Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala

by Wuqu' Kawoq
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Fight Covid and Climate Driven Hunger in Guatemala
Mother and child during nutrition visit.
Mother and child during nutrition visit.

One of the most exciting aspects of our work is the constant cycle of learning and adapting to provide the best possible care for our patients. A recent example is our “Baby Mobile” project, in which we are collaborating with researchers at Emory University on a study on the impact of using a smartphone application to help new mothers in rural Guatemala support their young children’s development.

In Guatemala, particularly in rural areas, parents normally don’t have access to information about typical developmental milestones and what they can do to encourage steps like sitting up and talking. In the Baby Mobile project, mothers learn about what they can do to foster their children’s development and how to work some of these simple activities into their days. They record their child’s sleep, food intake, and activity on the app and get customized feedback based on recommendations in each of these areas depending on their child’s age and health status.

This innovative approach leverages the popular use of smartphones in rural Guatemala to provide primary caregivers with the information and feedback they need to foster optimal development for their children. It underscores the importance of not only a nutritious diet but also adequate sleep and activities like playing, talking, and singing with their children. This is critical work in Guatemala, where 70% of under-5 children are at risk of sub-optimal development.

We’re also studying the use of wearable sensors, like leg wraps, to detect early signs of developmental delays, and the impact of daily egg consumption on infant growth and development. 

Thank you for supporting this life-changing work!

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A lot of our success closing health gaps in rural Guatemala relies on the efforts of our patients and families. We bring the expertise, medical equipment, and nutrients; they contribute the wisdom, dedication, and daily care required to achieve and sustain health.

One inspiring example is Doña Rosa, a mother who worked ferociously to help her daughter Genesis thrive. When we met Genesis three years ago in her village outside of Panajachel, she was weak from malnutrition and a chronic lung disease. Over the years, we partnered closely with Doña Rosa to make sure that Genesis got the care and nutrition she needed to get her lung disease under control and nudge her weight and height to healthy levels. It worked. Genesis, now four years old, has been managing well. Sadly, Doña Reyna, who had dedicated herself to bringing her daughter to good health, died recently from Covid. We are now working with Genesis' aunt so that she will not lose ground.

So far in 2021, our Family-Centered Nutrition Program has benefited 584 children. Partnering with their caregivers, we have helped ensure these children are eating more frequent, nutritious meals and making gains in their weight, height, and development. 

In addition to working hand-in-hand with families, we are working at a systems level to tackle malnutrition throughout Guatemala. We have developed a master class to share the strategies that have enabled us to reduce malnutrition across communities by 40%. These efforts are essential; Guatemala has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Together with families and other NGO and government partners, we are committed to changing this reality by expanding the fight to reduce malnutrition and its lifelong consequences across the country.

Thank you for making this lifesaving work possible!

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Josue
Josue

The last several weeks have been especially difficult in Guatemala, with COVID cases surging, hospitals overwhelmed, and vaccination rates still below 3%. The recent ouster of the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor is fueling mistrust of the government, with the unfortunate side effect of shaking confidence in government issued COVID vaccines. (Which in any case remain scarce.) These fragile conditions continue to take a toll on jobs and make it harder than ever for families to afford and access food. 

To meet these challenges, we are stepping up food deliveries and telemedicine. In addition, our nutrition teams continue to make regular visits to support families of children with chronic malnutrition.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in the field with some of these remarkable teams. In almost every case, we saw progress from previous visits in terms of weight and height, but in one instance, a young boy named Josué was losing ground because he had diarrhea that left him listless and disinterested in eating. Our tech provided some medication to clear his infection and reviewed hygiene measures with his mom, so hopefully the next visit will show good results!

I was struck by the genuine connections between our team and the families. It was clear that there was mutual respect and that the nutrition techs were offering very welcome and needed advice that made sense in the context of each family's situation. It’s encouraging to see the trust and progress that comes with building relationships with patients over time in their own languages and communities.

Thank you again for making these lifesaving efforts possible! 

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Childhood malnutrition and stunting has been a focus for Wuqu’ Kawoq since the beginning. Despite the immense efforts and successes thanks to our supporters and staff, the obstacles imposed by COVID-19 on communities and the economy make the fight long from over.

Since COVID began, we have ramped up our efforts against malnutrition by supporting over 1,000 families with vitamin and nutritional supplements. 

One child who began receiving nutritional support from Wuqu Kawoq in January 2021 is Nayla. She is 17 months old and is the fourth child in her family. Her family received 30 eggs, 30 supplements and two pounds of beans from Wuqu Kawoq every month during their five month nutrition intervention.

Our nutrition team tracked Nayla’s weight and height to make sure she was receiving effective care and so her family could see her progress. 

Our work together was a success, her mother learned the best combinations of food and meal timing to help Nayla improve her height and weight.

The vaccination rate is inching up in Guatemala - roughly five percent of the population has received at least one dose - offering promise for improvement in the coming months. In the meantime, we will continue to partner with families to address surging malnutrition, particularly in rural areas, to help build a healthier future for Guatemala’s children. 

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getting vaccinated
getting vaccinated

We are thrilled to share that thanks to the hard work of our Medical Director, Waleska López Canu, every member of the Wuqu’ Kawoq team has had their first Covid vaccination! She worked tirelessly with the Ministry of Health to make this happen so that we can continue our work in the field at full strength. Our next priority is getting our patients in rural Guatemala vaccinated. During our nutrition visits, we offer information about the importance of vaccines and address any of our patients’ concerns about safety to make sure they’re ready once vaccines become more widely available. 

We’re also excited to share the launch of our new study, Saqmolo’ (“egg” in the Mayan language Kaqchiquel). We are contributing to global research investigating impact of adding a daily serving of eggs to standard nutrition care. The results in other settings have been mixed. For example, in Malawi, the egg intervention had no overall effect on child development. This study will provide new evidence to help make future nutrition interventions as effective as possible.

These important developments, along with your support, help strengthen our work to reverse the course of the many children struggling with acute malnutrition in rural Guatemala.

Pictured below is Fátima, who became an orphan at 11 months when her mother, who was raising her alone, died from complications of diabetes, a condition that she could not afford to treat. Fátima is now under the care of her aunt, Doña Manuela, who also has an 18-month-old daughter. As a result of her mother’s illness and death, Fátima is severely undernourished, but she’s getting better. We have been working with Doña Manuela to space out breast feedings and supplement her own nutrition so that she is able to feed both girls and raise them as healthy sisters.

We are so grateful to you for making this work possible! 

Fatima
Fatima

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Organization Information

Wuqu' Kawoq

Location: Bethel, VT - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @wuqukawoq
Project Leader:
Anne Kraemer Diaz
Bethel, VT Guatemala
$483,630 raised of $600,000 goal
 
14,095 donations
$116,370 to go
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