Advancing Health through Reforestation
In addition to the direct medical programming that Pop Wuj conducts in partnership with Timmy, the organization is also a Spanish language school that works with foreign student volunteers to carry out a number of social projects. In June, I had the chance to join Pop Wuj in one of their regular community projects – reforestation.
Pop Wuj has a number of programs serving the rural populations surrounding Xela, and the reforestation activity was a combination a few of these. Each week, student volunteers work with Pop Wuj staff and local families to build safe stoves in areas where people are otherwise cooking over an open fire. Each family that receives a stove participates in a number of educational meetings to learn about the health and environmental benefits to utilizing safe stoves. The families are then asked to participate in the reforestation project – working with volunteers to plant new trees on their land, to replenish areas that have been cut down for firewood.
In Llanos del Pinal, another longtime Pop Wuj project is a Family Support Center, serving 40 children ages 2-19, with before and after school care, meals, and homework help. As the kids were out of school this week for vacation, they joined us on the trek up the mountain to replant trees!
We divided into 3 groups, according to age and hiking distance, and each group set out with around 100 small trees, snacks, water, and tools. I joined the pre-teen group and we hiked for about a half an hour until we arrived at our location. The kids had a great time planting trees, hiking, chatting and enjoying the mountain. On the way back, we noticed a lot of refuse and worked together to gather up trash and recyclables. Each group came back with 2-3 large bags full!
While our Timmy projects focus on primary health care, it is important to remember all of the different factors impacting the health and wellbeing of the individuals and the communities that we serve. We are so lucky to work with an organization like Pop Wuj that takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to tackling these complex problems!
Below are a few photos of our reforestation project.
by Ashley Aue
Ashley is Timmy’s Medical Programs Coordinator on the ground in Xela, Guatemala. This blog post highlights ways that Timmy and our in-country partner Pop Wuj are working together to tackle global health challenges – in this case through promoting environmental health with reforestation initiatives.