Wuqu' Kawoq

Wuqu' Kawoq's mission is to address the barriers to excellent health care that the majority of Guatemala's indigenous Maya population face, including principally the lack of access to health care in their own languages. As such, Wuqu' Kawoq develops primary care and health programs within a larger context of community vitality, family stability,and Mayan language revitalization.
May 18, 2016

Meet Sandy

Sandy and her mother.
Sandy and her mother.

Dear Friends,

You’ve heard from us before about the importance of fighting chronic malnutrition during the first few years of life.  Much of a child’s development— the development of the brain and major organ systems— occurs during this window, and after the window is closed, not much can be done to ameliorate the insults to growth and development that occurred before the child had a chance to celebrate his or her third birthday. Children who are chronically malnourished hit developmental milestones far behind their non-stunted peers, score lower on verbal reasoning and IQ tests, and are more susceptible to infectious disease.  They never fully recover from the sup-par development they experienced as infants, and adults who were stunted as children are also much more likely to suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease.  In contexts like Guatemala, chronic disease often goes untreated, which means that stunted children grow into chronically ill, less productive adults, who, in turn, are often less able to provide for their own children, meaning the children of adults who were chronically malnourished as children are much more likely to be chronically malnourished themselves.  And so on, generation after generation.

It’s a cycle of illness and poverty that is very hard to break out of.

This window during infancy, this infamous “thousand days”, is very small.  So small and so fragile, in fact, that many members of the global health community consider the amelioration of chronic malnutrition to be an impossibility, despite its obvious impact on human health and well-being.

 

We disagree.  And we’d like you to meet one of our many reasons why.

This is Sandy.

Sandy is now 22 months old and growing well.  When she first came to us, she was 16 months old and several standard deviations below normal on her growth chart.  Her mother was worried.  Sandy had always been a happy child, but she wasn’t speaking yet, and although she loved to play with her stuffed animals, and was alert and affectionate with her parents and siblings, she sometimes seemed tired and listless.  After Sandy was enrolled in Wuqu’ Kawoq’s nutritional program, her mother began noticing small changes in Sandy’s behavior.  Now, says her mother, she cries less, plays more, and eats better than she did before.  Sandy has two older brothers who weren’t enrolled in nutritional programming, and her mother tells us that Sandy is smarter and taller than them both.

It can be hard to see the difference that overcoming chronic malnutrition has on the body when the person in question is still a child.  To most of us, the only visible difference just looks like a few simple lines on a graph. To put it in perspective, let me list a few of the things that this seemingly small accomplishment is likely to mean in the future:

Sandy will likely meet or even exceed all developmental milestones.

She is much less likely to contract or to die from respiratory or diarrheal diseases while she is still a child.

She is much more likely to grow up to be literate and to score well on verbal reasoning exams.

Sandy likely won’t be chronically anemic, and thus she is much less likely to die during childbirth.

When she grows up, Sandy likely won’t be diabetic or suffer from metabolic or vascular disorders.  She won’t have heart disease as a young woman nor will she be afflicted with early-onset dementia.  In all likelihood, she'll be free from chronic disease.

Sandy will very likely grow up to be a strong, smart, healthy young woman who will go on to raise strong, smart, and healthy kids, if she chooses to have children.

And just like that…in a mere 6 months, Sandy and her mother may have helped break the cycle of poverty and illness for one family.  And Sandy is just one of many children who, with the help of Wuqu’ Kawoq’s nutritional programming, have beaten stunting during infancy.  As of this date, there are 1,250 children enrolled in WK’s nutritional programming.

Every child matters, because every child carries within them the seeds of change.

As do you.

Thank you, as always, for your support and generosity.  Together, we are making the impossible possible, one child, and one family, at a time.

Home Nutrition Visits
Home Nutrition Visits
Measuring every child for growth
Measuring every child for growth

Links:

Feb 17, 2016

It Takes a Village

German talking with a new mother
German talking with a new mother

Dear Friends,

We want to share a very important story directly from our field staff working one-on-one with our nutrition patients every single day!

“In the cornfield, if you put the fertilizer on too late, the corn becomes yellowed and withered. But if you do this on time, the corn will grow green and large. That is what we want for your child.”

–German, our Nutrition Field Staff

The metaphor is far more eloquent in Spanish, but the sentiment is the same. Tending to a cornfield takes many people and much effort. In the same way, it takes a village to raise a child: mother, father, siblings, friends and family. This is never more true than here in Guatemala. With scarcity of resources plaguing so many families, a mother and father cannot do it alone. When German made this analogy in the home of a patient, he was emphasizing that to help a malnourished child, both parents must be dedicated to improving their health. However, there are wider implications.

Nutrition education, like that provided by Yoli and our other educators, is necessary when so few parents have had the opportunity to learn what is healthy and nutritious to feed their child. Viveres—the diet supplementation of beans, eggs, and nutrients that Wuqu’ Kawoq provides for children in its program—is support for parents who may not have the means on their own. The extended family that often lives nearby can help the parents to make changes and support them through the long process of improving a child’s health. And the community itself, the support of other families fighting for their children, is crucial.

These are the “fertilizers” that German speaks of, the necessary components to “growing” a healthy child. And to do it early, while the child is still young, and before chronic malnutrition has taken an irreversible toll, is urgent. Yes, it is back-breaking work to grow the corn, but the outcome at the end vale la pena (totally worth the effort).

Thank you for your on-going incredible support. Just as we provide the fertilizer to the children, you make that fertilizer possible through your incredible donations! Thank you.

Guatemalan cornfield
Guatemalan cornfield

Links:

Nov 20, 2015

Making Life Worth Living

Let
Let's make #lifeworthliving

Dear Friends,

The holiday season is fast approaching. While we are extremely busy here in Guatemala, we want to take a moment to say "Thank you" to you, our donors. With your support, we have been able to make life worth living for so many people: patients, family, and friends.

Childhood malnutrition is a devastating disease. Not only does it cause a loss of stature, or stunting, but it continues to affect children in every step of life. Children grow up with lower cognitive abilities, more risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, and overall, a lowered potential to work and succeed. 

The good news is, we can fight these lifelong effects. Our program works to catch malnutrition early and help children catch up to the curve. This doesn't just impact the child, but all their loved ones as well. 

I'd like to introduce you to Nilton. Nilton is a one-year-old enrolled in our malnutrition program. He lives in rural Guatemala with his parents, who struggle every day to make ends meet. They don't have the resources to provide Nilton with the nutritious foods he needs to grow healthy and strong. With our program, however, his family receives food and micronutrient supplements that will let Nilton reach his full potential. And when Nilton came down with severe pneumonia, our doctors immediately took care of him and stopped this potentially life-threatening disease in its tracks. This doesn't just impact this baby, but all his family, who can live each day a little happier, a little more secure, knowing that Wuqu' Kawoq is with them every step of the way.

Nilton's mother cannot be more grateful for the support they are receiving, to provide the family with resources they could not have on their own. We are equally thankful. Without you, children like Nilton and their families would not have the opportunity for a better and brighter future.

Thank you! 

Let's continue to fight to end malnutrition and make #lifeworthliving here in Guatemala!  

With gratitude,

Anne Kraemer Diaz
Executive Director

Our friend Nilton
Our friend Nilton
 
   

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