Friday, April 28, 2017

Spotlight on Nutrition Month

Text and photos by Emily Rempel

Throughout the month of March we invited you to share in the work of our Nutrition Program, offering the chance to view this project from a multitude of perspectives. First, we introduced you to the program by talking briefly about what it is that we do, why we need to do it, and how you can help. Take a look at the full Facebook post here.

Then we shared the words of our partner organization, Foundation Todos Juntos, who works with Pop Wuj to help raise funds for our various social projects. A call went out to Todos Juntos' network, as well as those following Pop Wuj, asking for help to continue running this vital project. In 2016 the costs associated with running the Nutrition Program grew significantly due to increased need for medical treatment including specialist care, medications, and baby and toddler follow-up visits. The reality is that this upward projection is expected to continue through 2017, which has certainly been the case over the first few months of this year. Foundation Todos Juntos offers an easy, secure way to make a tax-deductible donation online or via check.

Young Participants at a Nutrition Program Meeting in La Victoria

We then shared the stories of 14-month-old Eliseo and Elias, twins boys who quickly stole the hearts of the entire Nutrition team at Pop Wuj. Eliseo and Elias, both born prematurely, have spent their lives fighting a myriad of health problems and are both suffering from acute malnutrition. Recently the health of Elias took a scary turn for the worse and he had to be admitted into the hospital. Eliseo's health worsened in turn, due to the stresses of being separated from his mother and brother during their hospital stay. With the help of Pop Wuj's Nutrition Program, and the diligence of their parents, the health of the twins appears to be improving. That said, it will still be a long, hard struggle to support the growth and development of Eliseo and Elias. Read about their story here.

On the blog, Environmental Projects Coordinator Mary Gramiak delved into the complex question of why malnutrition is so pervasive in Guatemala. In her post she discussed issues such as the high cost of nutrient-rich food, environmental impacts on agriculture, and systemic discrimination against indigenous populations.

A young Participant in La Victoria playing a game of peek-a-boo with his truck

We were thrilled to share the Nutrition Program success story of Sheily and her mother Doña Eva. With the support of Pop Wuj and the diligence of Doña Eva, Sheily went from being "especially small and fragile" to being happy, healthy, and able to engage in the world with the curiosity expected of an energetic 2-year-old. Read more about Sheily and Doña Eva in our Facebook post.

Following Mary's blog post about the root causes of malnutrition in Guatemala, I wrote a post about the short-term and long-term effects of malnutrition. When a child experiences malnutrition during their vital years of development they risk stunted growth, weakened immune systems, delays to emotional and cognitive development, and lowered IQs. Within a system that already disproportionately discriminates against indigenous populations, the effects of malnutrition become compounded and cyclical. Our Nutrition Program aims to break these cycles.

A young Participant takes in the sights of our Nutrition Program in La Victoria

Our "farewell" to Nutrition Month post highlighted the generosity of our donors who supported us throughout March. We are so grateful to you for working with us in our life-changing Nutrition Program. Together, we will be able to help break the interconnected cycles of poverty and malnutrition for many children and their families in the department of Quetzaltenango. That said, we still need to raise about $11,000, or 33% of our annual budget. Although Nutrition Month has come to an end, our work continues, as does our need for continued support. A donation to our Nutrition Program will allow us to continue serving approximately 110 children per month - children like Eliseo, Elias, and Sheily. Donate today!

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