School Health and Hygiene for Mayan Children

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
WASH training at San Juan Mirador
WASH training at San Juan Mirador

With the new school year, our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) project team has been busy training new WASH representatives in our partner communities. At Chacaya, La Cumbre, Panimaquip, and San Juan Mirador Elementary Schools, new teachers became part of the WASH Project.

“As part of their training on the WASH Project, we guide the teachers on selecting new WASH Ambassadors-- students who participate in the program and help maintain the bathrooms. We also train the teachers on how to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the project, such as keeping track of the number of students who wash their hands after using the restroom,” explains Pablo Eulogio, WASH Project Coordinator.

Along with trainings, the WASH support group has begun to meet again at our beneficiary schools. The support group is made up of the WASH teacher representative, the school principal, two parents, and one WASH student ambassador. Meeting twice a month, the group discusses problems specific to the WASH facilities at their school, and then brainstorms possible solutions.

“The WASH support groups are meant to get the community involved in the project, so that the project ultimately becomes self-sustainable,” Pablo adds. “The end goal is have the partner school independently running the WASH Project after three years, and then Pueblo a Pueblo will step in for technical support as needed.

Together with our partner communities, we’re ready for another WASH-filled year!

Monitoring and evaluating hand washing
Monitoring and evaluating hand washing
WASH teacher with students at Panimaquip
WASH teacher with students at Panimaquip
Activities at Tzan
Activities at Tzan'chaj Primary School

Since the last time we checked in, our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) project celebrated a very important day: Global Handwashing Day! Officially set on October 15, all our beneficiary schools from Chacaya to San Juan Mirador spent the month of October learning about the importance of handwashing to prevent disease and stay healthy.

At Tzan’chaj Primary School, students participated in skits and sang songs that went over important handwashing steps, such as washing your hands before eating or cooking and scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. At Nueva Providencia Primary School, the principal held a school-wide assembly, where children and teachers learned how handwashing can cut infection rates and keep students healthy, leading to improved academic productivity.

According to Tomas Mendoza, the WASH Project Coordinator, “Having proper sanitation facilities is important, but so is educational training and raising awareness.” Although these schools now have WASH facilities, students are not always aware of why handwashing is so important. Through Global Handwashing Day activities, students were able to “learn the proper handwashing steps in a fun and interactive way.”

These improvements to sanitation and health in rural Guatemala are possible only with the support of donors like you. As we near the end of the year, Pueblo a Pueblo is counting on you to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $60,000. With every dollar, we can continue the cycle of change for communities in rural Guatemala. Together we can build more bathrooms, equip more schools with WASH knowledge, and empower more communities.

Donate today to make a difference and improve health and hygiene in rural Guatemala!

Skits at Tzan
Skits at Tzan'chaj Primary School
Global Handwashing Day at Nueva Providencia School
Global Handwashing Day at Nueva Providencia School
Colgate representative sharing dental hygiene tips
Colgate representative sharing dental hygiene tips

We have been forming some exciting new partnerships since our last check-in. Our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) project has been collaborating with Colgate to equip our beneficiary schools with healthy dental hygiene knowledge and supplies. This initiative is part of Colgate’s innovative campaign “Brilliant Smiles, Brilliant Futures.”

On August 16-17, school directors, teachers, and parents from all of Pueblo a Pueblo’s beneficiary schools gathered at Tzanjuyu and La Cumbre schools to attend a series of workshops led by Colgate Program Ambassadors Carlos Soberanis and Nery Castillo. Important themes were covered, such as the relationship between healthy habits, self-esteem, and academic productivity.

Colgate Ambassador Carlos Soberanis asked, "What happens when children brush their teeth? They are nourishing their self-esteem, sense of security, and confidence. And self-esteem is vital. It can affect whether a student becomes a lawyer, an architect, or a bilingual translator...”

The Colgate Ambassadors also reviewed tips and tricks for children to use when brushing their teeth, and they gave parents toothpaste, a toothbrush, and fun informational games for students to play at home. In total, 3,945 of Pueblo a Pueblo’s beneficiary students received Colgate supplies!

In addition to trainings, we officially completed and inaugurated new WASH facilities at San Juan Mirador School. We also celebrated the installment of a new rainwater collection system at Totolya School, so that students and teachers always have a secure supply of water. With WASH facilities and access to clean water, in addition to dental hygiene trainings, students are equipped with more tools to fight away the germs and develop good self-esteem!

Teachers receiving Colgate supplies
Teachers receiving Colgate supplies
WASH inauguration at San Juan Mirador
WASH inauguration at San Juan Mirador
Water collection system at Totolya School
Water collection system at Totolya School
A WASH Student Ambassador at San Juan Mirador
A WASH Student Ambassador at San Juan Mirador

Last time we checked in at San Juan Mirador School, a small, Kaqchikel-speaking community outside of San Lucas Toliman, we were in the very beginning stage of breaking ground on new WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) facilities. The bathrooms at San Juan Mirador were in such poor conditions that students were at high risk of getting sick and missing school.

Thanks to a partnership with the students at Trailside Middle School in Ashburn, VA, and support from donors like you, construction is well underway. During this first phase, Pueblo a Pueblo is building four latrines, two handwashing stations with four faucets, and a urinal. The WASH facilities are set to be completed by early August, which means the teachers and 222 students at San Juan Mirador will soon have access to new clean bathrooms!

Meanwhile, we’ve moved forward with our second round of training for WASH student ambassadors. During this training, the WASH student ambassadors at San Juan Mirador learned how personal hygiene affects self-esteem and academic productivity. Teachers and students were divided into two groups. They then analyzed short stories explaining how poor hygiene habits, like not washing your hands or not bathing, can cause sickness. The stories showed that when students get sick often, they miss more school, harming their academic development and self-esteem.

WASH student ambassadors also learned how to create good personal hygiene routines. For example, students should always wash fruits and vegetables before eating them, and they should boil tap water before drinking it. With this knowledge in hand, WASH ambassadors can encourage their peers to follow these healthy habits as well!

WASH Project Coordinator Tomas Mendoza notes that it is  “very important to have a group of student ambassadors learn healthy habits, so they can be change-makers for a healthier school environment and improve the overall personal hygiene of their peers.”

Now that they are equipped with personal hygiene and sanitation knowledge and the soon-to-be finished WASH facilities, students and teachers at San Juan Mirador are on their way to healthier and more productive school days!

Students and teachers during the second training
Students and teachers during the second training
Pre-construction, bathrooms are in poor condition
Pre-construction, bathrooms are in poor condition
Digging wells for septic tanks
Digging wells for septic tanks
Construction in progress for new, clean bathrooms!
Construction in progress for new, clean bathrooms!
San Juan Mirador students with Trailside t-shirts
San Juan Mirador students with Trailside t-shirts

Soon, we will begin construction on WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) facilities at San Juan Mirador School. This new partnership is particularly exciting because San Juan Mirador has some special supporters: the students at Trailside Middle School in Ashburn, VA.

San Juan Mirador School is located in a small, Kaqchikel-speaking community outside of San Lucas Toliman. There are currently 222 students from preschool to 6th grade, and most of the students’ parents work on the large coffee plantations nearby. The students love school -- but “the bathrooms are in bad shape, and the kids are really at risk to get sick,” explained Tomas, our WASH in Schools Project Coordinator.

Trailside Middle School is helping us meet the challenge. Through a collaboration with H2O For Life, Trailside students have been raising money and awareness within their communities to support San Juan Mirador’s new WASH construction. Trailside has hosted advocacy and fundraising events at their school, and have even reached out to the students at San Juan Mirador. Students learning Spanish have written letters introducing themselves to the students in San Juan Mirador, and recently, the school sent over 100 Trailside t-shirts.

When WASH Project Coordinator Tomas visited the school recently, he delivered the letters and t-shirts to the 6th grade class. Students could see photos of the students at Trailside, and each student received a t-shirt and a letter. They have now written letters in response, sharing their everyday lives and their interests with the Trailside students.

Alice, an 8th grade teacher at Trailside Middle School described how the students  “are really excited. [They] loved being able to see the direct connection made. Our students were excited to see how excited San Juan Mirador students were.”

The first phase of the WASH in Schools Project is now underway at San Juan Mirador. The school has chosen its six student WASH ambassadors, who will help to make sure their peers practice proper hygiene and that the bathrooms are fully stocked with soap and toilet paper. They have also formed a community support group, which includes the principal, the teacher in charge of WASH, the student ambassadors, and two parents.

This past month, the community support group participated in the first WASH training at the school, where they learned proper hand-washing and teeth-brushing techniques, and more WASH basics. There is another training coming up before construction begins in May!

The entire 6th grade class
The entire 6th grade class
Checking out photos from Trailside Middle School
Checking out photos from Trailside Middle School
First training at San Juan Mirador!
First training at San Juan Mirador!
The school principal participating in 1st training
The school principal participating in 1st training
 

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.puebloapueblo.org
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States

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