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School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children
Tomas presents WASH results at an staff meeting
Tomas presents WASH results at an staff meeting

Observing Our Impact

Throughout Pueblo a Pueblo's partnership with Agua Escondida Primary School, we have been measuring our impact on the school by making observations both before and after we implemented critical interventions related to student health.

Tomás Mendoza is our Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator. He and his team use data collected in real time to make our projects more effective and more efficient each year. When Pueblo a Pueblo intervenes on behalf of rural Guatemalan families, we want to know that we are delivering positive results.

 

Reflecting on Our Results

Before our interventions, our team observed that only 55% of upper-school students washed their hands after using the restroom, and no students used hand soap. After Pueblo a Pueblo staff implemented sanitation improvements and hygiene education, those numbers rose dramatically: 99% of students washed their hands, and 94% used antibacterial hand soap.

 

A Real Win for Students

These results are helping improve students' health, happiness, and education. Diarrheal disease is considered a “major infectious disease” and significant public health risk in Guatemala and puts infected children at risk of long-term malnutrition and death. Furthermore, education is a precious resource here in Sololá, where more than one in three adults cannot read or write, and poor sanitation infrastructure at home and at school counts among the top reasons young Guatemalans perform poorly or drop out.

Proper handwashing hygiene has been found to reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by 31%, and Pueblo a Pueblo’s recent efforts have given students at Agua Escondida both the education and the infrastructure they need to protect themselves. Our post-intervention evaluation confirms a happier, healthier school, where students experience fewer interruptions to their education.

 

How YOU Can Help

We have completed Phase I of our collaboration with Agua Escondida Primary School—now our team is gearing up to double our impact with Phase II! Read more about what we've done and what we have planned here.

Can you help us make these plans a reality? Join us in making 2020 our most successful year yet! Click the button below to support our data-driven programming today.

Tomas observes students' behavior at the school
Tomas observes students' behavior at the school
A WASH team member conducts monitoring exercises
A WASH team member conducts monitoring exercises
Agua Escondida Primary School students
Agua Escondida Primary School students
Agua Escondida faculty attend a hygiene workshop
Agua Escondida faculty attend a hygiene workshop
New handwashing station at the upper school
New handwashing station at the upper school

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The new Ambassadors with their faculty advisors
The new Ambassadors with their faculty advisors

There’s a new team of hygiene heroes at Agua Escondida Primary School!

Tomás Pacay Mendoza is the manager of Pueblo a Pueblo's Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools project. On July 23, he visited Agua Escondida to meet with its brand-new group of Hygiene Ambassadors: students who will work alongside faculty to promote healthy habits at their school.

These twelve students were selected by their teachers because they are active, enthusiastic, and invested in making their school a better place. The new ambassadors met with Tomás during his visit to learn more about their roles and responsibilities as Hygiene Ambassadors.

Their first order of business? Spreading the word about the importance of hand-washing—and how to do it correctly. The ambassadors will be on duty during recess, when they will encourage their peers to wash their hands (with soap!) after using the restroom. They will also participate in school-wide hygiene education assemblies, the first of which is coming up soon—just next week!

For now, the lower school Ambassadors have to point their fellow students toward a temporary handwashing station made up of a water cooler positioned over a plastic basin. While the school’s upper level got a makeover by the WASH project earlier this year, the lower school must wait for a second phase of construction. With your support, Pueblo a Pueblo will initiate phase two and rebuild a bank of bathroom stalls in Agua Escondida’s lower school. The new facility will include boys’ stalls, girls’ stalls, and a fully functional handwashing station.

At the end of their meeting with Tomás, the Hygiene Ambassadors received vests to symbolize their role as leaders in their school. The Ambassadors are already doing good work—consider a donation today to back them up with the improved facilities they need to make their school a healthier place to learn, play, and grow!

Tomas addresses the new Hygiene Ambassadors
Tomas addresses the new Hygiene Ambassadors
Temporary handwashing station at the lower school
Temporary handwashing station at the lower school
New handwashing station at the upper school
New handwashing station at the upper school

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The new stalls decorated for the inauguration
The new stalls decorated for the inauguration

Tomás Pacay Mendoza is the coordinator of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene  (WASH) in Schools project. For months, Tomás and his team have been coordinating efforts between administrators at Agua Escondida Primary School, local community groups, international funders, and a construction team to build a new bathroom facility for students. On May 14, after months of planning and weeks of execution, Tomás and members of the Pueblo a Pueblo team traveled to Agua Escondida to celebrate the inauguration of the school’s new bathroom facility!

The school is attended by almost 600 students from Kindergarten through high school. For years, there have only been five working toilets in the whole school for students to use. But during recent construction, contractors tore down a bank of two unused toilets and built a new bank of stalls in their place. The girls' side of the new facility has three new toilets and a handwashing station, and the boys' side has two new toilets, a urinal, and a new handwashing station. These new facilities will double the number of working toilets at the school, creating a safer and healthier learning environment for the students of Agua Escondida—certainly a reason to celebrate!

The inauguration ceremony began in the school’s large multipurpose room. The walls were covered with posters made by students, each which depicted a different way in which students can take care of their earth and their school. Several were variations on the theme “How We Can Take Care of the New Bathrooms” and encouraged students to place trash in the trash can, sweep the stalls each day, and remember to flush!

During the ceremony, school administrators honored Tomás and Pueblo a Pueblo Administrative Director Ana Cabrera. After brief remarks from a variety of school and community leaders, the audience was treated to two different performances related to the themes of the day: environmentalism and hygiene. First, a third grade class performed a short musical parable called “The Earth has a Fever” about a planet and the humans that nearly destroy it—and then save it! Then, a group of sixth graders performed a play about the danger of pollution to our health—and the importance of keeping our homes, businesses, and streets clean.

Afterwards, the ceremony moved outside to the new bathrooms, decorated for the occasion by members of a local community group. The school’s principal invited Ana to cut the ribbon on the five new stalls and two new handwashing stations now available for students to use! Once he had unlocked the bathroom stalls, the principal encouraged the students gathered around to take a look inside.

Building these five new bathroom stalls is only the first phase of Pueblo a Pueblo’s collaboration with Agua Escondida. Next, our team will help to coordinate the demolition and reconstruction of a second bank of bathroom stalls in the school’s lower level, where Agua Escondida's youngest learners attend class. Thanks to donors like you, we were able to complete Phase One—now we need your help to carry out Phase Two! Your support fuels our success—thank you for believing in the power of proper sanitation to keep kids happy, healthy, and learning every day.

Before the new construction
Before the new construction
After: two new handwashing stations
After: two new handwashing stations
Students gather for the inauguration ceremony
Students gather for the inauguration ceremony
Tomas and Ana receive a gift from school leaders
Tomas and Ana receive a gift from school leaders
School and community partners at the new stalls
School and community partners at the new stalls

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Many school toilets do not flush and have no seats
Many school toilets do not flush and have no seats

The community of Agua Escondida is perched high on a hill overlooking Lake Atitlan in Guatemala’s western highlands. It is located away from the noise and traffic of tourists, but it is also isolated from the influx of resources and infrastructure improvements that often come with tourism. In this area, where most families earn a living as coffee and avocado farmers, 81 of the population lives in poverty.

Agua Escondida Primary School, the community’s only school, has only five functioning toilets for 590 students in Kindergarten through high school. In other words, there are approximately 162 male students per toilet and 89 female students per toilet, and many of the existing toilets do not flush well, if at all. So many students use the toilets each day that it is impossible to keep the bathrooms clean; as a result, students are left vulnerable to parasites and communicable diseases that can keep them from attending school at all.

Last year, our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools team launched a partnership with the school. This week, after months of planning and fundraising, project contractors broke ground on the first phase of sanitation improvements. They will build five new bathroom stalls and a handwashing station. This will double the number of toilets available for students to use!

This project will improve the well-being of students and the health of the broader Agua Escondida community. The World Health Organization estimates that for every US$1.00 invested in sanitation projects, there is a return of US$5.50 due to a reduction in health costs, an increase in productivity, and fewer premature deaths.

Phase 1 is only the beginning. Our WASH team and their community partners have already made plans for a second and final phase of construction at Agua Escondida. During Phase 2, contractors will build six new bathroom stalls and a handwashing station in the school’s lower level, providing sanitary learning spaces for the school’s preschool and first grade students.

We need your help to make phase 2 a reality! Consider making a gift in support of Agua Escondida students today.

Agua Escondida Primary School
Agua Escondida Primary School
This busy school is attended by 590 students!
This busy school is attended by 590 students!
Soon-to-be replaced toilets with no seats or doors
Soon-to-be replaced toilets with no seats or doors
This non-functional bathroom is used for storage
This non-functional bathroom is used for storage

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Principal Diana Juarez Azanon
Principal Diana Juarez Azanon

The end of the year is a rewarding time at Pueblo a Pueblo because it is when we take stock of each of our nine projects, analyzing the fruits of our team’s hard work in preparation for another year of collaboration and innovation. Our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools project is no exception. One of the most important ways we measure our projects’ success is by interviewing community partners to hear, in their own words, the changes a project brought to their lives.

This year, one of the community partners we spoke with was Diana Juarez Azañon, principal at San Juan Mirador Primary School. Here’s what Diana had to say:

Four years ago, before this project, our school had problems related to water because even though we are located at the edge of a river, we did not have access to running water. We also had another even more serious problem: the bathrooms. We only had three bathroom stalls for the whole school and they were in terrible condition. They usually did not flush, the students had to wait in line for a long time in order to use the bathroom, and we only had one sink for students to wash their hands in. It was a difficult situation.

The WASH team at Pueblo a Pueblo became aware of the situation at Diana’s school and conducted a visit. Our team found the conditions Diana described, and they also found a school full of teachers and administrators like Diana: passionate about providing a cleaner, healthier learning environment for their students. Pueblo a Pueblo then worked with Diana and her team of educators to install new toilets, new handwashing stations, and hand soap dispensers—San Juan Mirador's first step toward a healthier school! They also converted an unused bathroom into a classroom, creating a brand new space for student learning. Diana reflected on the results of these efforts:

Before the WASH project, my students’ lives were difficult. They lived in unhygienic conditions because we did not have the resources to provide them a sanitary environment here at school and their families could not provide that at home either since most of our students come from families of few economic resources. The changes in habits that my students have acquired because of this project are many: they now know to use the bathrooms and how to wash their hands; they are now aware of their own health and they take care to avoid getting sick due to poor hygiene. Pueblo a Pueblo’s support means so much to me and to my school because it has equipped us to prevent illnesses among our students by promoting personal hygiene.

Thank you for supporting efforts that keep Diana’s students healthy and happy! Your support fuels our WASH project’s success.

Students celebrate the new facilities
Students celebrate the new facilities
A new bathroom (with handwashing stations)
A new bathroom (with handwashing stations)
Students in the new classroom
Students in the new classroom

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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