With COVID-19 rates continuing to fluctuate into the “red” zone here in Santiago Atitlán, school based programs like nutrition workshops are still unable to take place. However, Pueblo a Pueblo remains committed to fighting child malnutrition in a variety of other COVID-19 safe ways!
Our Maternal-Child Health project participants have been diving into nutrition and healthy cooking classes over the last couple of months, and learning about the vitality of proper nutrition during a child’s first two years. Pueblo a Pueblo has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food to hold monthly nutrition workshops for new mothers. Last month, mothers made delicious spinach salads full of toppings like peppers, onions, and boiled eggs!
These nutrition workshops are an important part of making sure that the Maternal-Child Health project provides wraparound support to new mothers! We recognize that health is much more than just access to medical services, and are thrilled to be supporting participants as they learn more about the importance of good nutrition!
In addition to the nutrition workshops taking place within our Maternal-Child Health project, Pueblo a Pueblo’s commitment to alleviating child nutrition is upheld in our primary education scholarship project as well. More than half of sponsored primary students also receive monthly nutritional baskets filled with pantry staples like corn, eggs, and pasta. These baskets are made possible by the generous donations of monthly primary education sponsors who wish to support their students in additional capacities. Having these supplementary nutrition baskets has been a huge help to local families, especially throughout the challenging times brought forth by the pandemic.
Finally, another way that Pueblo a Pueblo has contributed to the fight against child malnutrition has been through the organic school garden in San Martín. This garden was started by Pueblo a Pueblo youth leaders a couple of years ago, and although it is no longer being run by Pueblo a Pueblo, the students in San Martín continue to reap its benefits. Teachers at the school have taken over the garden, planting seeds donated by Pueblo a Pueblo, and most importantly, donating all harvested produce to local families. This is such an amazing representation of the longevity and sustainability of Pueblo a Pueblo projects –they continue to support communities even after Pueblo a Pueblo is no longer in charge.
So, although fighting childhood malnutrition looks different now than it has in past years, it remains just as important to Pueblo a Pueblo. We thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to support the nutritional needs of local children and their families! Without your support, these projects would not be possible.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our typical nutrition programming in schools, Pueblo a Pueblo has been finding new ways to support the nutritional needs of our community members!
Throughout this pandemic, we have truly seen how food insecurity is at the root of not only health challenges, but also challenges to occupational and school success in the Santiago Atitlan community. As such, our organization is reinvigorating its commitment to nutrition as a top priority for building sustainable lives here in rural Guatemala.
One important way in which we are re-committing to the fight against food insecurity and malnutrition is with our Maternal Child Health project. Recently, project directors have shifted the timeline and goals of this project to focus on building a strong nutritional foundation for young children. The project will now support mothers and their new babies from pregnancy until the child reaches age two, instead of age five. This shift reflects a desire to provide more all encompassing resources for mothers and their children during the most vulnerable period of their life –the first two years. The Maternal Child Health project will now be providing monthly nutrition workshops and staple food baskets to beneficiary mothers and children.
Project director, Vilma Mendoza explains: “We have seen that here in Santiago, it is a priority to support families not only in terms of their general health, but especially in their nutritional health. We can help families by giving them access to the clinic, but if a child is sick with the same condition every month –for example, if a child comes in each month with diarrhea or lesions on the skin, there is a bigger problem. I spoke with one of the doctors at the clinic, and I asked her, “why do we see the same problems every month?” She told me, “aside from a lack of hygiene, there is a big lack of vitamins. If a child comes in this month, I can give them vitamins and medicine and they will get better but if the child doesn't have food, next month they will have the same problem.” So, we have recognized that it is a priority to reduce childhood malnutrition, especially from birth until two years of age.”
Along with this shift in the Maternal Child Health program, Pueblo a Pueblo remains committed to supporting the nutrition of other community members as well. With the help of monthly sponsors, Pueblo a Pueblo has been delivering food baskets filled with staple food items to children in our Primary Education Scholarships Project. During such a challenging time, we are shifting to meet the nutritional needs of our community because we recognize that now more than ever, nutrition is vital to community development.
Thank you for believing in Pueblo a Pueblo’s vision of promoting sustainable livelihoods through nutrition. Your support is invaluable to the empowerment of rural Guatemalans!
As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, Pueblo a Pueblo is embracing all safety precautions to continue meeting the needs of our constituents. In accordance with government restrictions, all of our typical in person nutrition programming has been suspended. However, we remain committed to supporting the nutritional needs of our community members.
Over the past four months, Pueblo a Pueblo has supported 125 local beneficiary families with two more rounds of emergency food relief baskets. These baskets contained staple food items such as eggs, beans, corn, and cooking oil. COVID-19 has devastated the local economy, making it difficult for families to purchase enough food to keep everyone fed. With food insecurity on the rise, Pueblo a Pueblo is proud to be able to serve the community in this way.
Additionally, although schools have been closed since March, and students have been unable to participate in nutrition-related programming, the organic school gardens are being maintained for future harvests! The young adults who run the organic school gardens as a part of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Youth Leadership Project, have been, under COVID-19 safety guidelines, continuing to harvest existing vegetables, and preparing the soil for another round of plants. Whenever it becomes safe for students to resume working in the gardens, they will be ready!
Another recent way that Pueblo a Pueblo has been supporting the nutritional needs of our community is through the delivery of multivitamins. In partnership with Mayanza, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health of Guatemalan school children, Pueblo a Pueblo delivered 162 bottles of vitamins to constituent families in November.
With seven out of ten indigenous children in Guatemala suffering from chronic malnutrition, and many suffering from anemia, the provision of emergency food baskets and vitamins is a huge help. The multivitamins are iron-fortified, which helps to curb anemia, allow for the uptake of other vital nutrients, and boost the children’s energy. Pueblo a Pueblo is grateful for partnerships like this one that allow us to further meet the needs of our community.
During such a challenging year, we are so glad to still be supporting the nutritional needs of the Santiago Atitlan community. Thank you for believing in Pueblo a Pueblo’s vision of promoting sustainable livelihoods through nutrition. Your support is invaluable to the empowerment of rural Guatemalans!
As the world responds to the many changes that COVID-19 has brought, each community is adapting to its own new realities. In Guatemala, the first cases appeared in mid-March; the national government quickly established measures like closing schools, prohibiting public bus transportation, shutting the borders, limiting businesses and shops, and establishing a curfew. To ensure the safety and well-being of Pueblo a Pueblo staff and the people we serve, we postponed all face-to-face meetings and trainings and started working remotely.
All of these measures have helped reduce the spread of cases, but have also significantly impacted the daily life and economic stability of many Guatemalans. In the communities we serve, many individuals are part of the informal economy, and rely directly and indirectly on tourism to support their families. The restrictions in place to help combat COVID-19 have also led to widespread food insecurity among our community members.
Although schools have shifted to remote classes and school buildings remain closed, we continue to support the students that are receiving sponsorships. We have also been in touch with school principals and teachers to remain aware of the current challenges as well as the upcoming needs of students and their families. Our School Nutrition project has been greatly impacted by these school closures, as families traditionally participate in onsite nutrition trainings. However, we have conducted some online trainings as well as created some short videos to raise awareness on topics that are important in the communities we work in.
Pueblo a Pueblo analyzed both the short and long term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the communities we serve, and identified the most immediate problems to be heightened food insecurity and loss of family income. These challenges will, in the long run, impact the quality of education, health and nutrition amongst our community members. To reduce immediate food insecurity we set up donation drives, with help of some matching grants, to collect funds and distribute food baskets to prioritized families. Many of our sponsored students, youth leaders, and local project support workers have benefitted from these food baskets!
Amidst these challenging times, Pueblo a Pueblo is committed to adapting our plans to meet the changing needs of our communities. As always, our priority is working with communities to ensure positive, lasting impact, and as we continue to adapt, we will provide food baskets to families in the communities we serve.
Like many of our supporters around the world, you are probably participating in widespread social distancing efforts to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19—the Coronavirus—in your community. As the virus spreads throughout Guatemala, Pueblo a Pueblo is doing the same.
Just a few weeks ago, Nutrition Educator Sandy Mendoza was gearing up to lead her first round of healthy cooking classes in our partner schools. She had prepared a new curriculum and designed a new set of recipes featuring nutritious whole food ingredients to share with students and their parents.
However, in mid-March Pueblo a Pueblo made the difficult decision to suspend all in-person meetings and educational sessions to minimize the risk of exposing our beneficiaries and team to the virus.
At Pueblo a Pueblo, we recognize our ability to protect our most vulnerable friends, neighbors, and family members by practicing social distancing. By limiting our contact with others, especially in large group settings, we can ease the burden this virus is likely to place on our rural Guatemalan partner communities. Our staff will work remotely until further notice.
We look forward to the day that Sandy can bring her new curriculum to our partner schools. We continue to be invested in the health and wellness of our neighbors here on Lake Atitlán—and for now, the best way we can protect others is to stay at home.
This pandemic is already affecting our ability both to achieve our project goals and to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and beneficiaries. As we work to execute a swift and effective response, please consider making a donation to this project today.
Thank you in advance for your generosity—the future of our work here on Lake Atitlán depends on it.
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