Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Our mission is to improving the health, education and food security of families in Indigenous and rural communities in Latin America. We seek to strengthen vulnerable families by serving women and children, with an emphasis on Indigenous peoples in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala and other rural, coffee-growing communities in Latin America through integrated, school-based health & education programs. Pueblo a Pueblo was founded on the belief that meaningful and sustainable change requires the commitment and active involvement of the individual, community or organization that will benefit from that change. Pueblo a Pueblo strives to deepen values such as personal responsibility, se...
Feb 25, 2014

School Lunches and Gardens: Partners in Change

It
It's lunchtime!

In Guatemala, 51% of the population resides in areas where food insecurity and malnourishment rates are among the highest in the world. One such area is the Santiago Atitlán municipality, where people’s livelihoods often hinge on a single annual coffee harvest and there are few alternative options for generating income. Guatemala-based livelihood studies show that when savings begin to run out or food prices rise internationally, the first household items to go are fruits and vegetables. 

Due to lack of government support, NGOs often provide an important safety net in ensuring that students in rural communities have daily access to at least one balanced meal.

For us at Pueblo a Pueblo, this effort takes the form of our School Nutrition Project, which in 2013 provided daily nutritious lunches to 754 students in four elementary schools in Santiago. This cornerstone meal improves core cognitive functions and increases school attendance, as well as provides students with the nutrients they need to stay healthy and active.

Manuel Gonzalez, a teacher at Panabaj Elemetary School, affirms the value of the lunches, noting that “since we started the lunch project children are coming more frequently and paying more attention in school.”

But while these lunches are an essential ingredient in boosting educational performance and keeping the classroom full, safety nets only address short-term need. That’s why we aim to complement the School Nutrition Project with our Organic School Garden Project, which teaches students how easy it is to grow produce at home and incorporate nutrients into their diets.

Just in 2013 there were 169 days in which school communities consumed vegetables, fruit, and herbs produced right in their organic garden. Now, in 2014, we’re looking forward to introducing our School Nutrition Project to 80 more students in Tololyá elementary school, where over the past year students and teachers have cultivated a healthy garden filled with everything from lettuce, tomatoes, and onions to bananas, papaya, and chipilín. We’re excited to be a part of such a successful project and we’ll be sure to keep you all informed on our progress! 

A student and teacher help clean the garden
A student and teacher help clean the garden
Everybody helps out, no matter how small
Everybody helps out, no matter how small
Feb 18, 2014

Building a Culture of Support for Women

Vilma (far left) at a training with champions
Vilma (far left) at a training with champions

Pueblo a Pueblo’s Family Planning Champions (FPC) project, which is beginning its second year of implementation –  builds on our Maternal Child Health project by including local women in the dissemination of best practices in family planning and reproductive health.  We anticipate another exciting year of progress as we add 10 beneficiaries to our existing group in 2014. Also, now that staff is able to draw from lessons learned over the pilot year, we expect record growth in both community outreach and project efficacy.

Behind the scenes few people have put as much effort into the project as Wilma Mendoza Sosof, Pueblo a Pueblo’s standout social worker. Starting with a series of home interviews with potential participants, she recruits the most willing and able women around Santiago to be the project’s new champions for family planning. Her leadership in a four-day intensive course on the benefits of family planning and female reproductive health – provide knowledge that these women will later transmit to their peers by way of informal monthly meetings in their communities.

These monthly meetings serve to open dialogue on issues like spousal communication, reproductive health, family planning, sexually transmitted diseases and strategies on how to avoid them. In addition, each champion is tasked with identifying five new women for the FPC project each year; in this way, the scope of the project grows organically.

According to Wilma, “although we have faced some challenges, for example initial lack of female participation, machismo culture, and a widespread belief that bigger families are better, we are now seeing real success. Both women and men are participating, and through their engagement they are building a strong understanding of these issues.”

“And in 2014,” she finishes, “it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  When we started last year nobody wanted to participate, and now our levels of interest and participation are increasing rapidly. It’s exciting to think where we might be at this point next year.” 

One of our champions
One of our champions
Vilma leads a session
Vilma leads a session
Jan 15, 2014

The Right to Read

Over the past three years we’ve been proud to help build a reliable community resource in the Chukmuk Elementary School Library. Students, teachers, and parents now have weekly access to a fully equipped library and services that include book lending, literacy activities, and summer vacation literacy camp. In a region that struggles with chronic illiteracy, resources like these are a way for students to start along a path to better jobs and more economic opportunity.

In the coming year, we’ll be expanding our Pathways to Literacy Project to Chacayá, another rural community with which we’ve built a strong bond over the past several years.

 Most of the students who attend the Chacayá Primary School come from families that depend entirely on coffee farming as a sole source of income. Even compared to the rest of our partner communities, living conditions in Chacayá can be dire. Stunting rates are among the highest we’ve seen; children often receive as little as one meal a day; and when the coffee-harvest ends economic activity in the community grinds quickly to a standstill.

Since 2006 we’ve introduced new projects into the local elementary school: Organic School Gardens, School Nutrition, Primary Education Scholarships, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in School.

Bringing Our Pathways to Literacy Project to Chacayá will create even more comprehensive support for resident children in need. Once we establish the library space, we will also lead workshops and provide individual training for teachers to ensure that the library is well managed and utilized.

 “We envision it becoming part of the fabric of the community,” says Montse, our Pathways to Literacy project manager. “Over fifty percent of the population in Chacayá is under 20. The future of this community lies with these children.”

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