Dear Mil Milagros Amigos-
Mother’s Day is a special day in Guatemala when women are honored by their children for their hard work and commitment. It is also a special day for Mil Milagros because we get to honor and celebrate the mothers and grandmothers who work tirelessly to improve the lives of their children. Mil Milagros staff visited the 130 mothers and grandmothers who were preparing the lunches throughout the first week of May to present them each with a rose as a small token of our appreciation for their dedication, love, and hard work.
Mil Milagros partners with over 400 mothers and grandmothers to prepare healthy meals for 830 hungry children at our six partner schools. They make over 150,000 lunches each year! Because of this special partnership, we are seeing healthier children who are better students, and a significant reduction in the dropout rate. Last year, 98% of the children supported by Mil Milagros graduated from sixth grade, compared to the Guatemala national average of 30-40%.
Depending on the size of the school, 2 to 10 mothers arrive in the morning each school day to start the firewood “stoves” and begin preparing lunch, which is served after classes between 12:00 noon and 12:30 p.m. The mothers work together with the teachers at each school to plan menus for the school year, including chow mein with fresh vegetables and chicken spaghetti with meat sauce, beef stew, chicken and rice, and a fresh piece of fruit on the side. The mothers and grandmothers constantly tell Mil Milagros how grateful they are. As one mother commented: "We can’t provide all of the different types of food that Mil Milagros provides for our children. If it weren’t for Mil Milagros, I don’t know what would happen to us. But thank God, you are here.” Another mother told us: "Honestly, I have seen that the lunch helps a lot because food costs a lot and there are eight people in my family. Three of my children get lunch at school and I don't have to worry about how I am going to feed them every day. I can save that money to give them something to eat in the afternoon. The program helps a lot. Thank you."
Many of the mothers and grandmothers also participate in workshops to designed to teach the mothers about healthy local foods and to strengthen our efforts to prevent malnutrition in our young children. The workshops are organized and delivered by our partners from the Wuqu’ Kawoq health care organization. In some communities here in the department of Sololá where Mil Milagros works, as many as 80% of the children are malnourished. The most recent series of workshops focused on the most nourishing local foods to eat when pregnant and lactating, how to treat nausea, and best practices for breast feeding. The workshops begin with a raffle of prizes (intended to encourage attendance) and conclude with a delicious snack. Every three months, our mother volunteers weigh and measure the children, and distribute a month’s supply of “chispitas”, which are nutrient-rich supplements. Mothers often give us updates on how their children are doing: “Thanks to this nutrition program, my child is growing and is no longer malnourished. She looks like she is six years old and should be going to school, but she is only four years old.” Wuqu’ Kawoq is providing us with an analysis of the children’s height and weight data so that we can track progress and make sure that children and families who need it, get individualized attention.
We at Mil Milagros are grateful for our mother and grandmother leaders. We also give thanks to and for our Amigos for your generous support and steadfast commitment. Together we are changing the lives of over 1,000 children each day in Guatemala.
Please continue to follow the children's progress and growth by viewing photos on Tumblr, following us on Facebook, and staying connected as a Mil Milagros supporter and amigo.
Nutrition workshop with Wuqu' Kawoq
A mother receives "chispitas" for her baby