Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scholarship Meetings and Political Change: May and June, 2015

The topic of discussion in our recent scholarship meetings has been the unearthed corruption scandals and the surge in political protests in Guatemala.  Since April the news and social media have been full of corruption scandals and calls for the resignations of the highest in the Guatemalan government.  Thus far the scandals have included the SAT (tax office), IGSS (social security), and corrupt judges.  The peaceful protests continue all over the country, demanding electoral and political party reform.  With elections this September, it is a historical moment in Guatemala.

Given the political and social importance of the protests, resignations, and possible reforms, we have discussed the current events during our scholarship meetings in Chirijquiac, San Juan Ostuncalco, Xeabaj, and Llanos del Pinal.

Scholarship families during the June meeting at Pop Wuj

A few of the mothers in the Chirijquiac group
For a recap of the uncovered corruption, the resignations, and the protests, please visit: http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/latest-guatemala-corruption-scandal-may-lead-to-president-resignation

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

El Programa de Nutrición

Puede encontrar la traducción a español abajo. 

Text and photos by Jessica Franks

In addition to the Pop Wuj clinic and mobile clinics, Pop Wuj also has a nutrition program in three communities surrounding Xela (Llanos del Pinal, Buena Vista, and La Victoria).  We visit each community on a monthly basis.

Although many of the babies are none too pleased with the weighing and measuring aspect (muchas gritas!), we track their height, weight, and head circumference to assess their nutrition and growth. We monitor the children's health until they are two years old, and the majority of our nutrition babies in the program have "graduated" with a healthy weight, height, and head circumference.

After the weighing and measuring is complete, the mothers and children gather around to listen to an educational talk often led by Carmencita, a Pop Wuj director and head of the Social Work Program.

The topics vary each week, including prevention of adolescent pregnancy, physical and environmental factors of malnutrition, healthy family planning, and many more. After the educational talk, the group receives a cup of Incapirina (a fortified beverage) and a banana. Each child then receives an individual consult with one of the Guatemalan doctors and is prescribed either NutriButter, Mani-Plus, or Plumpi-Nut, in addition to any other necessary medications.

Below are some pictures taken at Llanos del Pinal's nutrition program, as well as some of the nutritional supplements we distribute.

Carmencita teaching the dangers of adolescent pregnancy

Mothers and babies in Llanos del Pina

The mothers enjoy learning and attending the program with their babies

Nutributter and Mani-Plus packets

El Programa de Nutrición
Además de la clínica Pop Wuj y clínicas móviles, Pop Wuj también tiene un programa de nutrición en tres comunidades de alrededor Xela (Llanos del Pinal, Buena Vista, y La Victoria). Visitamos cada comunidad una vez al mes.

Aunque muchos de los bebés no están muy contentos con el aspecto de peso y medición (muchos gritos!), tomamos notas de su altura, peso, y circunferencia de la cabeza para evaluar su nutrición y crecimiento. Monitorizamos la salud de los niños hasta que tengan dos años de edad, y la mayoría de nuestros bebés del programa de nutrición se han "graduado" con un peso, una altura, y  una circunferencia de la cabeza saludables.

Después de hacer la medición y el peso, las madres y los niños se reúnen a escuchar una charla educativa a menudo dirigido por Carmencita, una directora de Pop Wuj y jefe del Programa de Trabajo Social.

Los temas varían cada semana, incluida la prevención del embarazo adolescente, factores físicas y ambientales de la desnutrición, la planificación familiar saludable, y muchos más. Después de la charla educativa, el grupo recibe una taza de Incaparina (una bebida fortificada) y un banano. Cada niño recibe entonces una consulta individua con uno de las médicas guatemaltecas y se prescribe Nutributter, Maní+ Plumpy’Nut, además de otros medicamentos necesarios.

Abajo hay algunas fotos sacadas en el programa de nutrición de Llanos del Pinal, además de algunos de los suplementos nutricionales que distribuimos.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Un Día de la Vida......A Day in the Life (of a Pop Wuj Medical Spanish Student)

Text and photos by Jessica Franks

The Pop Wuj clinic was busy as usual this past week. The summer months bring large groups of hard-working medical students, and the patients are forever grateful for their dedication. Below are a few photos of recent students in triage and pharmacy at the Pop Wuj clinic.

Don't worry, they still have some time to enjoy all of the sights and activities Xela  has to offer. On Saturday, June 7 a group of students accompanied Alberto, a Pop Wuj teacher, to Laguna Chikabal. The following Sunday was the playoff game for the Xela women's futbol (soccer) team. Unfortunately they lost in overtime to Guatemala City, but it was a great game and we cheered as loud as we could for Xela!

Preparing meds in the pharmacy.  
Students use the Timmy Global Health System's electronic medical records system to fill prescriptions. 
Current students are always helpful to the incoming med students each week. On the job training at its best!
At the triage station, students monitor patients' vital signs before sending them into consults.
Quick break at the pharmacy for a photo op!

Saturday fieldtrip to the beautiful Chikabal....
Still smiling despite the steep incline!

With Alberto as our fearless leader

Some ceremonial floral arrangements on the sacred lake.

Sunday brought a tough loss to the Xela women's soccer team in the final game against Guatemala City. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Time in Xela: Reflections from Johanne

Text and pictures by Johanne Annesdatter Olesen

I am Johanne from Norway and I just came back home from my nine months in Guatemala. I travelled a bit in Central America but I had at least seven months in Xela, working and studying at Pop Wuj.  Here are some of my thoughts about Pop Wuj and all of their projects.

When I first came to Pop Wuj in September, 2014 I started in the Social Work Spanish Program, so I helped Carmencita with the Family Support Center, the beca project (scholarship project) and the nutrition project.  I fell in love with all the kids and everything with the little house in Llano del Pinal. So after a short time I switched to the Regular Spanish Immersion Program so I could use every afternoon visiting the kids, helping out with activities, or planning the next celebration or activity.

Piñata birthday fun at the Family Support Center

During my first 2-3 months I also joined the Safe Stove Project every week.  It made me realize how in need the whole community is and how small things--just one morning for the students--helps so much for a family of 10 people.  I was so happy and so proud after building my first stove.  It was incredible that I made that by myself, with my bare hands (of course with a lot of help from the amazing Carmelina and two other students) but it felt like I could do anything. That I could take on the world.  Some bricks, cement, and clay have never looked so beautiful.

Stage 3 of the Safe Stove building process

That evening it hit me that this is not a new painting or a new couch that the family is going to show to everyone, brag about, and invite friends to come and look at. They are going to feed their family with this stove, try to give them the nutrition they need, try to cover the really basic needs to survive.  With the stove we hope to decrease accidental burns and respiratory problems which can leave children with asthma and lungs like an old person.  This day I really understood how important it is to help, just a little bit, if you can.  And then I decided to stay as long as I could in Xela.

As I mentioned earlier, the Family Support Center really took my breath away and it will always have a special place in my heart.  The love and the happiness and the hugs and laughter that greet you at the Family Support Center is something special.   At the same time they are focused and they do their homework so they can go out and play with the other kids during recess.  If it was raining it was dripping from the roof but the kids just pushed the tables away from the drops and continued working.  It is hard to describe if you haven’t been there and haven’t seen it, but there is such a kindness and warmth in that house that you can’t find anywhere else.

The full group on my last day at the Family Support Center

For a long time the kids had all my attention, but before Christmas I was introduced to a girl named Rosario and things changed.  She has something called brittle bones (huesos de crystal) or extreme osteoporosis.  She can’t move around and she is in her bed 24/7.  I started visiting her once a week. We had a lot of fun, playing games, talking, painting, reading and she always asked me when I was coming the next time.  Towards the end I started seeing her twice a week and we became good friends.  Getting to know Rosario helped me to appreciate what I have and how I should enjoy the things I can do, every day.  Rosario is always happy, she is always smiling, laughing, talking and she is so intelligent.  We played cards and she was way a head of me, making her plan to win, sorting out a strategy, and laughing.  Of course she would win. We are around the same age (19-20 years old), which is obvious quickly after talking to her.  After watching her and seeing her potential, we (Carmencita at Pop Wuj, Amy, and I) organized more formal classes with one of the teachers at Family Support Center so she can continue to learn and develop.

Rosario with her niece and nephew

Rosario playing a memory game
These experiences and getting to know la gente más amable (the kindest people) are the reasons why you should not be surprised if you se me walking around in Xela again very soon.

In the end I really want to thank the woman behind the scenes, Amy.  She has helped me so much with all my questions.  Thank you!  You are a great support and help for young people like me that haven’t travelled so far and for such a long time away from home.  The school needs you.

Pop Wuj is a great place to learn Spanish, and to see and experience thing you couldn’t elsewhere.  They have a great diversity of smart teachers with all kinds of information. History, politics, the situation in Guatemala and the world, economy, the indigenous people, Spanish-- you name it.  They have lectures and they have activities and they have wisdom.  Thank you Xela, thank you Pop Wuj, and see you very soon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Timmy Brigade with Butler University

Text and photos by Jessica Franks (except as noted)

We achieved another successful Timmy Global Health brigade with the help of Butler University. We were fortunate to have Dr. Meg back with us for this brigade.  We loved seeing her and her family back in action at Pop Wuj.  The brigade happened during the week of May 18 - 22, and we traveled near and far to the towns of Llanos del Pinal, Xeabaj II, Pujujil, Buena Vista, and our very own Pop Wuj clinic in Xela.

The students and faculty from Butler University had endless amounts of energy throughout the week. Their hard work and compassion were much appreciated by more than 200 patients which we saw over the course of one week! To learn more about Timmy Global Health and the international impacts of these brigades click here.

Day 1 in Llanos del Pinal, and the Butler students are ready for the big week ahead. 

Doctora Carmen Rosa welcomes the students and gives them an overview of the community.

Students discreetly work in some health education while coloring with the children.

Dr. Meg returned to Pop Wuj for the brigade and provided excellent care to her very captivated patient. 

Teaching the children the importance of hand washing.

And providing fluoride treatments to the children of each community.  

As always, the children adored Edmundo!

A patient in Pujujil receiving her first pair of glasses. 

Students first triage the patients, in which they measure their heights, weights, and vital signs.  
Triage on Friday in Xela. Photo by Amy Scheuren.

A quick stretch break at the farmacia.

Outside the clinic the children were enjoying themselves in the sunshine. 

Another captivated audience.  

The children were just as excited for the brigade as the Butler students. 

Everyone likes to fly, no matter what country you come from!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

El Día del Árbol

Guatemala celebrated Arbor Day on May 22.  We recognized the day with a little bit of tree education and planting.  Because it's just the beginning the rainy season, the land isn't ready for large reforestation projects, however, we planted ten trees at the homes of three Family Support Center families.  The families will care for and tend the seddlings until the rains really start.

Approximately a dozen of Pop Wuj students and teachers headed out to Llanos del Pinal with 10 seedlings, including white pine, cipres, alder birch, and eucalyptus. 

First we talked about the types of trees we would plant today.
We talked about the trees and their uses.  Many of the children and teachers told us that they use the trees as medicinal plants.

Walking toward the homes where we would plant

Oscar, very proud of his white pine seedling

Amy and Amy planting the first tree of the day

Ismael watering the seedling

Guayo with his seedling

Planting another white pine

Chipping in to plant a cipres seedling

Planting an alder birch