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Oct 20, 2011

Nourishing more children in 2011

As the 2011 school year comes to an end this week in Santiago Atitlan, Pueblo a Pueblo reflects back on the growth and impact that the School Lunch program has had throughout the year. Now serving lunch in three rural schools, Panabaj, Chacaya, and La Cumbre, Pueblo a Pueblo is providing healthy and nutritious meals to over 700 children who would not otherwise have access to a meal of protein and important vitamins and minerals.  Instead of a typical lunch at home of corn tortillas and salsa, or salt, children in the Pueblo a Pueblo School Lunch program are eating chicken with beans and rice, beef stew, and on other days spaghetti with vegetables.  The mere existence of the school lunch program and certainty that children will be fed during school is an incentive for poor agricultural families to send their children to school.  November does not only mark the end of the school year but also the beginning of the coffee harvest throughout the region.  This is a busy time for families whose livelihood is dependent on the coffee harvest and young children are often pulled out of school to help harvest.  The incentive of a hot lunch is enough to keep many of those children in school up to the last days of class, enabling them to complete all of their final exams and continue on to the next year. 


Looking forward Pueblo a Pueblo is entering an exciting time of growth! With your support we hope to be able to expand to two more schools in the coming year, providing a much needed hot daily lunch to an additional 530 children of Atitlan, Guatemala.

Oct 18, 2011

Maternal Child Health updates

Since last we wrote, the Maternal Child Health Program has enrolled 8 new women into the program, bringing to 67 the number of children who are being assisted.

In our last update, we mentioned Vilma, our social work volunteer, conducting a survey with the women. This has been very helpful for Pueblo a Pueblo as it has allowed us to assess areas of strength as well as areas where we can improve the program. Some of the most important results from her report are the following:

  • When asked what the most helpful part of the program is, many mothers mentioned access to medical care, coverage of prescriptions, coverage of labor and delivery costs, and the personal attention received after the birth of their child.
  • Among the topics that the mothers feel were most helpful and that they put into practice in their homes were Hygiene and Improving the Nutrition of your Child.
  • With respect to the coverage of medical costs, 62% of the mothers interviewed reported that medical expenses for the family have decreased, 35% reported that their children get sick less often, and 4% said they are able to take more children to the doctor. This is important because it shows that the Maternal Child Health Program is not only serving the sponsored child, but also their siblings.
  • Topics mothers would like learn about include: How to prepare nutritious meals and Natural Medicine.
  • Topics mothers would like to revisit are Family planning and contraceptive methods.

We are now working on incorporating their suggestions into our programming and look forward to reporting back on the outcomes of these additions.

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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