Friday, May 30, 2014

The Vegetable Garden--Growing Again!

Another big outdoor project--the vegetable garden--was worked on in May. 

Along with brothers Edmundo and Hugo, Jack, and Gustavo, several Family Support Center kids tilled and prepared the garden for vegetables. We decided to plant chard, radishes, red beets and onions.

Rebuilding the beds

 Jack, Edmundo, Hugo, and a few of the kids cleared the soil of rocks and garbage.

Jack, Edmundo, and Hugo after finishing the prep

The following day Jack and Carmelina traveled to Almolonga to buy the starts and seeds.  We grow radishes from seed, but bought plantitas of chard, red beets, and onions to transplant to our garden.

Seeds, starts, and the prepped beds

Jack and Gustavo, a teacher at the Family Support Center, organized a work party among Family Support Center participants and planting was completed right before the Mother’s Day celebration. Now the rains will water the garden and we expect to have fresh, healthy vegetables for the children in the near future.

Big sisters make the best supervisors

Many of the kids were very excited upon learning of the continuation of the vegetable garden. It will tended for with care by everyone.

Gustavo, helping some of the kids plant chard.

The food produced by the vegetable garden will offset the food budget for the Family Support Center.  Monday-Friday the Family Support Center serves a hot lunch and two snacks to 41 children and youth.  Food is the second largest item in the Family Support Center budget, totaling approximately $9,200 USD per year.  To donate to the Family Support Center, please visit Foundation Todos Juntos.

Chard and red beets in the ground!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jornada Médica! Another successful medical brigade with Timmy Global Health

Last week saw other successful Timmy Global Health medical brigade visiting Pop Wuj and many of our beneficiary communities. The brigade from Butler University in Indiana, consisted of five qualified doctors, two pharmacists, four translators, and a hoard of eager helpers from many different pre-med backgrounds. Also contributing to its success where many of Pop Wuj’s own highly competent Medical Spanish students!

The brigade managed to distribute extremely valuable medical care to around 385 patients, in five impoverished communities, involving three Mayan languages, across two different departments of Guatemala, Many of these patients would have no access to any form of health care without the outreach of Pop Wuj and the assistance of Timmy Global Health.
Dr. Hugo and Ashley with a couple of patients and Timmy volunteers.

Throughout the week patients were treated for everything from sore muscles to severe mastitis, from cataracts to ovarian cysts, from liver disease to diabetes, amongst countless other aches, pains and illnesses.

The brigade began its week on Monday in our very well-known community of Llanos del Pinal. There they managed to see around 75 patients, many of whom are or have been involved in many of our other projects including, the Family Support Centre, safe stoves, environmental projects, scholarships, and nutrition. Thus maintaining and strengthening not only the health of the patients but also the existing links and relationships.

Xeabaj elementary school come medical clinic.
Tuesday we headed to the K'iche speaking Xeabaj in Sololá. As many in Xeabaj so not speak nor understand Spanish, we had to bring along another 11 additional translators to translate K'iche to Spanish, before it could be translated to English for the doctors. Despite these extra difficulties the day was once again extremely successful, assisting around another 80 patients.

Wednesday saw the brigade return to the department of Sololá, where they knocked out another 80 odd patients in the Kaqchikel community of Pujujil.

Timmy group unloading the vans before a busy day of clinic.

Thursday they were in Buena Vista the Mam-speaking community not too far from Xela. There they worked in the house/midwifery center of Doña Ana, a long-time partner of Pop Wuj. As always this was an especially busy day, treating over 90 patients.  However we have a strong group of nine Pop Wuj students from the medical program adding their medical expertise to the organised chaos that are the Timmy Medical brigades.

The ever busy pharmacy

On Friday the busy week was wrapped with an expanded clinic in Xela.  The group left Xela, worn out, but all with great big smiles and leaving behind many healthier patients.

Thanks to everyone who made this past week such a huge success!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

A couple weeks ago, the Family Support Center had their annual Mother’s Day gathering. Once again it was a hilarious, fun-filled day of love and appreciation for all the great mothers out there. 

Unfortunately mom number 1, Carmencita, could not make it for the celebration, so it was left in the hands of her trusty compañeras.

The day started a little behind schedule because on arrival all the moms headed straight to the kitchen help make all the tamales for the cena (dinner) later on. And no matter how much one tried you couldn't drag them out until all were made. It really does prove there are just no rest days for the ever hardworking mothers in Llanos del Pinal. Once we finally got the ball rolling, it was full speed ahead.

We started with some lovely words from Gustavo, followed by a gorgeous chicken dance and song from the little ones. We had some emotional words (sign language) from Damaris. A dramatic and very comical dramatization by the middle aged kids was followed up by a dance by the older girls. Afterwards it was the mothers turn for some lighthearted fun, and thus began the competitions. As always, a few required a fair bit of encouragement to get involved, but once up, you couldn't stop them laughing and joking. We had the egg beating competition, the drink chugging, the balloon popping, the tail pinning, and the lemon and spoon race (a new take on an old favorite) amongst others. Very surprisingly, every mother happened to win a prize!

Once we had all calmed down from the activities, the kids presented their mums with presents, cards, and great big hugs, before we settled down for a lovely meal of pepian chicken and of course those hard-earned tamales. Another lovely Mother's Day complete!

Happy Mother’s Day to all!!

Kung Fu at the Family Support Centre!

In March/April this year, the Family Support Centre was lucky to have the help of volunteer Chris Wallace who was also a Pop Wuj Social Work Spanish student.  On his last day as a volunteer, he treated the kids to a Kung Fu class.

Getting started

Everyone headed outside to enjoy a Kung Fu class in the sun

The opening of and welcoming to the Kung Fu class:
Chris managed to have all the kids' (and adults'!) undivided attention.

The welcoming included shouting out 'Merry Christmas' and
'Happy New Year' with the point being that everyday should be revered as a celebration.

The class started with some stretching of the arms...

And moved on to leg stretching...

Followed by some lunges...

And even deeper lunges...

After the stretching, everyone was warmed up enough to start doing some Kung Fu kicks.
Here the kids are watching Chris's demonstration and lining up to prepare to try it themselves.

Kung Fu kicking in action

The kids loved the class and even had a few laughs.

The kids enjoyed trying out other Kung Fu moves as well.

After the class, Chris gave a demonstration which the kids stood back and watched in awe.

It was great to get the kids out and exercising and the kids loved the class.

Thanks for all your help Chris!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Safe Stoves: Fifteen New Families Will Receive Safe Stoves

Over the last few weeks Carmen de Alvarado, the Pop Wuj Social Projects and Social Work Program director, staff, and coordinators have been conducting in-home interviews for the Safe Stove Project.  The interview includes basic demographic information, family health and education details, as well as more open-ended questions about why a family wants a safe stove.

Before photo

Before Photo

Before Photo

Fifteen families from Llanos del Pinal have been selected to join the new stove group.  Many of these families also participate in Pop Wuj's Nutrition Program, thus they have babies and small children in the home.

Carmen welcomes the new group to Pop Wuj.

On Wednesday May 14th, community members came to Pop Wuj for the stove group meeting.  We met for several hours, discussing the health risks of open fires/smoke exposure, the environmental consequences of deforestation, cultural and historical aspects, and the logistical details of stove building.

Mynor discusses how the stove is built and the families' responsibilities.

Roney talks about cultural aspects and historical factors.

Respiratory illness is the leading cause of death in Guatemala (CDC).  Much of the respiratory illness can be attributed to regular exposure to open fires in the home.  Mothers and children are thus disproportionally affected by respiratory illness in Guatemala.

We talked about how safe stoves reduce smoke exposure, use far less firewood than an open fire, and reduce the incidence of accidental burns.  Some of our group members have suffered burns and many others have health problems associated with smoke inhalation.

Pop Wuj Medical Spanish students explain health problems that result from smoke exposure.

The Pop Wuj Medical Spanish students also addressed the problem of burning plastic.  Generally there is no waste management in rural Guatemala.  Llanos del Pinal is no exception.  Most families give organic waste to the livestock and burn the rest of the trash.  This trash includes plastic bags, bottles, and containers.  As such, adults and children are breathing in the fumes from the plastic.