School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children

Jan 23, 2012

All Pumped up About WASH!

This week we began installing a water tank at the La Cumbre School to pump much-needed water across the property. Due to low water pressure throughout town, the school often had very little water and toilets could not be flushed. Water is pumped from existing tanks at the school into this new tank, creating sufficient water pressure to ensure that the school will always have running water. We’re installing pipes from this tank to another set of bathrooms on another part of the property for the same reason. We should be done with construction by Monday—the first day of class!

Late last year we also built hand-washing stations for the children at La Cumbre. Where they once had one, not-so-child-friendly place to wash their hands, they now have four child-friendly wash stations.

Other WASH activities this week include the creation of the first teacher training manual and training at two schools. We are excited to be conducting these trainings that will make the WASH project sustainable beyond Pueblo a Pueblo’s presence. There will be three trainings during the school year, focusing on different hygiene topics and providing teachers with tools for incorporating these topics into their daily lesson plans. Keep watching the blog for updates.

Nov 25, 2011

WASH Activities during school holiday

During the November and December school recess, Pueblo a Pueblo is implementing a vacation program at the four schools where we have organic gardens as well as at the school with a Pueblo a Pueblo supported library. We took advantage of these activities to reinforce correct and consistent dental hygiene.

Using a short story developed in Bolivia and adapted by Peace Corps Guatemala, “Mariquita and Margarita,” we engaged the children in a discussion about what leads to unhealthy teeth and what they can do to improve their dental hygiene. Due to the impoverished situation most of the students live in, we also discussed alternatives to toothpaste, including salt and baking soda. After a demonstration of how to brush your teeth, students were all given their own brushes thanks to a generous in-kind donation from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Youth Group from Bellingham, WA. So far we have distributed over 100 toothbrushes to children between the ages of 4 and 14 and hope to make it to 130 by the end of the vacation activities.

After brushing our teeth as a group with baking soda we reviewed why and how many times we should brush our teeth, and when to change our toothbrushes. The kids had differing reactions to the baking soda-some spat it right out and asked for Colgate and others really liked it!

In addition, as we mentioned in our previous report, we have focused our efforts on improving sanitation facilities at La Cumbre School.  Construction of washbasins for one block of bathrooms is now complete. The new washbasins have been built at the right height for elementary school aged children, meaning children will no longer have to climb into the pila (large washbasin used for laundry and dishes) to reach the faucet. Soon, we will begin work on the second block of bathrooms to ensure daily access to water and will also repair some of the toilets. Check back soon for more details!

Sep 21, 2011

WASH in Chacaya School

Pueblo a Pueblo began the School Health and Hygiene activities by completing a needs assessment in two primary schools in communities close to Santiago Atitlan. These assessments helped us identify where and how to begin our work. In order to have the greatest impact, we chose to focus first on Escuela Chacayá. This school already had access to clean water as well as adequate sanitary facilities for the size of the student population.  However, they still had pressing and legitimate needs, including the need to install a water storage tank and renovate the bathroom and sink facilities.  Any time the electricity went out in the school (which was quite a common occurrence because of its rural location), the water filter would stop working and the students would be left without clean water.  A water storage tank would ensure that when the electricity went out, they would still have access to potable water.  In addition, the bathroom and sink facilities needed renovations, as there were only two toilets working properly for a school population of 131 students and several faucets that needed replacing.

               Installation of the water storage tank has been completed and a roof is being installed this week to ensure that the tank cannot be removed from the school premises.  Pueblo a Pueblo provided the funds for the tank while the director and teachers of the school helped to coordinate the installment. In addition, renovation of the bathroom and sink facilities has been completed, providing an additional 3 toilets and 4 faucets for the students.

               Having access to safe water, toilets and hand washing facilities doesn’t automatically mean that hygiene and health will improve.  When Pueblo a Pueblo first began working with Escuela Chacayá, lessons on health and hygiene were being taught to the students only sporadically and students’ hygiene behaviors and knowledge were strong in some areas and weaker in others. A volunteer at Pueblo a Pueblo created an initial hygiene curriculum and piloted it in the school in addition to launching a dental hygiene initiative.  As a part of this initiative, every student received a toothbrush and every teacher, toothpaste.  The teachers ensure their students brush their teeth every day after snack time.

               In the coming months, Pueblo a Pueblo will focus on improving facilities at the second school, Escuela La Cumbre, and improving and formalizing the hygiene curriculum in order to offer it to teachers at both schools.

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Project Leader

Rosemary Trent

Executive Director
Washington, DC Guatemala

Where is this project located?

Map of School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children