Learning and Growing in Buena Vista, Guatemala
This week, members of Timmy’s Guatemala team visited La Victoria and Buena Vista, two communities participating in the NutriButter program here in Xela. While the act of visiting these two wonderful places is no longer new – we’ve been running monthly meetings since last July when Dr. Meg Sullivan started the program – this time, a marked difference in participation, understanding, and enjoyment was experienced by all involved.
We presented a new lesson on a rather dense topic: the cycle of malnutrition and infection in young children. The consequences of malnutrition are manifold, and we try to focus on both the positive – ways to improve life through better and more varied nutrition – and the potential negatives, in particular risk of disease and chronic deficiencies and intellectual and physical stunting. Despite the difficulty of the subject at hand, the mothers participated more so than ever before. Through the use of well-timed pauses for questioning, visual aids, and memory games, we were able to both encourage active input and a large number of smiling faces. Interest is so high that the women from both communities have requested increased classes, new ones focused specifically on cooking healthfully and with limited cost. Next month we venture out to the house of Dona Ana, our strongest connection to the community of Buena Vista and the host of our Mobile Clinics, to cook a large lunch for more than 40 women who are interested in learning more improving their lives through increased nutrition and healthcare access.
At the end of both lessons in La Victoria and Buena Vista, we brought out a camera to take portraits of the moms and babies involved, which started a whole new session of giggling, squirming, and excitement. After spending a significant amount of time building relationships with these women who, on the surface, have very little in common with us as American public health workers, we have been able to bridge a connection that crosses cultural, economic, and linguistic barriers. The future holds incredible opportunity, as the improvements in communication and information intake have improved greatly in a short period of time. We look forward to a similar sense of community building among our newest participants from Llanos de Pinal and Tierra Colorada, who have only just begun their learning and growing process with Timmy and the NutriButter program.