As we continue the expansion of our “Niños Chispudos” early childhood nutrition program, we are excited to share photos from the community of Caliaj!
In this community, 29 children in the program received a physical examination by our doctor and nurse, as well as a panel of laboratory tests conducted on-site by our laboratory technician. Our community development and social work staff also presented educational workshops for the mothers to promote healthy eating and basic hygiene practices, in addition to conducting basic socioeconomic interviews with each mother to help us get to know the families who we are serving and to learn how we can more effectively support them.
Though Guatemala has historically had one of the highest levels of childhood malnutrition in Latin America—as well as worldwide—new government statistics show that the country’s situation has worsened even more drastically over the past year. Current numbers reported by the Guatemalan Ministry of Health show an increase of up to 16% in cases of severe malnutrition in children 5 years old and younger, compared to the same months of 2020!
One of the primary factors for this increase is obviously the Covid-19 epidemic, both due to the impact of the virus on those who have fallen ill, as well as of the difficulties caused by restrictions implemented by the government to slow the virus’s spread. These restrictions especially impacted workers in the country’s informal economy, whose employment lacked established pay, benefits or protections. In addition, the 2 back-to-back tropical storms that ravaged parts of the country in the fall of last year, along with the clear, longer term impacts that climate change is having on the growing season of the agricultural sectors across the country, have also played an integral role.
The need for nutritional support in Guatemala, specifically in the rural, indigenous communities is great, and the devastating, long-term effects that severe malnutrition has on children, especially in the critical early years of development, is truly sobering. However, we are excited to see the positive impact that programs such as Mission Guatemala’s “Niños Chispudos” program is having in the communities that we serve, and, we look forward to continuing to serve these children and families through this program as we work to “do all the good we can!”
To learn more about this new program expansion, click here!
To see more photos from this day, click here!