Mil Milagros, Inc.

Mil Milagros, Inc. partners with schools and families in impoverished and predominantly Mayan populations from the Guatemalan Highlands to ensure all children graduate from sixth grade healthy, literate, and prepared to continue their education. Only 40% of children in Guatemala finish sixth grade and 50% of the children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Guatemala has the sixth highest rate of child malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America.
Nov 4, 2014

Graduating Primary School in Guatemala

Selvin
Selvin's sixth grade graduation

October brings graduations in Guatemala.  As the school year ends, we have been celebrating with the sixth grade students and their families at our five partner schools.  Most students are joyful about achieving this important milestone, while others are sad to say goodbye in face an uncertain future.  In a country where graduation rates are notoriously low—only 66% of school age children finish primary school—we are encouraged to see so many students finishing primary school. This year, 97% of our sixth graders graduated.  Selvin is one example of that success.  A 13-year-old graduate of our partner school in Nuevo Progreso, Selvin had perfect attendance and good grades this year.  It hasn’t been easy. With seven brothers and sisters, Selvin and his family struggle to live with their father´s irregular income as he works as a day laborer in the fields whenever he can find work. 

Selvin´s mother, Doña Andrea, believes strongly in the importance of education for her children.  That is why she serves on the Mil Milagros Board of Directors at her children´s school. In this leadership role, she is in charge of organizing the other mother and grandmother volunteers and ensuring that they attend trainings, meetings and other events. She cooks at the school twice a week.  Her commitment and hard-work have paid off.  In addition to Selvin, she has three children who will graduate from high school next year, another studying in middle school, and three more still in primary school.  She explains, “I would have liked to study, but with eight children, it’s too late for me now.  But my children will be professionals.”

As for Selvin, he is a little nervous to go to middle school, but says he is excited to have new experiences. With a strong love of math, he wants to not only go to college, but get a doctorate degree in mathematics.  His dream job is to work in a bank as an accountant.  One of the things he loves the most about Mil Milagros is that we gave him a textbook so he can study not only at school, but also at home.  He says that having a textbook means he can learn about things on his own that he never even imagined. 

As the school year comes to an end, we are happy to report that with your support and the hard work of our 545 mother and grandmother volunteers, we were able to feed nearly 1000 children every school day in Guatemala. These children also received fluoride treatments, lice treatments, and deworming medications as they learned about hygiene. Last week, they received their final toothbrushes of the year to take home to use during the months that they will be on vacation. In addition, we collaborated with two other organizations to build a school in Nuevo Progreso and homes for the 22 families in another one of our partner communities who have been homeless for four years ago. We look forward to working with each of our partner schools and communities to plan for a successful 2015 school year!

Dona Andrea cooking for the students
Dona Andrea cooking for the students
Dona Andrea and her youngest children
Dona Andrea and her youngest children
Nuevo Progreso
Nuevo Progreso

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Aug 6, 2014

Meet Nikte

Nikte
Nikte

Nikte is one of the 35 children with whom Mil Milagros works in the community of Chutinamit. This very special young lady has overcome incredible obstacles to reach sixth grade where she is a top student in her class. Nikte's family, along with 21 other families, has been homeless since Tropical Storm Agatha ravaged their community in May 2010. The families were forced to leave their mountainside village and set up shelters in a windblown field. Mil Milagros had been working with the community for three years when they become homeless. To help mitigate their very difficult circumstances, we expanded our school-based nutrition program year round and incorporated all the young children into the program too. We rented rooms in a weavers’ cooperative to recreate the children’s school, and funded a “vacation school” so the children would have enrichment activities during their November and December recess. We funded portable gardens so the children could grow radishes, beans, and cilantro. And we secured much needed medical care for the community.

Like most of the 1,000+ children with whom Mil Milagros partners, Nikte plans to continue studying once she graduates from sixth grade. She wants to become a nurse so that she can “help others who need help.”  Not surprisingly, she is drawn to mathematics and natural sciences and says she wants to learn all about cellular systems. In addition to her passion for math and science, Nitke is also a gifted artist. She and both her siblings were among the six winners of this year’s Mil Milagros drawing contest at the Chutinamit school. Her winning drawing was incorporated into the beautiful mural that she and her classmates painted outside the front door

Last month, we were thrilled to join with the community, the Sisters of the Holy Eucharist, and our partners from ConstuCasa to break ground in the new Chutinamit. Nikte says the houses that are at long last being built are great.  She is especially excited that her new home will have cement floors (instead of dirt) and that she will have a bathroom with a shower. 

When we asked Nikte if she had a message to share with Mil Milagros’s “amigos,” she said, “Thank you for the books, the food, and the fruit so that we can study, play and be happy.”

Nitke and her fellow mural design winners
Nitke and her fellow mural design winners
Nitke working on her school mural
Nitke working on her school mural
Nitke and her classmates with their embroidery
Nitke and her classmates with their embroidery
Nitke and classmates with their lunch
Nitke and classmates with their lunch
New house under construction for Nikte
New house under construction for Nikte's family

Links:

May 19, 2014

Supporting Healthy Habits and Healthy Children

Clean Water!
Clean Water!

Dear Amigos of Mil Milagros,

We at Mil Milagros are excited to update you on our work with nearly 600 mothers and grandmothers and 55 teachers with whom we partner to prepare 1,056 meals each school day. Once a month, 50 mother and grandmother leaders participate in nutrition workshops with MM’s Nutrition and Hygiene Coordinator. They learn about nutrition, how to adapt traditional menus to make them healthier and more “colorful” (by adding more veggies), how to ensure good hygiene in the school kitchens, how to be effective leaders, and how to train their mother and grandmother peers. While the teachers help with food purchases in some of our partner schools, increasingly it is the mothers who are assuming responsibility for shopping and securing high-quality food products at reasonable prices. Our team of staff works with the mothers to adjust the menus to take advantage of fruits and vegetables when they are in season and more affordable. In the Guatemala Highlands, peaches and apples are now in season and the children love them.

One of our most noteworthy accomplishments has been working with the mothers, grandmothers, teachers and the children to cultivate a habit of drinking water. Due to the widespread contamination of the water supply in Guatemala, there is no culture of drinking water. In fact, soda is commonly referred to as “agua.” Thanks to the generous support of Water Charity, we have been able to install water filters in each of our school kitchens and in every classroom. The children in each of our partner schools now drink water with their lunch – and throughout the day. Poco a poco, we are seeing the children’s diets replace sugary drinks with clean water and a piece of fruit.

While the children eat nourishing meals each school day and drink more and more water, we are also working with each school to improve the children’s health and hygiene. Through our partnership with the Ministry of Education’s Healthy Schools Program, we have implemented a hygiene curriculum in each school. Thanks to the generous support of many friends and donors, we are able to provide each child with a new toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap every three months along with a fluoride varnish twice a year, toilet paper, deworming medicines, and lice shampoo. As one visitor to our schools recently commented, “The Mil Milagros children are much healthier and cleaner than the children in most other schools.”

Every child deserves to be healthy and clean, to be well fed, and to become literate. With your help, Mil Milagros is making this possible for some 1,000 children in six rural communities. With your continued support, we will be able to reach many more. Mil gracias!

Mothers in a Nutrition Workshop
Mothers in a Nutrition Workshop
Mothers Serve a Healthy Lunch
Mothers Serve a Healthy Lunch
A Water Filter Installation
A Water Filter Installation

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