As the year draws to a close, Primeros Pasos and its Inter-American Health Alliance (IAHA) partners have been busy working to improve health in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. After a spectacular summer peak of volunteers, dedicated staff and volunteers continue to provide quality preventative health education and healthcare to the children and families in rural Guatemala. Highlights from the last few months include:
We have several events and activities planned for the next quarter, as we wrap up 2011. Please keep in touch, as we start our Holiday Giving Campaign so we can continue to provide access to quality medical and dental attention to our patients. More information on recent and upcoming events can be found below. We hope you find this report of interest and enjoy the fall leaves!-------------
PRIMEROS PASOS WELCOMES A NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND THREE NEW OUTSTANDING TEAM MEMBERS
Board of DirectorsOn Tues, July 5, 2011, after a General Assembly Meeting held at the Clinic, Primeros Pasos elected a new Board of Directors to serve over 2011-13. All board members are centrally located here in Quetzaltenango and their support has already been incredible for Clinic progress. We are honored to be guided by the collective knowledge and dedication of such notable individuals:
Medical DirectorPrimeros Pasos is proud to welcome Dr. Erick Robert Rosal de Leon to the team! The new Medical Director for the Clinic, Dr. Rosal is a professional in his field who was born and raised in the City of Quetzaltenago. A graduate of medicine and surgery from the Western Office of Guatemala’s San Carlos University, he began his career as a Medical Investigator with the Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (INCAP). In time, Dr. Rosal transitioned up to a General Doctor position with the local division of the Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social (IGSS). During his six year tenure with IGSS, Dr. Rosal also maintained his own private clinic in the area. In 2003, Dr. Rosal and his family moved to the United States. For several years, he worked as a Medical Associate at a local health clinic in Houston, Texas, while improving his fluency in English. Last year, Dr. Rosal and his family returned to Quetzaltenango. Currently, he is the General Medical Doctor for the local Xelaju Football Club in addition joining us at Primeros Pasos. With his apt medical knowledge and impeccable bed-side manner, Dr. Rosal has already been very well-received by all at the Clinic!
DentistIn September, Primeros Pasos contracted a professional dentist, Dr. Cintia Ana Luz Velásquez Bermudez, to provide dental services for residents of the Palajunoj Valley. Dr. Velásquez comes to Primeros Pasos from San Marcos, the department just to the west of Quetzaltenango, where she has her own private practice. She opened this practice three years ago after graduating from San Carlos University in Guatemala City with a degree in general odontology. Dr. Velásquez has already been a great asset to Primeros Pasos because of her skill and experience in dental care as well as her passion for working with children! In the coming weeks, Dr. Velásquez will continue to provide dental care to walk-in patients of all ages and also travel out into the farthest section of the Palajunoj Valley as part of our new mobile dental clinics program. Primeros Pasos is grateful to Dr. Velásquez for helping us to provide a much-needed resource to the residents of the Palajunoj Valley.
Assistant Women’s Health Education Program Director and Scholarship Program DirectorLucía Pamela Alvarado Romero joined the Primeros Pasos team in July 2011 as the new Assistant Women’s Health Education Program Director and Scholarship Program Director. Luci graduated from the Western College of Guatemala’s San Carlos University with a degree in psychology in 2009. As a psychologist, Luci has worked extensively on issues related to community and women’s issues. Before starting with Primeros Pasos, she was a Regional Psychologist for the Guatemalan Secretary of Social Well-being. Luci continues to assist with the implementation and enhancement of the Women’s Health Education Program, especially with her background in community work. Additionally, Luci is the new Director of the Scholarship Program working with young women as they finish their continuing education in a variety of subjects including computer training. Primeros Pasos is thrilled to have Luci on the team, helping to teach and empower women in the Palajunoj Valley!
2012 NUTRITION PROGRAMThrough the efforts of new US and Guatemalan partners, Primeros Pasos will move forward on a long-standing goal and launch a Nutrition Program in 2012! On average, two out of every three children seen by the Clinic's Healthy Schools program suffer from some level of mal-nutrition. Therefore, Primeros Pasos is looking to start a program to treat these children and help support and educate the families in the Palajunoj Valley.
Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in Central America, the hardest hit areas are the various departments located in the Altiplano, including Quetzaltenango. The proposed nutrition program will select 25 malnourished children identified through Healthy Schools data. With the help of a professional nutritionist, these children will be supplied with vitamins and supplements to combat chronic malnutrition and their families will be educated on better health practices and meal preparation that will provide the necessary nutrients for all family members.
Support to cover the majority of the program costs will be provided by Primeros Pasos’ new partner GlobeMed Chapter at Georgetown University. Also, AGREGUA, a local company in the Valley, has agreed to offset program costs via the donation of multivitamins and fortified atol (a local nutritional beverage). Primeros Pasos is extremely appreciative to have partners dedicated to getting this critically needed program off the ground in 2012!
SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF 2011 HEATH SCHOOLS PROGRAM With the school year coming to a close here in Guatemala, our Children’s Health Education team and our medical staff have been working hard to finish up the Healthy Schools programming. We have successfully seen classes from all ten elementary schools in the Palajunoj Valley, either when the classes came to the clinic for their annual “health field trip” or when our team of staff and volunteers headed out to the farthest Valley communities as part of our mobile health clinic program. Over the course of the year 2,487 children have received medical care and a series of grade-appropriate workshops both at the clinic and on-site in the schools.
INNOVATION OF MOBILE DENTAL CLINICSWhile mobile medical clinics have been bringing healthcare and health education to the isolated communities in the Valley for a few years now, this October marked the first time we have embarked on mobile dental clinics. Volunteers went out earlier this month with Dr. Velásquez and extracted over 50 severely infected teeth from students at Bella Vista. Next, we will bring dental services to Las Majadas, another far removed Valley community. The dental team is expected to extract teeth from 70 children suffering from dental infections and tooth decay. For many children in the Palajunoj Valley, Primeros Pasos’ mobile dental clinics mark the first time they have ever seen a dentist.
SUPPORTING 6TH GRADERS ACCOMPLISH COMMUNITY PROJECTSOur team of Children’s Health Educators has been finishing up the year completing student-selected 6th grade projects. The class of 6thgraders chooses a topic that is important to them (environment, domestic violence, education, etc.) and a corresponding project. Over the last few weeks, our volunteers have helped to finish desks at Xepache and have planted nearly 50 trees with the sixth graders in two of the Valley communities: Tierra Colorada Baja and Tierra Colorada Alta. For the department of Quetzaltenango where mudslides are a serious concern during the rainy season, issues surrounding deforestation and environmental protection are important.
CURRENT EVENTSOctober and November are the months that Primeros Pasos treats the local day care centers in the Palajunoj Valley. Through this program in connection with SOSEP, Clinic staff will be working to provide quality healthcare and preventative health education to the Valley’s littlest residents.
Stay tuned for more details about the upcoming IAHA fundraiser in Washington, D.C. this fall. If you're interested in getting involved with the planning or holding an event in your city, please contact Brent Savoie at email@example.com.
For more frequent updates, please join us on facebook at Primeros Pasos!
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