• At least 90% of Guatemala’s water is contaminated by fecal matter.
• Waterborne diseases are among the leading killers of children under 5.
• A common cause of death is smoke inhalation, as mothers cook on
open fires inside an unventilated kitchen.
The mothers involved in our program receive a water filter and stove as part of their commitment. Our water filters remove bacteria, parasites, and viruses (170 gallons of filtered water a day, lasting a family 10 years). Our hand-built, clean-air stoves have a chimney that directs harmful smoke out of the kitchen and require significantly less wood.
We also build new block homes for community members with roofs that don’t leak, toilets that flush, and kitchens that ventilate. These homes are built with local workers, keeping jobs in the hands of Guatemalan men fighting to provide for their family.
We will continue to facilitate education on sanitation, safe water, and use of our stoves. As community members empower one another with this education, more needs will be identified and addressed. At every touchpoint of our work, we believe that if the community does not identify their own needs, the solution will lack ownership and sustainability.
The mothers in our program commit to a weekly, two-hour class that utilizes an
internationally used and recognized curriculum called Community Health Education. We focus on breastfeeding techniques, infant care and health promotion. The course content moves in conjunction will the ages of the infants. A local woman in our village, Lisbeth, has been apprenticing and now can teach the classes independently.
The final segment is a group Bible study. This partnership through the baby’s first year of life allows us to walk alongside these mothers and disciple them. Sharing the gospel and rooting on these mothers in the truth of Jesus Christ is the reason we exist. We will not allow acts of mercy to substitute genuine evangelism and discipleship.
Our program includes high-quality medical care from our team including our medical director, a Guatemalan pediatrician. The program includes an immediate initial exam with lab work so we may combat parasites, anemia or other ailments commonly co-existing with malnutrition.
The program also includes monthly well-checks where needed support is identified. We partner with other organizations to provide surgeries or treat conditions outside of our primary care structure. An infant’s history of malnutrition can often lead to delayed development, so we offer weekly onsite physical therapy with an excellent, local therapist.
Our program also provides vouchers to see our pediatrician in his clinic free of charge. This empowers a mother to make decisions about her baby’s health and seek care independently. For those families outside of our program, we continue to work faithfully to link them to local healthcare resources.
Educational classes, lactation counseling, and care plans created by our pediatrician are all utilized to facilitate healthy weight gain and growth. In severe cases, we supplement breastfeeding with formula and commit to providing this formula until the baby is 1 year old.
We are currently piercing the darkness with 56 babies, with our most malnourished infants have almost doubling their weight in the first month of the program (an average weight gain of 88%).
We offer community-wide infant screenings. This combination of mid-upper-arm circumference, height and weight z-scores and family interviews allow the most vulnerable babies to be identified. Also, several government-run clinics conduct nutritional screenings and refer the most severe babies to our clinic. Those malnourished babies identified join our program where we nourish these babies through their first year of life.