Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nutrition Meetings, February 2014

Nutrition Thursdays: Pop Wuj Medical Spanish students, Social Work Spanish students, staff and coordinators visit Buena Vista and La Victoria for the monthly nutrition meeting on February 6th and Llanos del Pinal on February 13th. 

Pop Wuj med students hand out a snack to the babies from Llanos del Pinal
to keep them busy during the educational presentation.

This month the educational component focused on family planning. Med students and coordinators worked together to prepare a skit that was presented to K'iche' Mayan women in Llanos del Pinal and Mam Mayan women in Buena Vista and La Victoria. 

Women from La Victoria listening to the presentation 
The skit was divided into three small scenes. In the first scene the lead character "Maria" chats with her neighbour "Luz" about her family life. Maria is worried because she doesn't have enough breast milk for her baby and is very tired from caring for her other three children. Luz explains that her sister was in the same situation and chose to consult with her doctor who advised her about family planning. 
"Maria" and "Luz" in Llanos del Pinal 
In the second scene Maria visits her doctor, who advises her on various methods of contraception and explains the benefits of spacing out her pregnancies. There are many risks involved for Guatemalan women and infants when a mother gets pregnant while her last child is under 2 years old. For example, in the case of Maria, not having enough breast milk for her baby. In addition, there is a higher risk of prematurity.

In the context of Guatemala, children exposed to these risks have a higher chance of becoming malnourished. Currently in Guatemala 48% of children under 5 are malnourished. Moreover, the use of family planning will allow a family to conserve their economical resources enabling them to have more access to food and medical attention to prevent malnutrition. 

In the last scene Maria approaches her husband to educate him on the benefits of family planning. This is a tough conversation for many women to have with their husbands due to the cultural context. Given this, the educational component this month aims to encourage women to have this conversation with their husbands to raise consciousness on the benefits of family planning. As part of the presentation, Pop Wuj's local Guatemalan doctors gave a demonstration on the use of condoms. 

Pop Wuj doctors: Carmen Rosa and Sammy 
After the educational presentation, the nutrition meeting continued with measuring the length, weight, and head circumference of each baby. This information is recorded and each participant meets with one of the doctors for a monthly nutrition consult. The doctors need this information to determine whether a child is malnourished and to assess the progress of the babies who have begun the the Nutributter (fortified peanut butter supplement) treatment. 

Due to the large number of participants in the community of Llanos del Pinal, this month we also had med and social work students chat with all the women one on one to review the use of the Nutributter supplement and healthy eating behaviours for their babies. 

At the end of the meeting each woman received her monthly supply of Nutributter, Incaparina, pre-natal vitamins, and vitamins for any other young children in her family. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Safe Stove Project: Building Begins

The past three weeks many Pop Wuj students have volunteered their time to help out with construction of safe stoves on Wenesday mornings. 

Pop Wuj coordinators:Shanti & Dawn along with med students: Ben, Inge & Dan working on Stage 2

So far we have completed the construction of one stove and started the construction of four  more. The building process takes place in three stages. In the first stage, the base of the stove is built using cinder blocks and cement. 

In the second stage, three layers of bricks are added onto the base and are held together by cement and a mixture of clay "barro" and "panela" (unrefined whole cane sugar). 

Mynor (Safe Stove Expert & Pop Wuj Spanish Teacher) finishing up Stage 2
Here is Doña Michaela from Tierra Colorada Baja (a rural community outside of Xela). This was her cooking space before she received her safe stove. 

During Stage 3 the construction of the inside of the stove is completed and the "plancha" (metal stove top) is added along with the chimney. Cement is added on top of the last layer of bricks to firmly hold the plancha. It also gives the stove a great look! 

Here is a picture of the final product! Stage 3 is complete for Doña Michaela. She was the first to receive a stove this year! 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Safe Stove Project: Delivery of Materials January 2014

On Wednesday January 22nd stove materials were delivered to 10 homes in the community of Llanos del Pinal to prepare for the construction of safe stoves in the weeks to come.

First stop: picking up bricks and clay at Xela's local brick maker

The Safe Stove Project was created to combat respiratory illnesses caused by the constant interaction of cooking with open fires and deforestation due to increased consumption of firewood. Furthermore, this increases protection for children and minimizes the frequent accidents that can occur around an open fire in the home.

Pop Wuj volunteer coordinators, Spanish students, teaching staff, and safe stove beneficiaries worked hard all morning to deliver the materials.

Each home recieved 110 bricks, concrete blocks, clay, cement, metal parts to construct the chimney, and a "plancha" (stove top). 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Preparations for the opening of the Family Support Centre 2014

The last two weeks have been spent preparing for the inauguration of the Family Support Centre for 2014. 

A lot of effort has been made by personnel at the Family Support Centre, Pop Wuj students and Project Coordinators in ensuring that the classroom and equipment are all clean and freshly painted for the coming year.

Potentially dangerous rotting boards on the play equipment were replaced.

All this was achieved whilst Llanos del Pinal was without water for almost two weeks, delaying the opening of the Centre.  However, the water situation has now been resolved which enabled the children to return just two days later than anticipated.