Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children

by Mayanza, Inc.
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Improving health of 500 Guatemalan school children
Lola our health educator distributes masks/soap.
Lola our health educator distributes masks/soap.

Reflections on 2020 for Mayanza

What a year it has been!  As we make plans for our projects that will come in 2021, its important to evaluate and reflect upon what we have accompished despite and because of the pandemic in 2020.

We started off 2020 busy with preparations for our trip to Santiago.  Some highlights from our February trip include:

  • Providing dental screening, fluoride varnish, anemia screening and personal hygiene supplies for almost 550 children
  • Launching our first Family Health Fair at the 4 schools we serve and reaching over 360 people with health education and supplies
  • Bringing our largest, interprofessional team of health care providers, students and volunteers
  • Graduating our first class of women from our Diabetes Prevention Program and enrolling our next class

Shortly after this trip, word of  COVID was spreading across the globe.  In an effort to control the virus, there were extensive lockdown measure in Santiago and we began to its effects on the families and school children of Santiago.  We shifted our efforts and responded in the following ways:

  • Partnership with the Mother Artisans group of Puerta Abierta to manufacture and distribute 1500 cloth masks in April.  These were distributed by our health educator to community members most in need with handwashing education and 600 bars of soap.
  • Collaboration with Olla Comunitaria, a volunteer led organization of women from Santiago who provided hot meals and bags of healthy food to families.  Over 500 families benefited from this initiative.
  • After a social worker identified the families most at need, we provided bi-weekly bags of healthy food including protein and fruits and vegetable to 30 families for 4 months.
  • In a joint effort with the Sparks Foundation, 186 families were gifted with a large bag of nutritious food
  • Partnership with Respira, a Guatemalan organization that created high flow nasal cannulas to donate the machines to two local health centers, Hospitalito Atitlan and Centro de Salud.

After the initial crisis, it became clear that this pandemic would not soon resolve.  Again, we shifted our response to provide a more sustainable solution to the current problems.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Partnership with Imap to provide education and supplies to create sustainable family gardens.
  • Programs in Chacaya and Tzanchaj that provided women with education, skills, and supplies to grow family gardens and raise chickens which will provide much needed protein and vegetables to their families.  We plan to continue these projects that will benefit the individual families and community long after the pandemic has passed.
  • We piloted our first online Auction of handmade Guatemalan good in December with an overwhelming response.  We plan to continue this in 2021.

And will all of this, we are not done yet.  We are not yet certain when we will return to Santiago, however upcoming projects for 2021 include:

  • Continuing our Diabetes Prevention program focusing on healthy food choices, exercise sessions, goal setting and stress management.
  • Based on the data from our anemia program, we will be launching a targeted program to the families of the children who are most at need with education, health supplies and food.
  • Continuing our home garden and chickens programs.

To maintain our ability to provide help where it is needed most, we need your help.  There are a  number of ways that you can support Mayanza during this time. 

1. DONATION: As always, 100% of our donations go directly toward our programs in Guatemala. We have zero adminstrative fees for the work that we do.  Did you know that the CARES Act provides additional tax relief for donors. If you take the standard deduction on your 2020 tax return, you may still claim an “above the line” deduction of up to $300 for cash donations to charitable organizations, like Mayanza, on gifts made by December 31.

2. MAYANZA MERCH: We have launched a website with merchandise that supports our programs and helps to create awareness of our organization.

3. JOIN US: We will be hosting a series of webinars over the next few months showcasing and highlighting the artisans from around Lake Atitlan.  Join us for tortilla making, chocolate tasting and to appreciate how textiles are handmade just to mention a few.  Our first session is on Saturday, January 23rd at 6:30pm ET where we will learn to make handmade tortillas and pico de gallo with the teachers from la Puerta Abierta, one of the schools we partner with.  It is sure to be a lot of fun! You can purchase tickets here.

4. Finally, you can also support us with every purchase that you make from Amazon Smile.

Thank you for your support during this year that has challenged each of us in so many ways.  With your support, we hope plan to move into 2021 prepared to make a difference in the lives of the children and families of Santiago!

Nutritious food baskets for families.
Nutritious food baskets for families.
Chickens provide a much needed source of protein.
Chickens provide a much needed source of protein.
Join us!
Join us!

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Planning the best location for a garden.
Planning the best location for a garden.

Hello from Mayanza!

In the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week.  It is a time to show our gratitude and celebrate our families with good food to nourish our bodies and our souls.  We wanted to let you know how much we appreciate YOU and your support of Mayanza.  Your support allows us to provide programming that directly affects the people of Santiago Atitlan.  Through monthly and individual donations we have been able to continue programs and plan for new initiatives.  Here a a few highlights of the past few months:

  • COVID Food Insecurity: Mayanza continue to partner with a grassroots community organization, Olla Comunitaria, who provided hot meals and bags of healthy food to people in need.  Foods like eggs, corn, beans, oil, oatmeal, and fresh vegetables were given to families with children who have not had work since the pandemic began.

 

  • Community Gardens and Chickens Program: Mayanza supports two initiatives in the neighborhoods of Chacaya and Tzanchaj to enable women to learn new skills to become more self-sufficient, increase access to healthy food and provide a source of income.  Our team met with the women to determine if a home garden or a community plot would best serve their needs.  Then, they were given education around maintaining a garden and chickens.  Already radishes are ready to harvest and this is just the beginning. The excess food created can be traded or sold. We know that empowering women benefits the whole community!

 

  • Coming Soon- Partnering with Artisans to raise awareness and funds: We are hosting a Guatemalan Handmade Goods Auction at the beginning of December, just in time for holiday gift shopping and in the new year, a webinar series focused on aspects of life in Guatemala.  Please look for more information about these initiatives that will be coming soon!

We are grateful for you - our supporters and hope that you will continue our support as we move into 2021!  Please consider a donation to Mayanza this Giving Tuesday, December 1st to help us to continue working in Santiago.

Thank you! 

The Mayanza Team

The gardens are growing!
The gardens are growing!
Fruits of our labor!
Fruits of our labor!
Chickens provide an important source of protein.
Chickens provide an important source of protein.
This is just some of the delicious meals to come!
This is just some of the delicious meals to come!
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I hope that you and your family are well!  I am frequently asked by supporters of Mayanza, "what's happening in Santiago?" and so I wanted to send you some updates and let you know what is happening in the community.

In the next week, the airports will be opening and the restrictions are gradually loosening throughout the country based upon the number of cases reported in each department.  As you can imagine, the rate of testing is low as there is limited access to testing and people fear the stigma that accompanies a diagnosis.  Although restrictions are beginning to lift, many of the artisans and other people who work within the tourist industry continue to struggle to feed their families.   

We have responded to these needs in a number of ways.  We have formed some new partnerships with other organizations and friends in Sanitago.  I am excited to share how your generous donations have helped us respond to the crisis that has evolved from the COVID restrictions in Guatemala since March!

1. COVID Prevention Program:  Mayanza partnered with the Artesanos de Puerta Abierta, a group of artisan mothers from a school that we collaborate with, Puerta Abierta, to design, create and distribute 1500 environmentally friendly reusable face masks.  We also purchased 680 bars of hand soap and our health educator, Lola distributed them in the communities of Tzanchaj, Chacaya and Santiago along with education about mask use and hand washing.  In addition, over $2,000 was sent to purchase masks, gloves, disinfectant and other personal protective equipment for frontline responders in Santiago.  For the school community of the David LaMotte School in Tzanchaj, each family was given a month's worth of hand and body soap that is so important to prevent the spread of COVID and other infectious diseases in Santiago.

 2. COVID Food Insecurity Response:  We partnered with a grassroots organization called Olla Comunitaria who have provided 400 bags of food that can feed a family for a month and 730 individual meals to members of the community in need.  Since May, we have worked with 30 vulnerable women and their families in the community of Tzanchaj by providing bi-weekly supplies of nutritious food, hygiene supplies and health education.  Additionally, we partnered with an organization in San Lucas Tolimon called iMAP to plant a garden with nutritious food for a family and monthly food for a family of 6 which benefited over 57 people, 4 organizations and 2 local businesses in the process.  Finally, we partnered with the Sparks Foundation to provide a bag of food and hygiene supplies to 186 families in two of the school communitites that we support, Panul and Chu'ul.

3. COVID Treatment Program:  Mayanza partnered with Respira, a Guatemalan supported company that manufactures high flow oxygen cannulas for the support of COVID related respiratory dysfunction, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases to the Centro de Salud CAIMI clinic and Hospitalito Atitlan.  These are the two health centers for the community of Santiago Atitlan.

I hope that you can see the breadth of areas that Mayanza is working within Guatemala.  Your generous donations are putting food on the table for so many families and we are collaborating with a number of organizations to transition our response to a community generated, more sustainable, long term solution to food insecurity in Santiago.  More to come in our next update!!  If you are able, please consider a donation to help us to continue our work in Guatemala.  Every donation goes directly to helping to feed the families of this community.

Stay safe and warmest regards from the team at Mayanza!

Lola distributes masks, soap and education
Lola distributes masks, soap and education
Women received food and hygiene supplies
Women received food and hygiene supplies
Healthy food for families in need!
Healthy food for families in need!
Creation of a new garden.
Creation of a new garden.
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PA students help us to accomplish our goals!
PA students help us to accomplish our goals!

February Updates:

Since our last update to you, the team at Mayanza has been very busy including taking our biggest group of volunteers to Santiago in February.  We accomplished many important things while in-country.  Here are a few of the highlights.

  • We continued our school clinic, where we provide fluoride varnish, oral health screening and supplies, measure height and weight, check hemoglobin levels for anemia and administer a dose of anti-parasite medication.  This trip we saw our highest number so far - 601 children over 4 schools! We have analyzed the hemoglobin data over time and continue to see a significant improvement in the decreasing level of anemia over time.
  • We were so proud to graduate our first group of women from the year-long Diabetes Prevention Through Lifestyle Modification curriculum!  These women formed a support group through exercise and learning about nutrition, stress managment and goal setting.  We also held an orientation session for the new group and collected data both pre and post intervention to evaluate our program.
  • After careful planning by our team of physician assistants, we implemented the first Family Health Fair at each of the four schools.  We educated the community of the schools in nutrition including portion control and culturally competent healthy substitutions, ways to exercise at home, diabetes prevention, dental hygiene and hand washing.  We also screened the participants for anemia, measured their height and weight, adminstered anti-parasite medication and daily multivitamins.  And for the first time, we partnered with local organizations including Hospitalito Atitlan, Saving Mothers, Pueblo a Pueblo and Tui'k Ruch' Lew that provided education in mental health, women's reporductive health and contraception, nutrition and water filtration and clean burning stoves.  Overall, we saw 366 people from the community who received education from each station and were given toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap.
  • Finally, at the health fair, we conducted a health related needs assessment.  It provided a number of insights of this community and will help us target our programs to the areas that are most needed.

Changes in Reponse to COVID-19

Since the arrival of COVID, the leadership team has pivoted our focus and we are now raising funds for 2 areas of focus. The country has been locked down since March 12 and families who were barely surviving are now without food. Now, we are raising funds to help combat the high rate of malnutrition and have partnered with an organization who can deliver a hot meal for $1USD.  In addition, although Santiago does not have the capacity to manage patients with COVID-19, the virus have arrived in the community and the first responders must transport patients to referral centers.  We are working with community members to acquire and manufacture medical supplies like gloves, face shields, plastic protective suits and hand sanitizer for distribution to first responders including firefighters, EMTs and medical professionals.

As you can imagine, your help is incredibly needed during this time!  Your money goes further in Guatemala and can make a huge impact on the need in this community!  Thank you for your generosity in the past and please consider a donation at this time to help protect the first responders and impact the devastating effects of malnutrition on this community.

We saw 601 students this trip - amazing!
We saw 601 students this trip - amazing!
Women of the community participated in the Fair.
Women of the community participated in the Fair.
The school clinics are very well attended.
The school clinics are very well attended.
Our first group to graduate!
Our first group to graduate!
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We are excited to report that we will be returning to Santiago in February with our largest group yet!  We will have physician assistants, nurses, physician assistant and public health students and many non-medical volunteers on our team.  We will see the children in the schools and provide a physical examination, dental screening exam, apply fluoride varnish and anti-parasite medication, measure their growth over the past six months and check for anemia.  Since we expect to see over 500 children, every volunteer is needed!

New this year - we are supporting a community health fair for the parents and siblings of the school children that we see.  We will offer educational material and supplies focusing on dental health, nutrition, mental health, anemia prevention, diabetes, exercise and child development.  In addition, we have partnered with a number of local not-for-profit organizations within the community and are grateful for this opportunity for collaboration.  We are expecting over 500 people to attend this event unique to this community.

We will also end our inaugural diabetes prevention program for women with a celebration and welcome a new group of women into this important education program supported by Mayanza.  We are looking forward to networking and receiving updates from our many partners on the ground in Santiago.  

Thank you so much for your support.  We could not make this impact on the health of so many children and their families without your help!  We look forward to sharing our success with you when we return in February!

Many thanks! Muchas gracias! Maltoix!

Jami

 

  

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Organization Information

Mayanza, Inc.

Location: Rocky Hill, NJ - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @mayanza_guatemala
Project Leader:
Jami Smith
Rocky Hill, NJ United States
$25,911 raised of $30,000 goal
 
231 donations
$4,089 to go
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