Project #7817

Primeros Pasos

by Inter-American Health Alliance
Apr 17, 2013

See your impact! First Quarter in Numbers

Our first quarter
Our first quarter

We've had an amazing first quarter of the year and want to share our success with you! We think 2013 is shaping up to be the most successful year for Primeros Pasos and we're thankful for your support! 
+So far this year we've seen 1,697 medical patients, 294 dental patients and our lab has analyzed 828 tests. 
+We've hosted one Mobile Clinic that saw 137 children in a remote community.
+During Spring Break, we built FIVE provisional hand washing stations in Valley schools. 
+We've taught self esteem, drug addition and puberty lessons to all 5th and 6th graders in THREE Valley schools. +We've hosted 34 Women's Health Education meetings in THREE different communities.
+Our dental intern has started treating over 1,000 students with fluoride.
+We've selected 50 participants to join our year long Nutritional Recuperation program.
+We've had a total of 11 foreign volunteers this year. Currently, we have SEVEN volunteers working with us in various program, with 14 more joining us over the next three months. 
+We've helped EIGHT students register for secondary school thanks to our scholarship program.


Parasitic infections are very prevalent in the school children in the Palajunoj Valley. One key issue is the lack of sanitation infrastructure in the primary schools here. No matter how much Primeros Pasos teaches students to wash their hand, if there is no place to wash them at school, students will continue to have infections. Primeros Pasos saw this as a great opportunity for our Spring Break groups to make a difference this year.

Over two weeks time in March, our Spring Break groups from Vanderbilt University and Boston University helped build provisional hand washing stations in five schools. These hand washing stations are called "Tippy Taps" and cost under $100 to make. The students gave fun health lessons about parasites and hand washing to each classroom while half of the group worked to construct the Tippy Taps. The students and teachers were really happy with the results-- we've never seen kids this excited to wash their hands!


Last week, the 14 women in the Xepache group of our Women’s Health Education Program, graduated into their second year of the program. In honor of their graduation, Miriam, the program director, prepared a snack of tostadas and fruit smoothies for everyone. The women discussed what they found to be most valuable and interesting of what they had learned so far and expressed excitement over moving onto the next phase of the program. 

The Stairway to Good Health program consists of three yearlong modules. In the first phase of the first year, the groups are introduced to preventative health topics such as nutrition and hygiene. In the second phase, our health educators discuss issues more specific to women’s health, such as family planning, prenatal care and women’s cancers. The second year, which the Xepache group will begin in their next session, focuses on women’s empowerment and leadership. In the final year of the program, the women become health educators or implement a project that benefits the community.

Our Scholarship Program empowers young people from the Palajunoj Valley to continue their education and become leaders who participate in improving their communities. In addition to providing funds to cover the costs of secondary school, Primeros Pasos hosts monthly workshops for our scholars and their parents that focus on themes such as community leadership, self esteem, and health.  

Juan is beginning his last year of secondary school. He lives in Chuicaracoj, a distant community in the Palajunoj Valley. During the week Juan works in Xela in a warehouse, and on the weekends maintains high grades at school. Juan is a shy kid, but is very concentrated in his studies and constantly looks to improve his life and the lives of his family members. He recently said: "I am the second of five children, and my older brother had to leave school in order to help our father with the household costs. My father works in the fields and last year lost his whole crop due to the hurricane-- we were left with nothing. I thought about working instead of going to school because it pained me to see my father spending so much money on my studies. However, before I had to make that decision, Primeros Pasos gave me a scholarship. Now I can study knowing that the money is there for me. I have high grades now and am learning about many different things as part of the program. I am very thankful for Primeros Pasos." To support Juan or another scholar, please contact

Lara is from Washington State, but received her degree from Brown University in 2009. Since then she has been working for different organizations, including a global health think tank where she worked on vaccine introduction projects. Most recently Lara traveled to Guatemala to work in the Rio Dulce area for a health organization on their public health outreach programs. Lara came to Primeros Pasos seeking a opportunity to work with indigenous populations who lacked access to adequate health care. Over the next four months, she will be helping us improve our monitoring and evaluation systems for our Women's Health Education Program and Children's Health Education Program to help us better measure our impact in the Palajunoj Valley.

In 2012, our pilot Nutritional Recuperation project helped 26 children under five years recuperated their normal height and weight. Their families learned about important health topics, ensuring that the children would continue to grow and be healthy. We're pleased to say that 2013 has already proved to be a great year with new developments for the Nutrition Program. This year we'll be working in some of the most remote communities in the Valley with a group of 20 low income pregnant mothers and 30 chronically malnourished children between six and 24 months. Primeros Pasos will again provide tailored medical and nutritional treatment along with focused and practical nutrition and health classes to empower mothers and pregnant women with knowledge, skills and tools needed to maintain healthy, balanced diets for themselves and their families. 

Primeros Pasos has recently been awarded a $10,000 grant to fund this important project, but we need your help! This is a special matching grant, meaning that we have to raise a portion of the money. The grant officer explained that they really wanted to work with us on the project and help us fund it quickly, which led them to decide to go above their usual 50/50 match scheme and give us the largest portion they have ever awarded-- 80/20. This means we'll need to raise $2,000 for our program! To help us-- please donate at

Spring break teams
Spring break teams
Women's Graduation
Tippy Tap projects
Tippy Tap projects
Tippy Taps and Spring Break groups
Tippy Taps and Spring Break groups



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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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