Margarita and Juana are sisters, they share their joys, sadness, hopes, and dreams. They learn from each other’s experiences.
Three years ago, Adolfo, Margarita’s son, was weighed and included in the list of underweight boys and girls in the Xevitz community, located in the municipality of Nebaj in the Department of Quiché. Margarita was concerned and she registered him in Save the Children’s project Improving Food Security and Health for Families in Coffee-Growing Areas in Guatemala, which taught her about integral goat management.
After 3 months, Margarita started to see the results of owning and taking care of a goat in her home, since the weight of her child started to increase as a result of the glass of goat milk that she gave him every day.
However, this was not the only benefit; other benefits from the goat also included improvements in the household budget. As she says, by using organic fertilizer and goat urine, they do not have to buy chemical fertilizer, and this has resulted in household savings. “Now my land is stronger and this year, my corn is greener than it was last year.”
At present, Margarita López Pérez, her husband Tomás García Simón, and their son, Juan Adolfo García, are happier, since they have improved their quality of life. Margarita shared the information on the benefits that the goat had brought to her home with her sister, Juana, who sought the support of the project to establish a goat module in her home.
With support from Global Giving throughout the Buy a Goat for a Family in Guatemala (7097) project, Juana and other families in the region implemented goat modules in the community. As a result of this, Juana started to give goat milk to her grandson, Edgar Roberto Matom Hermoso, who is 4 years old and was also underweight, according to the weight and height monitoring performed in the community.
“I was very happy to learn that my sister had realized how really helpful it is to have a goat, since we do not have a monthly salary to buy milk for our children, and feeding and keeping a goat in ideal conditions helps us in many ways. I hope that she can help her grandson, who really needs it”, Margarita says.
Thus, they asked for support to start their goat module in their home. “I feel very good and I am very happy, since my family, my sister’s family, as well as my son’s family are experiencing the benefit of owning a goat, which are not limited to providing milk, but also include other benefits obtained from it. I hope that other families in my community realize what we are doing and that they can do the same thing”, said Doña Margarita López Pérez.
Thanks to you for contribute in improving children's nutrition in Guatemala!
The words that inspired Elizabeth to imagine a future beyond her family’s limited means and expectations, and empowered her to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, were written by her sponsor. Save the Children’s Dr. Elizabeth Bocaletti was once a sponsored child in Guatemala. This is her story.
Elizabeth grew up in a large family of modest means in rural Guatemala. She was a good student, but opportunities were limited, especially for girls. And yet, Elizabeth dreamed of becoming a doctor. In fact, she was determined to do so. Elizabeth attributes her high aspirations to the letters she received from her sponsor.
“These letters said things like, ‘You are a great girl, a good student. You will go far. You will have a bright future,’” Elizabeth remembers, “And I know that these words influenced my life – the way I understood my future. They opened my mind to new possibilities. They gave me a certain determination to make an impact on the world.”
Elizabeth did fulfill her dream, earning her MD in Pediatrics, and then a Master’s degree in Public Health. Today, Elizabeth works for Save the Children as an Advisor on our work helping children survive and thrive throughout Latin America, where she continues to make an impact on the world every day. The dream even lives on in her own children, both of whom are studying to become doctors.
Elizabeth will always treasure her sponsor’s words of inspiration and empowerment – and we thank her for sharing them, and her story, with all of us.
“Never underestimate the power of your words on the life of a child.” – Elizabeth Bocaletti, MD, MPH, Save the Children Advisor, and former sponsored child.
Beyond the goat programs, Save the Children has a long history in Guatemala. Elizabeth's story is just part of that long history of commitment.
Children are more likely to be healthy and educated when their families are not worried about where the next meal will come from. But in many Guatemala and rural parts of the world, families urgently need support to grow or buy a variety of foods for their children to thrive. To effectively fight child hunger and improve children's wellbeing, nutritious food must be made available to families, and families must have the means to buy it.
To help parents provide for their children's basic nutritional needs, Save the Children's hunger and livelihoods programs focus on improving the food supply, farming practices and finances of families in need. In addition to unique projects like the goat project you so generously support, we have robust programs all over the world. Among other things:
Cristiano Ronaldo is gearing up to take on child hunger in Guatemala. "See how @SavetheChildren is showing parents how to use goat milk to tackle child #hunger in Guatemala," tweeted the Real Madrid football star. Cristiano is referring to a goat milk program, featured in a new Save the Children video, which is helping chronically malnourished Guatemalan children like four-year-old Isabella gain weight and grow. View the video in English and in Spanish.
"Parents want to do everything they can for their child. As a father, I can only imagine how Isabella's mother must have felt, knowing her child was not getting the nourishment she needed," said Cristiano Ronaldo, referring to a mother and child featured in the video. "Fortunately, Isabella's mother got good advice from Save the Children on how healthy foods like goat milk can help Isabella gain weight and grow. But not all parents get this guidance, and that is heartbreaking."
Save the Children's goat-raising center in Guatemala offers milk as a source of protein for undernourished children living in rural communities. Nearly half of all children under age 5 in Guatemala are chronically malnourished. In Quiche, a rural mountainous area about 165 kilometers outside of Guatemala City where Isabella lives, the number of chronically malnourished children climbs to more than 72 percent of under 5 children. One-year-olds are especially vulnerable once they stop breastfeeding and no longer get enough of the right proteins and nutrients in their daily diet.
"Healthy foods fuel the growth of a child's brain and body in their early years. Without them, children suffer life-long consequences — their growth is stunted, they are more susceptible to illness, they struggle to keep up and pay attention in school," said Carlos Carrazana, country director of Save the Children in Guatemala. "But when we reach children early on, we can change their future, and make sure they have a chance to reach their full potential."
Empowering Families to Tackle Child Hunger in Guatemala
Save the Children provides child hunger programs to families in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, an under-resourced area that is home to the country's ethnic minority community and where a high percentage of children are malnourished. In addition to the goat milk program, Save the Children counsels pregnant women, mothers and caretakers on how to breastfeed, and on how to help their kids be healthier and eat a better diet. Working with community volunteers and health workers, Save the Children reaches mothers through classes, home and health clinic visits, community fairs, community theater events and soccer tournaments.
The global humanitarian organization also advises families on how to grow more nutritious food, such as beans, corn, potatoes and vegetables, and how to raise animals for eggs, goat milk and meat. Families also learn how to increase their income through better marketing approaches and new business opportunities like horticulture and animal husbandry, which helps pay for food and other needs for their children.
"Look at beautiful Isabella today. She is a happy, healthier child," added Ronaldo. "I want her story of a life free from hunger to be the story of every Guatemalan child. That's a goal worth pursuing."
Esteemed Senior Fellow from the Chicago Council on Global Affaris, Roger Thurow, visited Save the Children's nutrition programs in Guatemala where we include our goat program as a tool to fight malnutrition. Here is his blog:
There are several reasons why Guatemala sits atop the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index, a ranking compiled by the Institute of Development Studies in the UK measuring the political and social commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition in developing countries.
One, the Guatemalan government is beginning to implement a Zero Hunger Plan that aims to reduce chronic malnutrition in children less than five years of age by 10% by 2016. That would be quite a feat, since Guatemala has one of the world’s highest child stunting rates at 48%.
Two, the country’s influential public sector is backing the plan and has formed a business alliance against malnutrition, which annually diminishes Guatemala’s GDP by some 5%.
Three, the International Rabbits (Internacionales Conejos) are on the case. The Rabbits are arguably Guatemala’s most popular marimba band. Working with the international humanitarian organization Save the Children, the Rabbits have provided a jaunty soundtrack to the national war on child stunting, which particularly emphasizes good nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene during the 1,000 days from when a women becomes pregnant to her child’s second birthday. After their hit song “Give the Breast,” about the importance of breastfeeding during the first six months, now comes the follow-up “Give Complementary Foods,” about the nutritional needs of children through two years. Marimba has carried the health messages of the 1,000 days to the far reaches of the Western Highlands, where child malnutrition rates soar to 75%.
About the Author
Roger Thurow joined The Chicago Council on Global Affairs as senior fellow on global agriculture and food policy in January 2010 after three decades at The Wall Street Journal. For 20 years, he was a foreign correspondent based in Europe and Africa. His coverage of global affairs spanned the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the humanitarian crises of the first decade of this century–along with 10 Olympic Games. In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations.
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