Cooking Up a Little Love

By Kalis Parra, Dominican Republic Field Communications Specialist

Child Champions serve in many different ways at Hope Centers, but they all have the same goal — to care for, protect, and love the children in their communities. Today we’ll meet Ramona, a Child Champion who loves the children through her work in the kitchen.

Ramona Gomez says she felt a calling to serve meals to kids at the Hope Center.

Ramona Gomez is in charge of the kitchen at Rescatando los Ninos Hope Center in the Dominican Republic. When the Hope Center opened its doors 12 years ago, she heard that the church wanted to start serving the children of her community and she felt called to serve.

Ramona has been the one creating menus and preparing delicious and nutritious meals for the kids who attend the Hope Center weekly from the community of las Guaranas since then.

To make a living, Ramona sells new and used clothes from her house during the week, but she makes time for her service at the Hope Center because she knows it’s a calling.

“What motivates me to serve here are the children,” she says.

“They love my food. I’m a busy woman, I have my own business. I don’t have time to be here, but God called me to serve these children, and I feel blessed by doing it.

“Every moment I spend serving them and hearing how much they love what I cook for them is unforgettable and priceless to me.”

Why Nutrition Is Key

Good nutrition is key to the development of children in the early years and prevents child hunger. What they eat can play a big role in their future.

Hope Centers are committed to supporting the nutrition of every enrolled child. Some of the kids living in poverty come to the Hope Center hungry. On many occasions, the days they attend the Hope Center are the only days they receive a full breakfast and lunch.

A child at the Hope Center gets his breakfast.

That’s why Hope Centers make sure children receive healthful food full of the nutrients they need.

Child Champions know a lot of factors influence child development. In addition to educational and emotional support, children also need a healthful diet with all the nutrients that contribute to their cognitive processes and determine their ability to concentrate, have good memory, and learn well.

That awareness goes into Ramona’s careful meal planning.

Ramona’s Recipe

During my recent visit to Rescatando los Ninos Hope Center, Ramona showed me how to make one of the typical dishes Dominicans eat and also and one of the favorite meals of the children at the Hope Center. Why not try it at home?

Arroz Blanco y Berenjenas Asadas (White Rice and Roasted Eggplant)

Ingredients for White Rice: 

  • Rice
  • Oil
  • Salt


Heat a cast aluminum pot on the stove, add a little bit of oil and salt, then add 1.5 cups of water per cup of rice and let it simmer together covered with a lid for 25 minutes. Stir rice every 7 minutes so it cooks evenly.

Ingredients for Roasted Eggplant

  • Eggplants
  • Olive oil
  • Red onion, chopped
  • Bell peppers, chopped
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Garlic
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper (freshly cracked, or ground)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (or parsley, optional)


Put the eggplants directly on the fire on your stove (only if this is safe with your type of stove; please check your stove’s users’ manual first). When the side on the fire has blackened, turn and repeat until the entire eggplant has turned black.

Remove from the heat, place the eggplant in a bowl, and cover with a lid. Once cooled, remove and discard the peel and cut the ends with a knife. Using a cup, mash the eggplant as much or as little as you like. Set aside.

Heat oil over low heat in a skillet or pan. Add the onions and stir until they turn translucent. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook and stir for a minute. Add the eggplants and cook for 5 minutes.

I hope you and your family will enjoy this delicious Dominican meal as much as the kids at the Hope Center do!

Your donation to the OneChild Partners Fund will help us open Hope Centers in more places, so kids can experience the love of Child Champions like Ramona. Please give today.

Enjoy this video of Ramona making the roasted eggplant!

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