Aug 16, 2020

Healthy Home Gardens for the Long-term

Preparing the soil for planting
Preparing the soil for planting

During the past few months, the COVID-19 virus has continued to spread across Guatemala. Fortunately, as far as we know, no one in the Community Finance Program has been infected to date. While many people in their communities were minimizing the threat of the virus, our local team was ensuring that all of the program’s families had access to the most up to date and accurate information. Once those communication channels were established a culture of prioritizing the health and safety of the community quickly emerged. From that solid foundation, the local team was then able to design and implement further support.

Since economic and food insecurity was quickly on the rise due to the loss of jobs and other income generating activities, the team decided that providing home garden kits was the most sustainable and cost-effective way to support the families. We provided seed packets, how-to guides, and a video series that taught them how to start their own home gardens. Each family received 250 radish seeds, 250 swiss chard seeds, 250 spinach seeds and an ounce of mustard seeds. These vegetables are not only high in nutrition, they are also easy to cultivate and fit into the typical diet of the region.

Since receiving the support, the families have already harvested baskets and baskets of nutrition. They were so successful, that many of them began selling their extra harvest to their neighbors as an additional source of income. Many family members told us how enjoyable and satisfying it was to grow their own gardens and are planning to continue this practice even after things return to “normal”.

So far, there is every indication that the virus will continue to be a threat for the remainder of this year. And as some of the nearby communities become higher risk, the need for more support is increasing. Currently, the local team is planning on creating at-home medical kits that will consist of basic medications such as ibuprofen, simple thermometers, vitamins and other immune system boosters.

Receiving their seed packets
Receiving their seed packets
Showing off her home-grown salad
Showing off her home-grown salad
Aug 11, 2020

You helped Project Hearts give water

The stream two years ago. There is less water now.
The stream two years ago. There is less water now.

In addition to providing vital W.A.S.H. education to children and adults here in Baitoa, DR, Project Hearts is also committed to making sure residents have the resources they need in order to put into practice what we teach about improving health via proper sanitation & hygiene, all of which depends heavily on having sufficient clean water. While we usually receive funding for our subsidized water tank and filter program, we do not always have enough money available to cover the costs of full donations to families who cannot afford to invest in water solutions. Thanks to your generosity, though, we have been able to assist such families, including that of Kenia.

 

Kenia’s home was situated right next to a stream, which is ideal for many families here in Baitoa who do not have reliable access to water. However, over the past few years, the stream has disappeared and all that remains is a rocky trench.

 

During the construction of their donated home, a water tank was cut and placed inside the home in order to provide them with running water. After a while, though, it began leaking and the family no longer had access to water in their home. For over a year they had to bring water from a nearby neighbor’s house.

 

But because of your gifts, we were finally able to complete the installation of a new tank – placed on a raised platform so Kenia and her family do not have to collect and carry buckets of water in order to simply wash dishes, flush the toilet, clean the house, or bathe. This will allow them to be healthy, especially during a time when something as basic as washing hands could save their lives.

 

This donation is especially meaningful to Kenia. For a long time she has struggled as a single mother after finally separating from her husband, who was emotionally abusive to her because of her darker skin. To provide for her three sons, Kenia cleaned houses for years, despite having severe arthritis and other debilitating health issues. In 2018 her physical condition finally deteriorated to the point that she could no longer work, this at the same time that her improvised indoor water tank began leaking.  Kenia is so grateful to have received this help!

Kenia's new water tank, donated by PH & YOU!
Kenia's new water tank, donated by PH & YOU!
Jul 14, 2020

Update #7 - Responding to COVID-19

Teaching kids about proper hand-washing technique
Teaching kids about proper hand-washing technique

As with the rest of the world, for the past several months COVID-19 has been impacting Baitoa – our health, our social norms, and our economy. From March to the beginning of June the entire country was on “quarantine,” with only the most necessary businesses being allowed to open. This meant that we had to temporarily suspend our current Community Health Leadership classes. Despite the government ordering the “re-opening” of the country, we’ve elected to keep our office closed, with staff continuing to work from home. We made this decision because of the huge increase in daily cases throughout the nation since the quarantine ended. Since we don’t see much hope of the spread of COVID-19 slowing down soon, we are planning to start recording classes and sending them to our students via WhatsApp (we would use a virtual call tool, but electricity/internet is intermittent where most of the women live, so that isn’t a practical solution for us).

 

But just because we aren’t currently able to meet with our CHLs-in-training doesn’t mean they aren’t still making an impact on their communities. We made sure our all our CHLs had the knowledge they needed in order to take care of their neighbors’ health during this pandemic. Proper hygiene and hand-washing has always been a key topic in our courses, so the women were well-prepared to teach others about the best way to combat the virus. We also shared more specific information about COVID-19 – including what a coronavirus is, this virus’ particular symptoms, and how to protect against it. This information has greatly helped all of our CHLs, and we’ve gathered a couple of their stories to show how they’ve been serving in their communities:

 

"Thanks to Project Hearts and the education we received related to hygiene and hand-washing we have been able to provide workshops that allow us to oppose this pandemic."

-- Senia, community of Doña Agueda, Baitoa

 

“In the Community Health Leadership class we learned many important things, including the correct form of washing hands, which now is very important because of COVID-19, because it’s the principle form of avoiding getting sick with the virus. During the pandemic, before the curfew and lockdown started, I was giving a presentation in a school, before they closed. We taught the students about the proper method of washing hands and how important it is. I also visited several homes and we always touched on the topic of hygiene because of the pandemic. I’m grateful to Project Hearts for giving me the opportunity to participate in the course, which has allowed me to visit various homes in my neighborhood to help them prevent getting the COVID-19 virus using the correct form of washing hands in addition to social distancing.”

-- Bery, community of Los Peladeros, Baitoa

 

We’re so grateful to all of you for having helped to prepare our leaders for such a time as this! Thank you!!

 

P.s. - Join us in helping those affected economically by COVID-19 in Baitoa, Dominican Republic by participating in the upcoming bonus matching day on July 15th! GlobalGiving will be matching donations of $100-$1,000. Check it out: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/pandemic-relief-fund/

Educating communities about COVID-19
Educating communities about COVID-19
Addressing economic impact of COVID-19 with food
Addressing economic impact of COVID-19 with food

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