Aug 25, 2017

Mardoqueo: A Story of One of Our Preschoolers

Mardoqueo, 4 years old
Mardoqueo, 4 years old

With the disease prevention unit of our In-School Health Training Campaign to Empower Maya Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future coming to an end at the beginning of August, Hilda, our community health educator has begun to deliver trainings on nutrition. The first training related to nutrition was about the “evils” of junk food. The objectives of the training were to disseminate information on the “evils of junk food,” to raise awareness  about the damages junk food can cause, and to inform the preschoolers of the consequences the consumption of “comida chatarra” has on their bodies. After assembling puzzles and discussing how junk food makes our teeth and bodies sad, all the kiddos vowed to eat more fruits and vegetables and to make healthier decisions when buying their daily snack.

The following week, when we were at our partner preschool’s in-school garden, one of our kids, Mardoqueo, 4 years old, was eating a bag of chips for his snack. Immediately, a few of his friends rushed to his side to ask why he was eating “comida chatarra,” instead of the fruit salad that was provided by the school. His peers began to recall what we discussed in our training and told him that his energy levels would be low, his body would not be as strong, and that he is at a higher risk of getting a cavity when eating junk food.  His response was that “the bad angel told me to eat it.” His classmates quickly told him that he has to do his best to resist the voice of the “bad angel,” and he agreed. Mardoqueo soon ditched the bag of chips in favor of the delicious fruit salad.

After overhearing this conversation between Mardoqueo and his friends, we asked Mardoqueo why it is important to eat healthy. According to him, eating healthy helps keep his body strong. He likes to eat watermelon and melon, and lettuce is among one of his favorite vegetables. If Mardoqueo could give a piece of advice to his friends about health and nutrition, it would be this: “Eat fruits and vegetables, don’t eat junk food, wash your hands before you eat brush your teeth teeth after.”

The story of Mardoqueo and his classmates is a prime example of the impact our health trainings are having on the lives of these children. Our preschoolers are not only retaining information from our trainings, but are adopting healthier habits in their everyday lives.

Mardoqueo planting beet root seeds
Mardoqueo planting beet root seeds
May 31, 2017

Microorganisms: A Story of Scary Monsters

A live "flor de vinagre"
A live "flor de vinagre"

After months spent tirelessly developing curriculum, the Rising Minds team has finally launched it’s In-School Health Training Campaign to Empower Maya Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future. Once a week, Hilda, our community health educator, who was featured in our previous report, delivers a health training to the 75 students, between the ages of 1.5 and  years old, of our partner preschool in San Juan La Laguna, surrounding our three main themes; disease prevention, nutrition, and mental health.  Each training works to address specific objectives within these themes. Furthermore, each training is accompanied by a hands-on activity or D.I.Y. element, which is always affordable and sustainable.

Our first unit is disease prevention and who knew learning about microorganisms could be so fun? The first 3 trainings focused on the three types of microbes; virus, bacteria, and fungus. While looking at cartoon depictions of the microbes, discussions were had about where we can find these microbes, how they can be transmitted, and how we can prevent the transmission of these “scary monsters.” These trainings culminated in students making their own microbes using crayon, tissue paper, play dough, the imaginations, and by drawing upon what they learned.

The next set of trainings focused on beneficial microorganisms. The students learned that there are several microbes that can actually be good for us, like yeast and “flor de vinagre.” A live flor de vinagre captured the attention of students while they discussed its ability to be used as a medicinal remedy. This fungus grows in vinegar and can be applied to the skin to help heal cuts and scrapes.

We will continue to spend the next few months on the disease prevention unit. Upcoming trainings include learning the basics of washing hands and making our own hand-sanitizer. As we complete the transition of our Educational Garden from San Pedro to San Juan, we are all super excited to host some of our trainings from the nutrition unit in our new space!

Feb 27, 2017

Hilda: The Story of a Community Health Educator

Hilda, our community health educator
Hilda, our community health educator

Since the launch of our GlobalGiving campaign before the new year, Rising Minds has welcomed a new member to our team, Hilda, pictured above, as our community health educator! For the past 15 years, Hilda has dedicated herself to working with women, children and families as a community health educator in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala.

Over the past few months Hilda has been working tirelessly developing the curriculum for our health trainings. Our health trainings have three main areas of focus: disease prevention, nutrition, and mental and physical health. Each training works to address specific objectives within these themes. All trainings are delivered via hands-on, interactive lessons with a D.I.Y element which is affordable and sustainable. We are currently working with a group of 20 students to finish the pilot stage of the trainings. We are super excited to be expanding the trainings to more schools within the next few weeks.

Hilda started working with Rising Minds over 5 years ago as a host mother for our cultural immersion and homestay programs. It is because of donors like you that we were able to hire her this year to work as our community health educator. When asked about her experience with Rising Minds Hilda responded with, “The work experience I have in Rising Minds is positive and innovative, the organization is a combination of changes that allow families, schools, and elderly people to have better practices, taking advantage of environmental resources without deteriorating them.” The success of our in-school health training campaign is predicated on our relationships with community members like Hilda. In the field of development, there are many cases of trainings and workshops being administered by foreigners, instead of local community members, in a local language, who understand the local norm. Hilda speaks the local Mayan dialect, understands cultural norms, and has a rapport within the community to affect necessary change.

“With the situation that our country is in, the most vulnerable are the children, and for that reason, emphasizing the need for the improvement of health education for children is imperative,” Hilda explains. For her, these health trainings are the best way to transmit knowledge regarding disease prevention, nutrition, and mental health.

Hilda facilitating a health training in San Juan
Hilda facilitating a health training in San Juan
 
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