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Jul 1, 2019

Busting Myths and Promoting Vaccination with Rebeca

Rebeca leads the workshop
Rebeca leads the workshop

Each month, Maternal Child Health project coordinator Rebeca Sosof leads an educational workshop for mothers sponsored through the project. During each session, Rebeca introduces a new strategy mothers can use to keep themselves and their young children healthy. This week, the topic was vaccination.

“I wanted all of the mothers to walk away having learned this: vaccines are important because they prevent dangerous diseases,” says Rebeca. “I want mothers to be aware of the risks of failing to vaccinate their children, and I want them to be able to make an informed choice about vaccination.”

One of the greatest barriers to vaccination in and around Santiago Atitlán is misinformation. Many families are worried that vaccines will hurt their children, or give them the very same diseases they are designed to prevent. The local rumor mill is full of frightening myths about vaccines, especially those administered to very young children.

Rebeca leads this workshop to set the record straight. “Vaccines wake up your child’s defenses so that they can fight off disease and grow up happy and healthy,” she explains to participants. “Your child may experience a mild reaction, but that’s because the vaccine is provoking something in their body—it is asking their body to do something totally new.” The momentary discomfort of an injection is worth it if you consider the benefit over time, she says—many vaccines will offer children protection for the rest of their lives!

During the session, the mothers traded stories of disapproving family members. One woman's mother-in-law tried to prohibit her from vaccinating her 2-year-old daughter; for another woman, it was her husband who said no. But the mothers, both of them in their second year as Maternal Child Health project participants, told Rebeca that when faced with this dilemma, they had remembered last year’s session on vaccines and taken their children to the health center to be vaccinated in secret.

Rebeca’s work is important because it links families to valuable health care resources in their communities. In Santiago Atitlán’s more rural neighborhoods, where many sponsored mothers live, health care workers conduct home visits to remind parents to vaccinate their children. “Many people ignore these reminders,” says Rebeca, “but sponsored mothers can use them to take advantage of free vaccination services at their local health center.”

We at Pueblo a Pueblo strive to build sustainable change in our partner communities. Education is key to our approach because it equips our community partners with the knowledge they need to best advocate for themselves and their families. Thank you for believing in the power of health education to transform lives. Your support helps Rebeca bust myths and promote healthy habits here in Guatemala!

Participants look on during the session
Participants look on during the session
Rebeca addresses participants
Rebeca addresses participants
Sponsored mother Santa participates in the session
Sponsored mother Santa participates in the session

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Jul 1, 2019

A Time of Transition For Our San Pablo Partners

Group members at a recent technical training
Group members at a recent technical training

In September, our Beekeeping partner group in San Pablo La Laguna will turn one year old. The group spent their first few months together learning basic beekeeping skills and putting their new knowledge to the test in their apiary. Since their impressive first harvest in January, the beekeepers-in-training have settled into a rhythm and will soon take on the challenges of entrepreneurship with the help of Beekeeping project technician Genaro Simalaj.

The San Pablo beekeepers have accomplished much during their first year as a collective. Because of their attentive work, the number of hives in their apiary has almost tripled since Pueblo a Pueblo made its initial donation of 10 hives last September. The group is also well-organized; its members share beekeeping responsibilities and show up consistently when it’s time to coordinate next steps. 

Genaro will lead the group’s last technical training next month. In September, at the start of the project cycle's second year, he will shift the focus of subsequent trainings to entrepreneurship. This change is coming just in time for the San Pablo beekeepers.

The collective has their product ready—the honey from their first harvest is already bottled, sealed, and labeled with their logo. They have also started building valuable relationships with a variety of potential distributors in the Lake Atitlán region and throughout Guatemala. The beekeepers have both of these key elements—now they need help linking the two.

While the group has gracefully handled beekeeping crises big and small, they are more unsure of their upcoming venture into the world of sales. Fortunately, Genaro is here to help. The most important lesson he plans to impart during his upcoming trainings in San Pablo? “The group must continue to manage its resources in a unified way,” says Genaro. “They will earn a greater profit from their product if they sell it together than if they divide up each harvest for each of the ten members to sell separately.”

Genaro hopes that the San Pablo beekeepers will soon see their product sold far and wide. He knows that it will take time, but he believes in this group. “And if things keep going well, they’ll be harvesting again in August,” he notes, “which means even more product to distribute!” Thank you for believing in the power of beekeeping to transform lives. Your support will fuel our San Pablo partners’ successful steps into the next phase of the project!

Genaro (left) addresses the group
Genaro (left) addresses the group
The group's growing apiary
The group's growing apiary
A bee hard at work in the San Pablo apiary
A bee hard at work in the San Pablo apiary

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Jul 1, 2019

Nutrition For the Whole Family

Sandy prepares for her next round of workshops
Sandy prepares for her next round of workshops

When Sandy leads nutrition trainings in schools, she often focuses on childhood nutrition: what kids need to eat to grow up healthy and strong. But she is also invested in helping students’ parents and grandparents stay healthy. That’s why the second workshop she developed for the summer 2019 project cycle focuses on nutrition tips for adults of all ages. Sandy will lead this lesson for participating students and their mothers, who will bring their new knowledge home to share with adult loved ones.

“The human body is vulnerable in different ways at different times in our lives,” Sandy explains. “We can protect our bodies and keep healthy by eating nutritious foods.” Sandy’s next workshop will provide nutrition recommendations for adults of three distinct age groups: 20-40 years old, 40-50 years old, and older than 50.

When it comes to adults under 40, Sandy says, there is something of a divide in today’s Santiago Atitlán. Some younger adults continue to do the daily physical labor that their families have done for centuries, like cutting firewood and harvesting crops. However, today’s younger adults are doing more and more sedentary work.

Sandy wants to impart that for those who do hard physical labor, it is important to provide the body with consistent energy and hydration. She recommends eating five times throughout the day and snacking on fruits—their high water content is a great way to stay hydrated! For those who spend a lot of the day sitting down, she recommends getting some exercise a few times a week and avoiding highly processed foods. “Exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym,” she says, “but even walking is good for your body, and it’s important that your children learn this healthy habit, too.”

What about middle-aged adults? When we reach our 40s, Sandy says, we need to eat plenty of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes that provide consistent energy and promote good digestive health. Middle-aged adults also need plenty of calcium to strengthen their bones and should keep on exercising and drinking plenty of water.

Older adults should steer clear of fried and processed foods to avoid large amounts of fat and cholesterol, which can cause heart problems, Sandy says. They should also continue to—you guessed it!—continue to exercise and hydrate often.

The bottom line? Sandy wants to teach the importance of learning and sustaining healthy habits from childhood through adulthood. “All of us need exercise, water, and a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and few processed foods,” she says. “There are important things to remember at each phase of life, but the most important lessons stay the same.”

This month, Sandy will lead this workshop in each of our five partner schools, where her nutrition lesson will be followed by a hands-on cooking class. The dish she plans to make with participants? Lentil burgers! The dish is both high in fiber and a big hit with eaters of all ages.

Your donation equips our Guatemalan project partners—young and old—with the tools they need to live healthier. Thank you for believing in the power of education to improve lives. Your support fuels our success!

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