Casa de Esperanza and the children


Elena and the Magic Beans is more than a children’s book.

It is a pleasure to know that Casa de Esperanza is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and that it’s celebrating it in a different manner, launching to the market a family book, designed to help children adapt to a new life in the US and learn how to express their emotions.

The book, Elena and the Magic Beans is an original concept based on an idea by Raul Sanchez, an 8 year old from the Twin Cities. The book is part of a package of tools created by Casa de Esperanza to help kids communicate with their parents and other adults within their family circle. Is a fully bilingual project, beautifully illustrated by local artists and Latino designers.

Elena and the Magic Beans tells the story of a girl, Elena, born and educated in Mexico City, with her parents and her younger brother, Juan. She has a very close relation with her grandfather, who represents the Traditions and family values. On occasions she joins her grandpa to visit the “Curandero”, part of the ancient Mexican traditions and during one of those visits, the Curandero gives her a bunch of magic beans with these words: “Whenever you feel feelings inside you, whether they are good or bad, take one of these beans and plant it. The bean plant will grow into a beautiful plant. And, if you feel bad, the plant will take away that feeling!”

Circumstances force the family to move to the US and leave their life behind. They move to Chicago and Elena feels lonely and confused. But thanks to the magic beans she learns how to overcome that loneliness and start a new relationship with her mother, sharing her feelings and looking for solutions together.

The story ends when Elena finally learns how to share her feelings without the magic beans and decides to give the magic beans to her brother, Juan, who is, having confusing feelings and feeling challenged by their new life in the US.

But, who is Casa de Esperanza?

I first learned of Casa de Esperanza several years ago, when I arrived in the Twin Cities. A close friend of mine found support and help at this organization and I was able to learn about them through her. Casa de Esperanza is a non-profit, devoted to empower Latino women and Latino families to fight domestic violence. It has a great variety of programs that help families and Latino women find a new life, away from domestic violence.

Elena and the Magic Beans is part of its family project and one that brings a breath of fresh air to our community and a very special tool for our children, in need of a way to express their feelings. It is part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of this organization and part of an effort that deserves applause.

Casa de Esperanza was founded in St. Paul, Minnesota, back in 1982 and has become a shelter for thousands of people since it opened up its doors. Its 25 people staff is a clear sample of what diversity means and includes a wide array of experts from different nationalities in Latin America as well as the US. It has a network of over 150 volunteers from the community and has done an outstanding job under the lead of Lupe Serrano, its Executive Director and Margarita Rubalcava, Chair of the Board of Directors.

Launching Elena and the Magic Beans

A different project deserves a different launch strategy and Casa de Esperanza chose a great one. Mexican Consul in St. Paul, Nathan Wolf, joined Casa de Esperanza staff and board members on the launch of the book at the Midtown Global Market on Friday, July 13th, 2007. It was a brief and sober ceremony which included a storytelling time by Consul Nathan Wolf to the children.

A second launch, this time including Senator Patricia Torres Ray as the key speaker, took place on Saturday, July 14th, 2007, at Minneapolis Central Library. Senator Torres Ray had the pleasure to be part of the Storytelling time that afternoon and read the story to the children at the library.

If you want to learn more about this fantastic project, you can contact Casa de Esperanza or call 651-646-5553