Inter-American Health Alliance

Through a rights-based, inclusive approach to health care IAHA fosters cross-sector collaboration and provides financial and technical support to establish self-sustaining Guatemala-based community health projects serving neglected populations.
Jul 24, 2014

2014 Primeros Pasos Updates

Dental Education
Dental Education

So far, 2014 has been a great year for Primeros Pasos! We are grateful for your continued support and proud to present our 2014 updates!

UPDATE ON STAFF CHANGES

2014 has been a year of many exciting staff changes for Primeros Pasos.

In March 2014, we welcomed our new Development Director, Clinic Director, and Volunteer Coordinator Jamie De Guzmán Pet to the Primeros Pasos team. Jamie is originally from San Diego, California and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development and Spanish from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2010. At UCLA, Jamie was involved in various organizations centered on Global Health, Human Rights, AIDS/HIV Awareness, and UNICEF. After university, Jamie worked in Madrid, Spain for two years. In January 2014, Jamie joined Primeros Pasos as a Child Health Educator and was soon offered the position of General Clinic Director, Development Director and Volunteer Coordinator. Since Jamie took on these positions, Primeros Pasos has focused on quality management and implementing strategies for self-sustainability.

We also welcome our new Doctor, Doctora Evelyn Mariana Sum Flores, who joined our clinic at the beginning of July. We are happy to have her in the clinic, and look forward to the high quality of medical care that she will bring to the residents of the Palajunoj Valley. In addition, we were joined this June by our new Nutritionist, Licenciada Scarlet María de los Ángeles Samayoa Ríos. She has been working hard to improve the Nutritional Recuperation program and make sure that mothers enrolled in the program are receiving the support they need. Our previous nutritionist, Licenciada Crisálida Susana Menchú Tacam, has joined our Board of Directors and will continue to provide her wisdom and experience to Primeros Pasos. We also had our new Fundraising Director, Lukas Riha, join us this May. Lukas will help us implement important plans to increase our organization’s financial sustainability. Lastly, Primeros Pasos welcomed our new Education Director, Licenciada María Caniz Hernàndez, at the end of 2013. María Caniz has been a great asset to our education program, and brings over 20 years of experience as an educator to her position. She is a dynamic and captivating educator, and kids and staff alike are excited to have her in our organization.

HEALTHY SCHOOL PROGRAM

June is a busy month for Primeros Pasos, with 15 volunteers currently visiting from around the globe. Our wonderful volunteers are helping us with a variety of projects, from developing a more comprehensive Healthy Schools curriculum to conducting research on various water sources throughout the valley. With their assistance, we hope to implement our new and improved education program in selected pilot schools by July. With our new lesson plans, we will visit schools more frequently and provide in-depth lessons on important health topics, assuring that the children of the Palajunoj receive a comprehensive health education.

We are also in the midst of our yearly Healthy Schools Mobile Clinics! Our doctors have already examined and treated children from 7 of the 10 schools that we work with every year, as well as treating several community members who stopped by our mobile clinics. This year has been especially exciting for our Healthy Schools program due to our Dia de Salud (Health Day) at Xecaracoj, organized in conjunction with our local PeaceCorps Volunteer, Rachel Lequier, and the organization Soluciones Comunitarias. With the help of several teachers, local volunteers, and international volunteers, we presented lessons on nutrition, personal hygiene, sanitation, mental health and self-esteem, and dental hygiene to all 700 students from the school. Because lack of clean water access often presents a barrier to health and hygiene for these students, we partnered with the organization Soluciones Comunitarias to supply convenient, cost-effective water filters to parents and teachers.

NUTRITIONAL RECUPERATION PROJECT

We’re also working on improving and growing our Nutritional Recuperation Project! This year, our team is working closely with over 20 pregnant mothers and mothers with chronically malnourished children under 2 years old in some of the most remote communities of the Valley. Through workshops, cooking lessons, and frequent checkups, we’ve already seen great improvements in the health of our participants. Recently, author Roger Thurow visited our organization to conduct research for his upcoming book, 1,000 days. According to several studies (SUN initiative), the health of a child in its first 1,000 days will determine its lifelong health and success. In the Palajunoj Valley, where child malnutrition rates approach 70 percent, it is essential that we conduct health interventions during this critical period. We are planning to lengthen our program to three years so that we can stand by mothers throughout their children’s first 1,000 days.

MEDICAL PROGRAM

This month, many exciting technological upgrades are being implemented at the clinic. Currently, two of our Medical Volunteers are developing an Android application for Primeros Pasos, which will make prescribing medicine simpler for our doctors and Guatemalan medical students. The app will automate calculating dosage requirements by a child’s weight and age, and help us to further increase accuracy and improve the quality of our medical care in the Palajunoj Valley. It will be a great asset to busy doctors at our mobile clinics.

We are also working on installing an Open MRS system and developing detailed manuals to make transitions smoother for our clinical staff and volunteers. With the new Open MRS system, Primeros Pasos will further improve its ability to track data from our medical, nutritional, and educational programs. This will allow us to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our organization, allow us to better evaluate our programs, and ensure the success of Primeros Pasos programs for years to come.

THANK YOU!

Thank you again for all of your continued support! Without you, none of the medical care, services, or educational programs that we provide would be possible! We know that there are a lot of organizations out there to support, and we are very grateful for that you’ve chosen to invest in Primeros Pasos. We truly depend on the generosity of donors like you to continue our programs in the Palajunoj Valley, and are deeply appreciative for your assistance.

Mobile Clinic
Mobile Clinic
Volunteers at Work
Volunteers at Work
Healthy Schools Program
Healthy Schools Program
Nutrition Group Meeting
Nutrition Group Meeting

Links:

Oct 7, 2013

Our work in 2013

We've had a great year at Primeros Pasos. October is a busy month for staff and volunteers, as we're continuing with projects and program activities, while also starting to think about next year. This year has been marked with many successes:

+Primeros Pasos attended children from all 10 schools in the Palajunoj Valley this year, making sure that all primary school students in the area had a chance to receive an anual check up and receive needed medication-- all free of charge. 

+Staff and volunteers gave age appropriate health lessons in all ten schools. 

+We successfully started new women's health education groups in new communities, as well as improve the current curriculum.

+We had five successful mobile clinics in remote Valley communities. 

+Our scholars all made good grades in school this year and are passing to the next grade.

+We've worked with 30 children under two years of age and 20 pregnant women to combat malnutrition in the Valley through lessons on health and hygiene, gardening workshops, cooking demonstrations, and free nutritional packets and primary health care.  

+We've seen more adult patients this year compared to last year's numbers.

+We were visited by journalist Roger Thurow for research on his next book about global malnutriton. Read his article about us here.

+A group of filmmakers captured the work of Primeros Pasos on video. Check them out here!

 

We've got big plans for next year! Help support us today so that we can continue our important work!

Apr 17, 2013

See your impact! First Quarter in Numbers

Our first quarter
Our first quarter

AN UPDATE FROM PRIMEROS PASOS - OUR FIRST QUARTER IN NUMBERS
We've had an amazing first quarter of the year and want to share our success with you! We think 2013 is shaping up to be the most successful year for Primeros Pasos and we're thankful for your support! 
+So far this year we've seen 1,697 medical patients, 294 dental patients and our lab has analyzed 828 tests. 
+We've hosted one Mobile Clinic that saw 137 children in a remote community.
+During Spring Break, we built FIVE provisional hand washing stations in Valley schools. 
+We've taught self esteem, drug addition and puberty lessons to all 5th and 6th graders in THREE Valley schools. +We've hosted 34 Women's Health Education meetings in THREE different communities.
+Our dental intern has started treating over 1,000 students with fluoride.
+We've selected 50 participants to join our year long Nutritional Recuperation program.
+We've had a total of 11 foreign volunteers this year. Currently, we have SEVEN volunteers working with us in various program, with 14 more joining us over the next three months. 
+We've helped EIGHT students register for secondary school thanks to our scholarship program.

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HAND WASHING MADE FUN
Parasitic infections are very prevalent in the school children in the Palajunoj Valley. One key issue is the lack of sanitation infrastructure in the primary schools here. No matter how much Primeros Pasos teaches students to wash their hand, if there is no place to wash them at school, students will continue to have infections. Primeros Pasos saw this as a great opportunity for our Spring Break groups to make a difference this year.

Over two weeks time in March, our Spring Break groups from Vanderbilt University and Boston University helped build provisional hand washing stations in five schools. These hand washing stations are called "Tippy Taps" and cost under $100 to make. The students gave fun health lessons about parasites and hand washing to each classroom while half of the group worked to construct the Tippy Taps. The students and teachers were really happy with the results-- we've never seen kids this excited to wash their hands!

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CELEBRATION-- YEAR OF LEARNING AND SHARING
Last week, the 14 women in the Xepache group of our Women’s Health Education Program, graduated into their second year of the program. In honor of their graduation, Miriam, the program director, prepared a snack of tostadas and fruit smoothies for everyone. The women discussed what they found to be most valuable and interesting of what they had learned so far and expressed excitement over moving onto the next phase of the program. 

The Stairway to Good Health program consists of three yearlong modules. In the first phase of the first year, the groups are introduced to preventative health topics such as nutrition and hygiene. In the second phase, our health educators discuss issues more specific to women’s health, such as family planning, prenatal care and women’s cancers. The second year, which the Xepache group will begin in their next session, focuses on women’s empowerment and leadership. In the final year of the program, the women become health educators or implement a project that benefits the community.
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MEET OUR SCHOLARS
Our Scholarship Program empowers young people from the Palajunoj Valley to continue their education and become leaders who participate in improving their communities. In addition to providing funds to cover the costs of secondary school, Primeros Pasos hosts monthly workshops for our scholars and their parents that focus on themes such as community leadership, self esteem, and health.  

Juan is beginning his last year of secondary school. He lives in Chuicaracoj, a distant community in the Palajunoj Valley. During the week Juan works in Xela in a warehouse, and on the weekends maintains high grades at school. Juan is a shy kid, but is very concentrated in his studies and constantly looks to improve his life and the lives of his family members. He recently said: "I am the second of five children, and my older brother had to leave school in order to help our father with the household costs. My father works in the fields and last year lost his whole crop due to the hurricane-- we were left with nothing. I thought about working instead of going to school because it pained me to see my father spending so much money on my studies. However, before I had to make that decision, Primeros Pasos gave me a scholarship. Now I can study knowing that the money is there for me. I have high grades now and am learning about many different things as part of the program. I am very thankful for Primeros Pasos." To support Juan or another scholar, please contact development@primerospasos.org
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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT
Lara is from Washington State, but received her degree from Brown University in 2009. Since then she has been working for different organizations, including a global health think tank where she worked on vaccine introduction projects. Most recently Lara traveled to Guatemala to work in the Rio Dulce area for a health organization on their public health outreach programs. Lara came to Primeros Pasos seeking a opportunity to work with indigenous populations who lacked access to adequate health care. Over the next four months, she will be helping us improve our monitoring and evaluation systems for our Women's Health Education Program and Children's Health Education Program to help us better measure our impact in the Palajunoj Valley.
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MORE FAMILIES RECEIVING NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT
In 2012, our pilot Nutritional Recuperation project helped 26 children under five years recuperated their normal height and weight. Their families learned about important health topics, ensuring that the children would continue to grow and be healthy. We're pleased to say that 2013 has already proved to be a great year with new developments for the Nutrition Program. This year we'll be working in some of the most remote communities in the Valley with a group of 20 low income pregnant mothers and 30 chronically malnourished children between six and 24 months. Primeros Pasos will again provide tailored medical and nutritional treatment along with focused and practical nutrition and health classes to empower mothers and pregnant women with knowledge, skills and tools needed to maintain healthy, balanced diets for themselves and their families. 

Primeros Pasos has recently been awarded a $10,000 grant to fund this important project, but we need your help! This is a special matching grant, meaning that we have to raise a portion of the money. The grant officer explained that they really wanted to work with us on the project and help us fund it quickly, which led them to decide to go above their usual 50/50 match scheme and give us the largest portion they have ever awarded-- 80/20. This means we'll need to raise $2,000 for our program! To help us-- please donate at http://www.onedayswages.org/donate/org/primeros-pasos-guatemala.

Spring break teams
Spring break teams
Women
Women's Graduation
Tippy Tap projects
Tippy Tap projects
Tippy Taps and Spring Break groups
Tippy Taps and Spring Break groups

Links:

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