Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meeting with the mothers of San Juan

Today Carmen and our projects coordinator visited the mothers of the scholarship recipients of San Juan (a community near Xela). While the general goal of the meeting was to ask about the progress of the scholarship recipients and hand out the scholarships, part of our scholarship program meeting with and encouraging the mothers of the scholarship recipients. School is only obligatory for six years in Guatemala- through primary school. However, many children do not even attend school for the minimum of six years. Today Carmen talked to the women about the importance of of mothers encouraging their children to go to school.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nutributter; January 19

Last week, we visited our NutriButter families in Buena Vista and La Victoria - moms who have been participating for about 6 months in the program.  As always, we both brought new vitamin and NutriButter supplies and a lesson to improve the mother's knowledge about good nutrition's positive impact on the body.  
This week we focused on the connection between malnutrition and infection, a dangerous cycle that can result in not only continual sickness, but stunted grown and poor development.  While the topic was both difficult to explain and of quite grave content, the level of participation was higher than we'd seen before.  The moms were laughing, chatting, and fully engaging with the material we presented.  With this kind of positive change, we hope that with continued visits and increased comprehension sustainable change will be made for these families' food intake.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

25th of January

Our volunteers completed the third and stage of the stove building process today at the house of Doña Guadelupe Tloc and her family. The volunteers spent the morning making cement and a clay mixture to add the final levels of bricks before installing the metal stove top. At the same time, the volunteers also had to place and position a chimney through a hole that had already been established in the roof. 
A photo of the completed stove

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome back to the Guardería!

Today at the Guardería we celebrated the return of all of the students and the start of their new school year. As you may have read in previous posts, the Guardería is more than a place for the children to stay during the day in order to keep them off the streets. Additionally, the purpose of the Guardería is not only to provide assistance with school work. Volunteers also work to enhance the emotional well-being of the children of the Guardería. This week proved to be no different!

Upon arriving at the Guardería the volunteers happily welcomed all of the chicos. The youth of the Guardería are always excited to see our volunteers and gave us a warm welcome. After greeting all of the children, the volunteers separated los grandes (age 11-18) for a reflection activity. The goal of the volunteers was to enable the students to covertly express their fears and feelings about school. As we have discovered, students in this age range have trouble speaking openly about how they feel. One of our volunteers, who has a degree in psychology, developed an activity in which the students wrote a letter of advice to a student entering the grade they had just completed. In this letter, our students wrote about the fears they had at the beginning of the year, studying tips for the new student, and the new goals they have set for themselves based on their experiences in the grade they had just completed. We read some of the answers out loud to all of los grandes (anonymously, of course) to demonstrate that many of the students have similar fears and that expressing these fears in a healthy manner can be helpful for everyone to hear.

For los medianos (age 7,8-11), our volunteer created a similar experience suited to their age range. Five questions addressing students fears and excitement about school were written on a ball which was passed from student to student. Upon receiving the ball, the student had to answer the question closest to their hands. By making the activity a game, the students shared more openly than if they were asked questions directly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stoves, 18th of January, 2012

In this photo, one of our students, Max, is sawing a brick in half so that the group can alternate bricks over the three levels of bricks that are established in stage 2.

Today, with 10 volunteers, we were able to split into two teams and work on two separate stoves. The houses that we worked at belonged to Doña Guadalupe and Doña Delia.

In this picture, on of our students, Lindsay, is soaking bricks in order to force the air out of the bricks.

At the first house, the house of Doña Guadalupe, our team of volunteers worked on the second stage of stove building. The second stage involves adding three levels of bricks onto the initial stage. These bricks are secured with a mud mixture and cement.

At our second house, the house of Doña Delia, our volunteer team completed the first stage of the stove was completed. The first stage involves securing a cement blog base on which to mount the rest of the stove.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nutributter project

Over the last two weeks before Christmas, Pop Wuj has launched it's second group of NutriButter families.  Women and children from Llanos, Chiriquiac, Buena Vista, and Tierra Colorada - all nearby rural communities with high poverty levels - arrived at Pop Wuj on Friday December 9th to a room full of crying babies, excited children, and curious mothers.  As before, Pop Wuj asked mothers with children between 6 and 20 months to engage in a nutrition education and supplementation program, funded by Timmy Global Health.  

After the initial welcome meeting explaining the ins and outs of NutriButter to the moms and families, Jess Reichard, Dona Lidia, one of the hard working Guarderia teachers, and Dona Lety, a member of the first round of NutriButter families and the resident handy lady of Pop Wuj walked for hours from home to home handing out more NutriButter, children's vitamins, and making sure the supplement and program was going smoothly.  These home visits are not only to make sure everyone has enough NutriButter to get through the holidays, but also to start building a relationship of trust and learning between the moms and Pop Wuj volunteers.  The stronger the relationship, the more potential impact the nutrition program can have in its target communities. 

From here on out, a couple of long term Pop Wuj volunteers will teach monthly classes at the Guarderia, the most central location for this group generally from Llanos and Tierra Colorada.  Each meeting will cover a new topic of nutritional interest - from supplementary feeding to the nutrition-infection cycle.  As babies age out, more will be invited to join the group, ideally continuing to grow the area of impact of this supplement/education program.