Room. While it may sound mundane, in Peru, it actually means so much more than a place you eat dinner on rare occasions! Comedor means a permanent building where volunteers prepare and serve low cost or free meals to their community, which the neighborhood must work together to organize and run smoothly. Volunteers not only provide an important service to their neighbors in need, but they get the benefit of healthy, free meals for their families as well.
You may be wondering: Who frequents a Comedor? On any given day, you'd see the elderly and the handicapped who are unable to travel far from home. You'll see countless children, whose parents work throughout the day, come and enjoy a hot meal provided by their friendly neighbors. You will see young families who may be having trouble getting ahead. Comedors provide a unique sense of community. Those who are able to pay for their meals give a small amount, but others are approved for free meals based on their situation. Comedors are just one way these Peruvian communities take care of each other in a dignified and beautiful way.
31 year old Ana has fond memories of the Comedor where she grew up in Ayacucho, Peru.
"That time for me was very beautiful, because even though we did not have much money, we had to eat every day. My mother was president of the Comedor, so I spent a lot of time there. Eventually our Comedor was able to buy more tables and chairs and we even had a television so that people could eat lunch and watch at least one program. There was always a little extra food that the mothers who cooked that day would take home for dinner. Honestly, a Comedor means so much to families and especially to children."
The pandemic opened Make a Miracle's eyes to the need for more Comedors in San Juan de Lurigancho. We were fortunate to connect with an amazing organization, The Sisters of Bon Secours, to get this new project started. They awarded us a grant to build (and stock!) 3 brand new Comedors. Within three months, all were built and up and running! A fourth Comedor was funded by a private donor with a passion for helping children: "I have read about the importance of good nutrition for children to be able to learn properly. My goal is to feed kids during their formative years so they can have a path out of poverty through education." For this private donor, Comedors are not just about filling bellies, but about fueling education for the younger generation.
The Peruvian communities where the Comedors were built could not have been more thankful. The Make a Miracle team recently brought supplies to each Comedor, presenting the items one by one.
"And here is your ladle."
"Ohhhhh!!! A LADLE!!!"
"And here is your teapot."
"Ohhhhhhhh," they would say in unison, "A TEAPOT!!!!"
Make a Miracle also gifted t-shirts to all four communities that fashioned this slogan:
Cooking Miracles since 2020; made with love (gray shirts pictured below).
We look forward to growing this program and bringing affordable meals to those who need them.
We also feel blessed to bring children nutritious dishes to feed their brains for a brighter future.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on funding a Comedor, and YOU can join US in making miracles in these communities!