Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID

by Wuqu' Kawoq
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
Fight Child Malnutrition in Guatemala During COVID
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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Home grown nutrition
Home grown nutrition

We are excited to share this great new BBC radio piece in which  17-year-old Rosa Angelica, from the community of Sololá, explores Guatemala’s halting progress toward the UN development goal of Zero Hunger. She interviews our Nutrition Program Manager Karyn Choy and Executive Director Anne Kraemer about how it came to be that families living amidst fields of crops have little access to nutritious food—and Guatemala, a major agricultural producer, has one of the highest rates of chronic child malnutrition in the world. 

They also talk about our comprehensive approach to working with families and communities to reverse malnutrition. “This isn’t something you can solve overnight;” Anne says. “It’s not something that you can fix with one pill. So the minimum time that we spend with a family doing education, providing them with food supplementation, medical care, is six months.”

In a commentary reflecting on his 15 years of work in this field, our Chief Medical Officer Peter Rohloff underscores the importance of cultivating broad-based efforts to transform the social and economic forces driving child malnutrition while also keeping each individual child and family in view.

He writes: “It is tempting to think of big problems like stunting only in aggregate, as national or global issues to be addressed incrementally. But the enteropathy, growth faltering, and developmental challenges that the child you see today in your clinic is a very real and urgent suffering. That child's caregivers may have few resources at their disposal and perhaps little hope that things can get better.”

Thank you for making it possible for us to make real progress across communities and partner with families to find hope in the fight against chronic malnutrition!

Budding gardeners
Budding gardeners
Nutrition consultation
Nutrition consultation

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Providing life saving supplies in rural Guatemala.
Providing life saving supplies in rural Guatemala.

With the economy and health system still struggling in the grasp of COVID, Guatemala is now moving into storm season. Hurricanes Iota and Eta have not only taken lives but also have wiped out crops and food reserves. So our nutrition program is more critical than ever.

Thanks to our supporters, we continue to scale up our efforts to fight hunger, delivering food and other essential supplies to the families most in need in our communities. Families like Doña Juana’s, who are doing their best to feed their children in their critical early years. The local health post had advised Doña Juana that her baby was dangerously small and underweight, but with her husband out of work due to COVID, the family had little other than tortillas to feed their son. Our community health workers supplied the family with a month of groceries, along with suggestions for accessing locally-grown herbs and vegetables.

These deliveries not only bring desperately needed sustenance; they also provide an important opportunity for us to connect with our patients and identify other health concerns that we can address.

We recognize that, particularly this year, there is enormous need around the globe, and that many of our supporters are experiencing their own hardships. For that reason, we are especially grateful to each of you for your generosity and partnership!

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Tomas is thriving
Tomas is thriving

Even before COVID-19, Guatemala had one of the highest rates of childhood stunting in the world. This challenge has exploded as the novel coronavirus has moved into the country. Government precautions--including shutting down public transportation, closing businesses, and enacting days-long curfews--have cut off income sources for many families. Data from the National Information System for Food Security and Nutrition showed that by early June, reports of children experiencing acute malnutrition had spiked to the rate of one every 30 minutes. Action Against Hunger found that the number of people in Guatemala needing emergency food aid doubled. 

In the face of these realities, we have stepped up our efforts to fight child malnutrition, delivering food and supplies to more than 1,000 families and continuing to provide guidance and care to maintain the gains we are making against malnutrition in Guatemala's most vulnerable communities. 

One example is young Tomás, who once was struggling to survive and now is thriving. When Tomás was two months old, his mother was having trouble producing breast milk, he was agitated during feedings, and he was severely underweight. Concerned, his parents reached out to Wuqu’ Kawoq, which had recently begun working in their community of Caserío Sucún in San Andrés Semetabaj, Sololá. 

We sent a community health worker, who consulted with the family to develop a plan to improve Tomás’ nutrition and health. The health worker advised the baby’s mother to drink plenty of water and to do her best to eat a diverse, healthy diet. She suggested the mother space out feedings so that she had enough breast milk and offered guidance on positions to help the  feedings go more smoothly. The Wuqu’ Kawoq team also provided formula and nutritional supplements for Tomás, along with regular monitoring. 

After nine months of working with Wuqu’ Kawoq, breastfeeding has improved, Tomás has reached a normal weight, and his mother has been supplementing his feedings with mashed fruits, vegetables, and beans. “Now he is heavy to hold in my arms," she laughs.

Delivering supplies to rural communities.
Delivering supplies to rural communities.
Counseling patients during COVID
Counseling patients during COVID
Working with mothers to help their children thrive
Working with mothers to help their children thrive
Tracking progress
Tracking progress

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The situation in Guatemala is changing fast. The number of COVID-19 cases has  increased having by the moment 2,265 confirmed cases , including 45 deaths, these numbers are from the last update of May 20th nationwide.

We are constantly making adjustments so we can continue to provide quality care in our communities. We continue providing telemedicine to thousands of our patients, and we are delivering food and medication to our patients even with the strict curfews and governmental restrictions on travel. We're working together with the Ministry of Health to make sure we are able to reach our patients who most desperately need care.

We’re making it possible for 320 doctors to return to their rural health posts. With COVID-19 advancing, these doctors, interns in their final year at the University of San Carlos, had been pulled from the field because they had no protective equipment. This left hundreds of rural clinics with no doctors. The University approached us for help, and thanks to one of our amazing donors, we will be providing the masks, gloves and other protective equipment required for them to return safely to their posts! They play an essential role in addressing malnutrition and chronic disease, along with responding to COVID-19. These doctors will be located in the poorest, most rural areas of Guatemala, which have been without medical staff for the last four weeks. 

We received funding from Miracles in Action for a joint communication and education campaign to get COVID-19 safety messages out via radio in Mayan languages across Guatemala to people who do not have internet access or phones. We’ll also be preparing messages related to domestic violence and other issues of particular concern during this time. We are working with many partner NGOs and institutions to make this possible.

We’re delivering 900  food aid baskets provided by United Way that will last a family of five for a month. These baskets couldn’t come at a more critical time. As businesses close and work becomes scarce, and all public transportation has been halted for weeks, a rising number of families are struggling to afford food. This will help us sustain the gains we have made in the fight against malnutrition.

As we face mounting challenges, we are so grateful for your ongoing support. Every single donation counts in the face of this enormous challenge.

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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
$444,343 raised of $500,000 goal
 
13,297 donations
$55,657 to go
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