Helping Candy and Her Mother Overcome Malnutrition
By Anne Kraemer Diaz - Executive Director, Maya Health Alliance
Candy at 1 Month
Candy was one month old when she entered into the Wuqu' Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance Nutrition Program. She is from the remote village of Paquip in the Guatemalan Highlands where rates of malnutrition have historically been greater than 70% among children under five years old. Working with the nearby health center, our local nutrition technician Rosa arranged a visit to Candy's home shortly after she was born. After being weighed and measured, it was determined that Candy was suffering from chronic malnutrition. While her weight was within normal level, she was very short for her age, suggesting that she was at risk for child stunting.
Over the next 18 months, Rosa made regular visits to monitor Candy's weight and provide her mother with support. She counselled Candy's mother about nutrition, helping her to plan out healthy meals using the resources available to her. In addition, Candy's mother began attending regular nutrition classes with other mother's in the nutrition program forming a community of mutual support. She also received monthly supplies of beans, eggs, and nutributter, a supplement to encourage child growth.
By the end of her time in the program, Candy was within normal weight and height for her age. Her mother is very grateful to have been part of the program and for the consistent attention she received from Rosa.
By Anne Kraemer Diaz - Executive Director Wuqu' Kawoq - Maya Health
Over the past year we have been busy preparing to launch our community gardens pilot study, which aims to foster community cooperation and provide a sustainable source of nutritious foods for families and children in rural Guatemala. The study will take place over 18 months in partnership with the community of Chutiestancia and the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Participants will work together to grow and harvest a wide range of local herbs and vegetables while receiving training and support from the Maya Health nutrition staff. Through community interviews, observation, and child nutrition monitoring we will be able to see how integrating a community garden component into our usual nutrition program affects child nutrition and growth.
We are excited to report that the project is off to a great start! Many families have entered into the program and begun training courses with our local nutrition technicians. In addition, our garden has been constructed the first harvest is growing quickly. Throughout this process, we have continued to provide support and treatment for malnourished children in the community. Soon, we will be able to gather some preliminary results of the study, which will help us to understand our impact.
This pilot study reinforces Wuqu' Kawoq’s commitment to continuous learning and development. By working with communities to execute rigorous evaluation while maintaining a high level of care, we are able to better understand our impact and improve the services we offer to our patients. The results of our study will also be used by the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to contribute to a broader understanding of nutrition projects and serve as an example for other organizations working to combat child malnutrition. If all goes well, after the pilot study we will be able to expand the gardens project to more communities.
Thank you so mcuh for your incredible, on-going support! Because of you, we are transforming the lives of malnourished children, their families and the future of Guatemala.
By Anne Kraemer Diaz - Executive Director Maya Health Alliance
Anderson was only 20 days-old when he was diagnosed with acute chronic malnutrition. His mother had severely inflamed breasts, which prevented her from nursing Anderson. As a result of these poor feeding habits, he was drastically underweight and at serious risk of stunting in addition to other developmental diseases.
Anderson was quickly enrolled into the Maya Health nutrition program, through which he received two visits per month from Rosita, one of our local nutrition technicians. Initially, Rosita focused on helping Anderson’s mother by providing injections to reduce swelling in her breasts and later offering breastfeeding education. This intervention greatly improved Anderson’s health, but he continued to grow at a slow rate. Once he was old enough to eat solid foods, Anderson’s family began receiving a monthly allowance of eggs, beans, and nutributter (a supplemental vitamin for children). Anderson also received regular parasite treatment, and his mother received nutrition counseling in their home to help her provide a healthy diet for her baby.
Currently, Anderson is fourteen months-old and at a healthy weight. He has a good appetite, and is very active. One of his favorite pastimes is playing with his toy car. Anderson’s mother is participating in a nutrition class provided by Maya Health Alliance at the local health center to continue learning about healthy food options. Their family still receives regular visits and food supplements from Rosita. Anderson’s growth will continue to be monitored until he turns two, at which point he will graduate from the nutrition program. You can see from his pictures that he his growing and thriving, because of your support!
Anderson is one of 1500 children who receive treatment in our nutrition program each year. The need for these services is dire in Guatemala where over 45 percent of children under five years-old suffers from malnutrition. At Maya Health Alliance, our strategy focuses on providing education and nutrition supplements during the first two years of life. A recent study showed that severe malnutrition has been reduced by 35 percent in the communities where we work. These changes will have a lifelong impact on our patients, who will be at lower risk for respiratory, digestive, and chronic diseases. They also will have improved cognitive development and greater earning potential in adulthood. None of this work would be possible without the support of our donors.
Thank you for giving Anderson and other children a chance at a brighter future! We are so grateful for your incredible support!