A boy is examined during a Mobile Clinic visit.
OUR HEALTHY SCHOOLS PROGRAM -- THE 2012 SCHOOL YEAR ENDS
Our Healthy Schools Program has finished up for the year and the Guatemalan school system is now on it’s “summer break.” During 2012, more than 2,500 children were seen through our Healthy Schools Program. Through this program, we host over one hundred “health field trips” in the clinic. Every week, individual classes from the local primary schools arrive at the clinic for a “health field trip.” Students receive a medical and dental check-up, are tested for parasites, and participate in an interactive health education class focused on basic hygiene and nutrition. In addition, every child is sent home with a toothbrush, soap, and any medication that they may need. Beyond providing medical care, our Healthy Schools Program gives hundreds of workshops every year to students in the ten local elementary schools. Our team travels to the schools and gives workshops on age-appropriate themes such as the environmental, self-esteem, domestic violence, drug addiction, and reproductive health. We are excited to have wrapped up another successful year of work with the elementary school children and are excited to work with the new classes starting in January 2013!
MOBILE CLINICS -- REACHING THE MOST ISOLATED COMMUNITIES
We have been busy this summer with special initiatives in the communities. In August we completed our four Mobile Clinics of 2012 in Las Majadas, Bella Vista, Tierra Colorada Alto, and Candelaria. Through our Mobile Clinic Program, Primeros Pasos visited some of the most distant communities in the Palajunoj Valley. 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. 86% of the patients who gave the medical team samples tested positive for parasites, a testament to the great need for medical attention and treatment in these communities.
NUTRITIONAL RECUPERATION PROGRAM -- WORK HARD, PLAY HARD
The nutrition program staff has being doing great work this year, and their hard work is paying off. The statistics from the participants' third medical evaluation are really impressive! Over 90% of children have gained weight since their last check-up, and the rest have maintained their weight. All 26 participants have recuperated their normal weight for their age. Furthermore, these medical exams revealed a large decrease in parasitic infections. At the time of the first check-up, 100% of children tested positive for intestinal parasites. After several workshops with the mothers about sanitation and hygiene, we were disappointed to see the results of the second check-up still high at 80% positive. However, our staff continued to talk with the mothers about this issue and review lesson, and we are happy to report that the third check-up this year shows that now only 40% children still tested positive for parasitic infections.
Our most recent workshops have focussed on family planning, a topic in which the women showed high interest and were eager to learn more. We followed up with another more in depth lesson, utilizing our local nursing student volunteers, to provide the women with more information and same day direct and free access to different forms of birth control.
On October 1, the nutrition group celebrated Día del Niño (Children’s Day). Our staff received donations from INCAP (our nutritional supplement providers), individuals, and local businesses to throw a great party filled with snacks, cupcakes, piñatas, games, prizes and gifts. The staff was able to contract a group of clowns who solely do charity work to bring smiles to less fortunate and sick children. They provided great entertainment with balloon animals and face painting, and interacted well with the mothers, getting them up to dance and be silly with the kids. Each child received a party favors of crayons, notebooks, Play-Doh, and stickers, and there were games for the mothers to win prizes for the children. The party was visited by a local news channel from the Valley who came to document the festivities and talk to our staff about the nutrition program. We plan to include press releases for Guatemalan TV Channels and Newspapers in our plans for all programs and activities in 2013.
November takes us into the planning process for next year's program recruitment. Our nutrition team is working on strategies to amplify our target demographic by focusing on poorer areas in the Valley, such as targeting families who scavenge at mine waste sites and trash dumps.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
“Before we enrolled in these classes, we did not know about good hygiene and other health issues. The clinic helps us because sometimes our children have stomach aches and there in the clinic they can run tests so that we know if they are sick from parasites or not. Thank you to Miriam and the clinic” – María Josefa -Louisa, Women's Health Education Program (EBS) Participant
"We were able to see many different communities and experience teaching in diverse classroom settings. Helping with mobile clinics was one of my favorite experiences because we were able to provide care to very rural areas. Primeros Pasos as an organization is comprehensive in services and the staff is friendly and supportive." –Yesenia, Children’s Health Education Volunteer
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Hand washing on a health field trip.