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.
May 7, 2015

Training Mother Leaders in Nutrition

Mother leaders group foods for balanced meals
Mother leaders group foods for balanced meals

Since our last update, the Mil Milagros staff team has been busy partnering with more than 500 mother and grandmother volunteers to implement our nutrition, hygiene, and education programs in our partner schools and communities.  The children recently shared that the meals that they receive in school allow them to eat nourishing foods that they don’t have access to in their homes.  They often cite chicken, for example, as something they love and only get at school, thanks to Mil Milagros. In addition, we inaugurated two new school kitchens and bathrooms and worked with the communities to equip them.

Lucy, our Nutrition Coordinator, works closely with 28 mother and grandmother leaders teaching them new recipes and training them to give talks to their peers on a range of nutrition topics.  The leaders then create their own props and materials and share their knowledge with the other 500+ mother volunteers.  The leaders learn not only about nutrition and hygiene but develop public speaking and leadership skills.  Manuela, one of the mother leaders, told us, “Thanks to Mil Milagros, I am learning what is good and bad for our children, so they can be healthy.  And now, I am sharing that knowledge with other mothers, too.”

We are delighted to see these mothers and grandmothers blossom as leaders in their children’s schools and communities as they share their knowledge with others.  As one mother leader said, “We have a responsibility to share the information that we learn with the other mothers, our families, and our communities, so we can give our children a better future.”  We couldn’t agree more and we know that with partners like these incredible mother and grandmother leaders, and with your help, we can help give these children the future they deserve.

Nutrition demonstration in new kitchen
Nutrition demonstration in new kitchen
Mothers serve children lunch in new kitchen
Mothers serve children lunch in new kitchen
Lunch time!
Lunch time!

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Feb 4, 2015

Kicking off the New School Year in 2015

Kevin in his new 1st grade classroom
Kevin in his new 1st grade classroom

As the new school year begins in Guatemala, it is a joy to see so many of our old friends in their new classrooms—and also to meet some new ones.  As we celebrate inaugurations in our partner schools, the year has brought us 89 new first graders.  Each of these children, along with hundreds of their other school mates, will receive a nutritious lunch each school day prepared by teams of mother and grandmother volunteers. Training of the mothers and grandmothers and food products are funded by MM donors.  In addition, each child will receive a textbook and hygiene supplies including soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and toilet paper.  For many of these first graders, it will be their first toothbrush ever.  Last November, we hired our first ever Health and Hygiene Coordinator who will train mothers to lead workshops that teach the children how to properly use their toothbrushes, among other important hygiene topics to keep everyone healthy.

Kevin is one of our new first graders.  He is seven years old and says that school is exciting, not scary.  He loves going to school because his teacher, Mrs. Lety, is fun, and knows so many things   that she teaches them every day.  For example, this year she is going to teach him how to read all by himself.  When he grows up and finishes school, Kevin wants to be a police officer.  He isn’t quite sure what police officers do all of the time, but he wants to be able to catch bad guys and put them in jail.  He has big dreams for such a little guy!

It is always a busy process to prepare for the start of each new school year.  During the months since our last report, we held our annual mother’s retreat with 34 mother and grandmother leaders from our schools who joined to share their experiences and learn together.  We met with teachers, mothers, members of the MM Boards of Directors in each partner school, and local elected officials to evaluate our 2014 programs and to plan for 2015.  We also raised funds to build kitchens and bathrooms in two of our partner schools.  In December, the office was busy as our coordinators developed new curricula for the mothers and grandmothers who participate in our nutrition trainings, hygiene workshops, and early childhood nutrition program.  Now that the planning is finished, we look forward to implementing all of the activities we have prepared for a successful 2015.

Receiving hygiene supplies at the schools
Receiving hygiene supplies at the schools
Mother volunteers with new kitchen supplies
Mother volunteers with new kitchen supplies
School lunches start again!
School lunches start again!
Recognizing mother leaders at annual retreat
Recognizing mother leaders at annual retreat
Community evaluation and planning
Community evaluation and planning

Links:

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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