Project #7817

Primeros Pasos

by Inter-American Health Alliance
Reforestation Project by Women
Reforestation Project by Women's Group


Primeros Pasos had a great first half of the year! We have expanded many of our medical services and added two new programs, Nutritional Recuperation and Scholarships for Continuing Education. So far we've seen over 4,000 patients in the clinic, including community members and students from the local schools, in addition to providing educational services to over a 100 participants in our programs.  

With the help of our new doctor, the clinic is now offering our patients new services, testing and materials. Patients can now be tested for HIV, TB and strep throat without having to travel into Xela. Our entire staff also received a workshop on HIV and one of our staff members is currently being trained to be an HIV counselor, providing our patients not only with medical help but also social support. 

Primeros Pasos is also expanding patient services by partnering with other organizations. The clinic hosted two Medical Campaigns last month, one for vaccines and the other for vision. Our vaccine campaign lasted several days and was facilitated by nursing students from a local nursing program in Xela. The vision campaign was a combined effort with international Cuban physicians and local ophthalmologists. In just one morning, over 100 patients received eye exams and low cost glasses. 

Right now Primeros Pasos is visiting some of the most distant communities in the Palajunoj Valley through our Mobile Clinics Program. Our teams of medical professionals and health educators go out into these communities for approximately four to five days and set up temporary medical stations. Many of these patients rarely leave their isolated communities due to lack of transportation and resources. It is only through this outreach that many receive medical attention. Our first mobile clinic of the year saw over 300 patients in the distant community, Las Majadas. 

We are excited to share our successes with you!



Many people don't know that the overall rate of malnutrition in Guatemala is the highest in Central America and higher than many African countries. Primeros Pasos' newest program, Nutritional Recuperation, started in January with the mission of supporting chronically malnourished children and their families through medical treatment and nutritional education, in turn improving children’s health and promoting healthy homes. The program is now in full swing and showing great progress. The nutrition team began the year by weighing and measuring over 150 children under the age of five in 11 public daycares in the Valley. The 25 most malnourished children and their families were selected to participate in the one-year pilot program.

Over the course of this year, the parents attend biweekly educational seminars, which include interactive activities about hygiene and health. Theses classes are well attended with over 90% participation rates, and feedback from the families is positive. Each family receives monthly supplement packets containing nutrient fortified beverage mix, protein-packed meat substitute, and chewable multivitamins. Recently, the families received a cooking workshop from a local chef, where the parents learned to prepare healthy meals, such as Chinese rice with the meat substitute and a vegetable stew made with Incaparina. Each family was given a handmade, highly visual recipe book specifically designed for illiterate adults and new recipes will be added each month. 

Progress is monitored through tri-monthly medical check-ups, monthly weigh-ins, and periodic parasite checks.  All clinic visits are free in addition to any medication that they may need. The baseline medical exams revealed that almost every child had intestinal parasites. In most cases, children in the area receive enough daily calories, but often lack sufficient nutrients due to parasites and unvaried diets. Over the last few months, there has been noted weight gain in most children; they are looking healthier and parents are reporting higher spirits and energy. The caregivers at the day cares have also seen improved habits in hygiene from the participating families.  

With the hopes of making the program more holistic, the nutrition team is performing a full needs assessment during home visits. These have proven invaluable in understanding the issues and challenges that the families face. Primeros Pasos is also in the beginning stages of partnering with various organizations to address basic needs that these families lack, such as water and sanitation. 

Many people in the communities are learning about our Nutritional Recuperation Program through word of mouth and we have seen an increase in interest for participation. Primeros Pasos is working hard to improve the program and looking for ways to sustainably expand our reach and breadth in the Valley.   



Thanks to the work of the Women's Health Education Program (EBS) the Valley is much more green! Two women's groups in their third and final year in the program came together to address the problem of deforestation, and in March, began planning a community project. They heard from a horticulturalist on the importance of reforestation, which trees are best in the Valley, and how to plant trees correctly. The women then secured tree donations from The National Forresty Association (INAB) and AGRECUA, a local construction company in the area. They then teamed up with kids from the local schools to plant over 350 trees in Tierra Colorada Baja and Llanos de Pinal. Not only did these women help their local environment, but they also created an educational experience for the local students.  



"Thank God that there is a clinic with free medicine that is close to the communities in the Valley. It is a great help to us here. There are many children in Candelaria that need to be seen by a doctor. When kids in my class are sick, I tell their mothers that they need to go to the the Primeros Pasos Clinic."    -Lucía, Teacher from Candelaria

"Zanahoria! Manzana! Aguacate!” Kids scream out a flurry of fruits and vegetables, practically falling out of their seats to raise their hands to volunteer for the activity I am leading with other volunteers from Primeros Pasos on nutrition in this 3rd grade classroom. In my first week at Primeros Pasos, such was the environment I was thrown into as a Children’s Health Educator: fast-paced, demanding, and rewarding."    -Olivia, Children's Health Education Volunteer 

"I am the second of five brothers, and my older brother had to leave school only after completing the 9th grade to help my dad with household expenses. My dad works in the field and last year he lost his crop by the tropical storm- we were left with nothing. I thought of working instead of studying, it pained me to cause my dad so much expenses. However, soon after Primeros Pasos gave me a scholarship. Now I can study calmly knowing that the money is there for me. I have a high average in school now and I'm also being trained on various topics each month as part of the program. I am very grateful for Primeros Pasos."    -Fernando, Primeros Pasos Scholarship Recipient

"I am the mother of 11 children. I raise them with my husband, and we have strong faith in God. He helps us to move forward against the lack of resources, work and opportunities that make it difficult to support all of our children. My youngest son's is making progress thanks to the Nutrition Program at Primeros Pasos. His energy and spirits are on the rise."    -Paula, Nutritional Recuperation Participant 

"Before coming to the EBS group, I did not have any experience in community events. But after learning the importance of women's participation in the community, I have integrated with other groups to learn different things and share what I have learned in EBS. Thanks to Primeros Pasos for giving women the opportunity to learn about new and productive topics, even if at some point we thought we could not learn. What we have learned is absolutely useful to us as women."    -Louisa, Women's Health Education Program (EBS) Participant 


For frequent updates about Primeros Pasos, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Want to get involved? Visit our Web site to learn about our volunteer opportunities and more ways to support the efforts of Primeros Pasos!

Volunteer Measuring Students for Check-ups
Volunteer Measuring Students for Check-ups
Outside Health Workshop
Outside Health Workshop
Cooking Demonstration in Nutritional Recuperation
Cooking Demonstration in Nutritional Recuperation
Mobile Clinic Patients
Mobile Clinic Patients
Toothbrush and Soap for Every Kid
Toothbrush and Soap for Every Kid


Since the beginning of 2012, Primeros Pasos has been in full swing operating all established programs and also initiating new ventures. Here is a short report of what we have been up to for the last four months.



It is with great pleasure that we welcome our new Medical Director Dr. Gabriela Gonzala to the Primeros Pasos team! Dra. Gonzala not only has over 10 years of experience practicing medicine in rural communities in Guatemala, but she also brings a kind and energetic attitude to the clinic. With her support, the Clinic will further its stride toward lasting achievements in improved health for the Palajunoj Valley! 



We also welcome our new Development Director Megan Peyton. Ms. Peyton recently finished her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala working in over 20 primary schools on a project similar to Primeros Pasos' Healthy Schools program. Before moving to Guatemala, she worked in Austin, Texas with various nonprofits in fundraising, Web design, volunteer management, and communications. We are very happy to have her support to create a more sustainable clinic to serve the Palajunoj Valley for years to come.



This year marks the beginning of Primeros Pasos' Nutrition Program aimed at combating the high rates of malnutrition among children in the Palajunoj Valley. Over the last four months the Nutrition Program team has worked hard to launch this important program, starting by identifying 25 malnourished children under 5 years old within the Valley. In March the selected 25 families met for a meeting to discuss the requirements of participating in the program. In April, all of the children received their baseline checkups, which revealed that almost every child (around 90%) had intestinal parasites. As a result, our team plans to increase the emphasis on household hygiene in their biweekly workshops, which also began in April. Every family has now received two months worth of vitamins, nutrient fortified beverage mixes (Incaparina), and medicine to treat their parasites. Thanks to the help of our dental practicum student, Primeros Pasos was also able to secure funding to make sure that each child will receive dental exams and treatment.



In January, Primeros Pasos began offering secondary education scholarships to eight students from The Palajunoj Valley. With the help of primary school teachers and principals, we began by identifying children with academic potential and limited financial resources. Along with providing funds to cover school costs, our scholars and their parents have been receiving monthly workshops focused on topics such as community leadership, self-esteem, and health. In April, students turned in their report cards. As part of the conditions of their scholarship, all students must maintain a high grade point average to continue receiving support from Primeros Pasos. We are proud to say that the first report cards of the year showed our students progressing in the studies!



Our Stairway to Good Health Program, which operates with a three-year curriculum, is currently working at every level to educated and empower women in the Palajunoj Valley. Two groups in Tierra Colorada Alta and Llanos de Pinal have graduated to the final year of their program, which means it's time to start thinking about community projects! The women are interested in a project to address the problem of deforestation. They are thinking about teaming up with the sixth grade students to plant several trees in the schools in the area, helping not only the environment, but also creating an educational experience for the local students. Our team is working hard right now to recruit women in Candelaria for a new group. The Xepache women's group that was started in February continues to have workshops focused on nutrition, hygiene, and first aid. The women from Tierra Colorada Baja are also helping with this new group in Xepache as part of their final community project. In Bella Vista, the women are beginning the community diagnostic for a future project.  



The Heathy Schools team has tackled the biggest hurdle of the year - Llanos de Pinal, the largest school in the Valley. All classes in this 1,300-student school have come to the clinic to have their yearly checkup and health lessons. In addition to finishing up with these classes, the team also began their outreach component of the program by visiting schools to give specific lessons such as nutrition, child's rights, and trash management.



In March we hosted two alternative spring break groups for a week of service and fun! The groups worked on several projects around the clinic including painting, gardening, and signage making. We also had groups go out into the community to complete projects for the schools. Our energetic and enthusiastic volunteers built desks, painted classrooms, and even constructed a hand washing station! We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to share the clinic with these students each year and for the much needed help that they bring. 


For frequent updates about Primeros Pasos, please join us on facebook at!/pages/Primeros-Pasos/7914146313!

Want to get involved? Visit our website at to learn about our volunteer opportunities and more ways to support the efforts of Primeros Pasos!

Mobile Dental Clinic
Mobile Dental Clinic

Since the beginning of 2012, Primeros Pasos has been in full-swing operating all established programs and also initiating new ventures. As we kick-off the new calendar year, we would like to take a moment to inform you of all the achievements we made throughout 2011 and what we look forward to accomplishing in 2012. 


In October and November of 2011, the Primeros Pasos team traveled out into the Palajunoj Valley visiting day care centers to provide health care and preventative health education to the under school-aged children in the communities we serve. In total, 258 children in 12 day care centers were treated and taught this year. 


Of the 3,768 walk-in patients served, the most common illnesses were bacterial infections in either the respiratory or intestinal systems. Of the 2,493 children that were seen through Primeros Pasos’ Healthy Schools Program, 46% provided samples for analysis.  Of the samples received, over 40% showed signed of parasitic infections.  

As an innovative approach to dental care, Mobile Dental Clinics were introduced the later part of the year taking dental services on the road to the furthest Valley communities – Bella Vista and Las Majadas.  In total, the Clinic Dentist extracted 172 infected teeth from 80 children and adults.

The clinic's work was supported by 166 volunteers both from within Guatemala and from various countries around the world. These individuals treated patients, taught children and women, established curriculum, took community diagnostics, made repairs to clinical and school facilities, and analyzed data taken by the clinic. 


The annual "Give the Gift of Health" Holiday Campaign was another wonderful success this year.  Each year, we update a special section of our website to facilitate this campaign it runs from Thanksgiving until the week after New Years.  This season, we raised just under $5,000 toward clinic operations and programs.  A large portion of these funds came from our amazing supporter at Boston University via  The holidays are a perfect time to thank our dedicated contributors like you for their generosity throughout the year.  We at Primeros Pasos sincerely appreciate your support and efforts ~ we wish the very best for you all in 2012!


It is with great pleasure that we WELCOME New Medical Director Dr. Ilsy Córdova to the Primeros Pasos team! Dr. Córdova comes to us with a sincere passion and ample experience in providing quality medical attention to children and families in rural Guatemala. With her support, the Clinic will further its stride toward lasting achievements in improved health for the Palajunoj Valley!


This year marks the launch of Primeros Pasos' Nutrition Program aimed at combating the high rates of malnutrition among children in the Palajunoj Valley!  Through the support of the GlobeMed Chapter a Georgetown University, Primeros Pasos has officially established two new clinic positions -- Nutritionist and Assistant Program Director -- to focus on the effective implementation of this program.  Together with Clinic staff, the Nutrition team will identify 25 malnourished children under 5 years old within the Valley.  They will aid in the improvement of the children’s overall health status and provide an extensive health education curriculum to the children’s parents in an effort to increase the families' abilities to make better health choices, especially with respect to diet and hygiene. 


Primeros Pasos has helped to support young women studying in Chichicastengango by giving them academic support and scholarships. This program has helped to empower women to continue in education and build up their marketable skills base.

In 2012, we are very excited to announce the beginning of a scholarship program within the Palajunoj Valley. This year, through the generosity of several individuals, Primeros Pasos will be supporting five young adults to continue their education passed 6th grade and into high school. We look forward to establishing and expanding this program to support young people becoming educated leaders within our community.


For frequent updates about Primeros Pasos, please join us on facebook at!/pages/Primeros-Pasos/7914146313!

Want to get involved?  Visit our website at to learn about our volunteer opportunities!

Day Care Center
Day Care Center
New Medical Director - Doctor Ilsy Cordova
New Medical Director - Doctor Ilsy Cordova
2011 Annual Women
2011 Annual Women's Program Holiday Event
Give the Gift of Health Annual Holiday Campaign
Give the Gift of Health Annual Holiday Campaign
Everyone enjoys the Holiday Event
Everyone enjoys the Holiday Event


Annual Physical Exam
Annual Physical Exam

As the year draws to a close, Primeros Pasos and its Inter-American Health Alliance (IAHA) partners have been busy working to improve health in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.  After a spectacular summer peak of volunteers, dedicated staff and volunteers continue to provide quality preventative health education and healthcare to the children and families in rural Guatemala.  Highlights from the last few months include:

  • Support at the Primeros Pasos Clinic by over 20 volunteers and three rotations of medical students from San Carlos University over July to October.
  • The completion of the Healthy Schools Programming at all ten elementary schools in the Palajunoj Valley.
  • Inauguration of new Primeros Pasos Board of Directors.
  • Successful in-country fundraisers, including the first-ever photography auction by Temática LaRevista and the monthly QuetzalTrekker events to benefit Primeros Pasos.
  • Site visit from Brent Savoie, the President of IAHA and founder of Primeros Pasos, and other sponsors such as Scholarship Program's Nancee Neels.
  • Primeros Pasos welcomes three new team members.
  • New partnerships established with the GlobeMed chapter at Georgetown University, SCEEN at Emory University and  AGREGUA.
  • The creation of mobile dental clinics, a new innovation in our efforts to provide quality, accessible healthcare to residents of the Palajunoj Valley.
  • Attendance and networking at the Futuros Colectivos conference in Patzún, Chimaltenango.

We have several events and activities planned for the next quarter, as we wrap up 2011.  Please keep in touch, as we start our Holiday Giving Campaign so we can continue to provide access to quality medical and dental attention to our patients.  More information on recent and upcoming events can be found below.  We hope you find this report of interest and enjoy the fall leaves!



Board of Directors
On Tues, July 5, 2011, after a General Assembly Meeting held at the Clinic, Primeros Pasos elected a new Board of Directors to serve over 2011-13.  All board members are centrally located here in Quetzaltenango and their support has already been incredible for Clinic progress.  We are honored to be guided by the collective knowledge and dedication of such notable individuals:  

  • President - Juan Pablo Echeverría Pereira
    Vice-President - Lic. Mario Edwin Morales Batz
    Treasurer - Juan Pablo Muñoz Piedrasanta
    Secretary - Dr. Brenda Quemé Pac
    General Member - Carlos Javier Antonio Valdez Pérez

Medical Director
Primeros Pasos is proud to welcome Dr. Erick Robert Rosal de Leon to the team!  The new Medical Director for the Clinic, Dr. Rosal is a professional in his field who was born and raised in the City of Quetzaltenago.  A graduate of medicine and surgery from the Western Office of Guatemala’s San Carlos University, he began his career as a Medical Investigator with the Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (INCAP).  In time, Dr. Rosal transitioned up to a General Doctor position with the local division of the Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social (IGSS).  During his six year tenure with IGSS, Dr. Rosal also maintained his own private clinic in the area.  In 2003, Dr. Rosal and his family moved to the United States.  For several years, he worked as a Medical Associate at a local health clinic in Houston, Texas, while improving his fluency in English.  Last year, Dr. Rosal and his family returned to Quetzaltenango.  Currently, he is the General Medical Doctor for the local Xelaju Football Club in addition joining us at Primeros Pasos.  With his apt medical knowledge and impeccable bed-side manner, Dr. Rosal has already been very well-received by all at the Clinic!

In September, Primeros Pasos contracted a professional dentist,  Dr. Cintia Ana Luz Velásquez   Bermudez, to provide dental services   for residents of the Palajunoj Valley. Dr. Velásquez comes to Primeros   Pasos from San Marcos, the department just to the west of   Quetzaltenango, where she has her own private practice. She opened this practice three years ago after graduating from San Carlos University in Guatemala City with a degree in general odontology.  Dr. Velásquez has already been a great asset to Primeros Pasos because of her skill and experience in dental care as well as her passion for working with children!  In the coming weeks, Dr. Velásquez will continue to provide dental care to walk-in patients of all ages and also travel out into the farthest section of the Palajunoj Valley as part of our new mobile dental clinics program. Primeros Pasos is grateful to Dr. Velásquez for helping us to provide a much-needed resource to the residents of the Palajunoj Valley.  

Assistant Women’s Health Education Program Director and Scholarship Program Director
Lucía Pamela Alvarado Romero joined the Primeros Pasos team in July 2011 as the new Assistant Women’s Health Education Program Director and Scholarship Program Director.  Luci graduated from the  Western College of Guatemala’s San Carlos University with a degree in psychology in 2009.  As a psychologist, Luci has worked extensively on issues related to community and women’s issues.  Before starting with Primeros Pasos, she was a Regional Psychologist for the Guatemalan Secretary of Social Well-being.  Luci continues to assist with the implementation and enhancement of the Women’s Health Education Program, especially with her background in community work. Additionally, Luci is the new Director of the Scholarship Program working with young women as they finish their continuing education in a variety of subjects including computer training.  Primeros Pasos is thrilled to have Luci on the team, helping to teach and empower women in the Palajunoj Valley! 


Through the efforts of new US and Guatemalan partners, Primeros Pasos will move forward on a long-standing goal and launch a Nutrition Program in 2012!  On average, two out of every three children seen by the Clinic's Healthy Schools program suffer from some level of mal-nutrition.  Therefore, Primeros Pasos is looking to start a program to treat these children and help support and educate the families in the Palajunoj Valley.  

Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in Central America, the hardest hit areas are the various departments located in the Altiplano, including Quetzaltenango. The proposed nutrition program will select 25 malnourished children identified through Healthy Schools data. With the help of a professional nutritionist, these children will be supplied with vitamins and supplements to combat chronic malnutrition and their families will be educated on better health practices and meal preparation that will provide the necessary nutrients for all family members.  

Support to cover the majority of the program costs will be provided by Primeros Pasos’ new partner GlobeMed Chapter at Georgetown University.  Also, AGREGUA, a local company in the Valley, has agreed to offset program costs via the donation of multivitamins and fortified atol (a local nutritional beverage).  Primeros Pasos is extremely appreciative to have partners dedicated to getting this critically needed program off the ground in 2012!


With the school year coming to a close here in Guatemala, our Children’s Health Education team and our medical staff have been working hard to finish up the Healthy Schools programming.  We have successfully seen classes from all ten elementary schools in the Palajunoj Valley, either when the classes came to the clinic for their annual “health field trip” or when our team of staff and volunteers headed out to the farthest Valley communities as part of our mobile health clinic program. Over the course of the year 2,487 children have received medical care and a series of grade-appropriate workshops both at the clinic and on-site in the schools. 


INNOVATION OF MOBILE DENTAL CLINICSWhile mobile medical clinics have been bringing healthcare and health education to the isolated communities in the Valley for a few years now, this October marked the first time we have embarked on mobile dental clinics. Volunteers went out earlier this month with Dr. Velásquez and extracted over 50 severely infected teeth from students at Bella Vista.  Next, we will bring dental services to Las Majadas, another far removed Valley community. The dental team is expected to extract teeth from 70 children suffering from dental infections and tooth decay. For many children in the Palajunoj Valley, Primeros Pasos’ mobile dental clinics mark the first time they have ever seen a dentist.


Our team of Children’s Health Educators has been finishing up the year completing student-selected 6th grade projects. The class of 6thgraders chooses a topic that is important to them (environment, domestic violence, education, etc.) and a corresponding project. Over the last few weeks, our volunteers have helped to finish desks at Xepache and have planted nearly 50 trees with the sixth graders in two of the Valley communities: Tierra Colorada Baja and Tierra Colorada Alta.  For the department of Quetzaltenango where mudslides are a serious concern during the rainy season, issues surrounding deforestation and environmental protection are important. 


October and November are the months that Primeros Pasos treats the local day care centers in the Palajunoj Valley. Through this program in connection with SOSEP, Clinic staff will be working to provide quality healthcare and preventative health education to the Valley’s littlest residents.   

Stay tuned for more details about the upcoming IAHA fundraiser in Washington, D.C. this fall.  If you're interested in getting involved with the planning or holding an event in your city, please contact Brent Savoie at  

For more frequent updates, please join us on facebook at Primeros Pasos!

Attending to the Children of Las Majadas
Attending to the Children of Las Majadas
Health Education Overview
Health Education Overview
Mobile Clinic Team at Las Majadas
Mobile Clinic Team at Las Majadas
New Medical Director - Dr. Erick Rosal de Leon
New Medical Director - Dr. Erick Rosal de Leon
Dentist - Dr. Cintia Ana Luz Velasquez Bermudez
Dentist - Dr. Cintia Ana Luz Velasquez Bermudez
New Women
New Women's Program Asst - Lucia Pamela Alvarado
Our New President, Vice-President and Treasurer
Our New President, Vice-President and Treasurer
Secretary - Dr. Brenda Queme Pac
Secretary - Dr. Brenda Queme Pac
Mobile Dental Clinics
Mobile Dental Clinics


Dutch Ambassador Visits Primeros Pasos Clinic
Dutch Ambassador Visits Primeros Pasos Clinic
Inter-American Health Alliance (IAHA)
Quarterly Update - June 2011
Dear Friends,

Although we're in the midst of the rainy season, the last three
months have been extremely busy for the Inter-American Health
Alliance (IAHA) and our partner organizations in Guatemala. Our
tireless staff and volunteers have been hard at work serving the
rural population of the Western highlands, providing top-notch
medical care and much needed health education for local children and
women.  Highlights from the spring include:
  • Completion of the CHILA Health Clinic Several successful fundraising
    events including GlobalGiving and the Bidding for Good Auction  
  • The addition of Versy Giron as the new Director of Children's Health
    Education at Primeros Pasos Rachel Kitch joining the team as the
    full-time Volunteer Coordinator for Primeros Pasos  
  • A visit from the Dutch Ambassador 
  • Over 2,100 patients effectively served in the first five months of 2011
    at the Primeros Pasos Clinic as part of the Walk-In Consultation program  
  • Completion of half of the Healthy School visits, covering
    five of ten Palanjunoj Valley schools resulting in over 1,500 annual
    exams for children who live in rural areas 
  • Planning of both the IAHA and Primeros Pasos board turnovers
We also have several exciting events quickly approaching in the next
quarter, including the first annual Concurso de Fotografia contest
and additional mobile clinics into the schools at the outskirts of
the Valley. More information on recent and upcoming events can be
found below. We hope you enjoy the rest of the quarterly newsletter
and have a wonderful summer!

With best regards,
IAHA, Primeros Pasos & CHILA, Inc.
New Primeros Pasos Team Member
Volunteer Coordinator
We are excited to welcome Rachel Kitch to the Primeros Pasos family
as the new Volunteer Coordinator and Assistant to the Director. She arrived in mid-June from the United States after finishing her undergraduate degree at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Rachel has been engaged with Latin America for years. Throughout college, she spent considerable time as a Volunteer Coordinator at the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley. In these clinics, she worked with mostly uninsured patients, many of whom were from the Latin community. With the administrative staff, Rachel established new programs, translated education materials, and acted as an interpreter between doctors and patients. She also studied for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina and volunteered for a summer in Peru. Her experience and Spanish skills will be put to good use here in Guatemala by improving opportunities for volunteers, matching their skills with the needs of the clinic, and assisting with other administrative tasks. Welcome Rachel! ----------- Children's Health Education Director We are also excited that Versy Giron was able to join us in April as the new Children´s Health Education Director. Born and raised in Quetzaltenango, Versy started at Primeros Pasos as a volunteer Educator in January. Her dedication, commitment to the program and experience as a teacher and studies in Psychology and Human Resources made her a perfect candidate for the available program director position. Today, Versy is responsible for all elements of the children´s program. This involves coordinating each school's visit to the clinic and scheduling all of our mobile clinics. Beyond program administration and outreach, she continues to use her talents to teach the children´s workshops as well. Her passion to contribute to her community is an invaluable asset as she communicates the importance of personal hygiene to students. Teaching students how to brush their teeth, when to wash their hands, and what bacteria are can have a big impact on their health in a very practical way. Versy makes all of those lessons possible. We are proud to have her as a part of our team!
Mobile Clinics
Throughout the year, Primeros Pasos provides health education and yearly check ups for hundreds of children that attend nearby schools. But a few times each year, we get the opportunity to take our clinics and classes on the road to children who attend schools in more remote regions. In April we served nearly 400 students in the Candelaria and Tierra Colorada Alta districts. Beginning mid-July, plan are to visit Bella Vista and Las Majadas to serve over 500 more students. Mobile clinics are just one more example of our staff providing access to quality healthcare in rural communities. ----------------------
Global Giving Update Thanks for all who contributed to Primeros Pasos and the Inter-American Health Alliance during the GlobalGiving Open Challenge over the month of April. Many of the contributions were made at a fundraising event in Washington, D.C. by board members of IAHA. The event was hosted by Julie Savoie and was very successful. With everyone´s help, we raised over $5,000, which means that are now permanent members of the GlobalGiving network! We are very excited about his opportunity. Our membership in the network both expands our visibility to a variety of givers around the world and provides one more outlet for us to share our mission with potential partners. If you would like to visit the site or give through this platform, visit
Remember, a gift of only $10 can fund clinical care and
health education for one child for a full year!

Bidding for Good
Throughout April, over 60 items were auctioned off to benefit the
work of IAHA and its members through the Bidding for Good website. Our generous bidders were rewarded with
everything from Guatemalan crafts, to hand-made jewelry, to trips on
hot air balloons - and helped us raise just under $1,000 to improve
health in rural Guatemala. A big thank you to all who bid!

This has been an amazing career enhancing experience in health
promotion. I hope to volunteer again for the clinic next year!¨
~ Louise Choquette, Children´s Health Education Volunteer

CHILA Health Clinic

Residents of rural communities are the main targets of our health
initiatives in Guatemala. With such a large population spread over a
huge geographical area, Primeros Pasos is forced to focus its efforts
specifically in the southern Palajunoj Valley. The completion of the
CHILA health clinic in Chisec, AltaverPas, now provides the people of
the rural, northern regions with unprecedented access to clinical
care. A team led by Brian Goff Smith, CHILA’s president and
founder, put the final touches on the facility in April. They
installed sinks in the clinic rooms, put in all the florescent
lighting, and built a display case for the CHILA quilt. While in
Chisec, the team also found time to help 18 families replace their
roofs with corrugated tin roofs.

CHILA is a partner in the Inter-American Health Alliance that aims to
provide quality clinical care and children's health education
programs in regions where both are currently unavailable, while
building on a dynamic partnership with a local women's group. We're
thrilled to be one step closer to having medical teams in the clinic!
- Concurso de Fotografia is the first annual photo contest hosted by Primeros Pasos. This is a great opportunity to show off your photography skills and help raise money for the clinic. Entries must be photos taken within the last year and relate to the theme, Environment and Architecture. Photos may be submitted via email and must be recieved by July 3rd. Three winners will be chosen based on the number of Facebook "likes" and three will be chosen by a panel of expert judges. Then the top twelve pictures will be turned into a calendar that will be sold to benefit Primeros Pasos. Check out the facebook page at 
- Ragnar Relays ( is an excellent opportunity to race and raise money to support the
IAHA. The race takes place in Washington, D.C. September 23-24. Teams
are composed of 12 people, with each team member running 10-20 miles
of the 200 mile overnight race, lasting nearly 36 hours in all. Team
members commit to training and fundraising by contacting friends,
family, colleagues, and local organizations and/or holding small
fundraisers in their respective cities. Personal costs will be
minimal. The cost of race registration and food will likely be offset
by donations from supporters, although travel to race site is not
included. Megan Dunning, a former Primeros Pasos volunteer and member
of the IAHA Board of Directors, is organizing the IAHA team and needs
six additional teammates. If you or someone you know might be
interested, please email her at

- Stay tuned for more details about an upcoming IAHA fundraiser in
Wahington, D.C. this Fall 2011.  If you´re interested in getting involved
with the planning or holding an event in your city, please contact
Brent Savoie at

- Join us on  facebook ( or visit the websites below to receive frequent updates on
all IAHA and partner activity!

Inter-American Health Alliance -
Primeros Pasos -
CHILA, Inc. -

New Volunteer Coordinator, Rachel Kitch
New Volunteer Coordinator, Rachel Kitch
Lab Sample Review
Lab Sample Review
2011 Mobile Clinic at Candeleria
2011 Mobile Clinic at Candeleria
New Chilren
New Chilren's Health Education Dir. Versy Giron
Walk-in Consultation
Walk-in Consultation
Valley children ready for their Annual Health Exam
Valley children ready for their Annual Health Exam
Team of dedicated staff reviewing patient
Team of dedicated staff reviewing patient's needs



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Organization Information

Inter-American Health Alliance

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Inter-American Health Alliance
Project Leader:
Jamie De Guzman Pet
Clinic Director
Quetzaltenango, Quetzaltenango Guatemala

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