I am beyond elated that my years of dreaming of having a Health and Resource Center is coming to fruition. To be honest, I never thought I would see the day, but with the help of Humble Hilo donations and other generous donors, this Center will be opening sometime this year in the main town of Senahu. We are going to transform what is now a vacant and rundown building into a Center that will improve the lives of people in need . This Center will serve many purposes and will create a ripple effect of change in this town and the 120 surrounding villages. I can't even begin to express my gratitude and excitement.
A little background about the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala: For centuries, this remote mountainous area was full of thriving coffee plantations that was exported all over the world. In the late 1990s, there was shift in coffee production to another region of the world and the coffee production in Alta Verapaz stopped. This completely disrupted and destroyed their economy, income, jobs, and way of life. Due to the lack of resources, education, and experience doing other type of work, the people of this region have been struggling ever since to recreate a stable life and now suffer from extreme poverty and malnutrition. Most families live on less than $1 a day, don't have a steady income and are just focused on making it through to the next day. The infant and child malnutrition rates are some of the highest in the world, along with maternal mortality. This region of Guatemala is so remote, it is conveniently forgotten by the government and many NGO aren't aware of the extreme poverty these people living in. After living and working in this area for years, I have seen the need first hand and am passionate about not only helping these people survive, but also giving them the tools to create change and empower them to break their cycle of poverty.
Establishing a Health and Resource Center is a major step in this direction of creating sustainable change. It'll make a world of difference to have a brick and mortar, permanent multi-use building where we can not only be the base for all our humanitarian efforts, but it will also create a refuge for those in need when they need it the most. Humble Hilo donations will be the main source of funding for most of the wonderful projects that will be based out of this center.
The Health and Nutrition Center will be a multi-use center and serve many capacities. We will have designated areas for different serves. Just to name a few, it will be a Center where we:
- Distribute food to malnourished babies and children and provide a place for the mothers and children have more to receive services
- Train mothers and family on proper nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene methods that will help prevent the continuation of malnourishment and other illnesses that plague families in this area
- Provide education to women and other families in need
- Establish a sewing center where women will have access to electricity (a rare commodity for many of them), sewing machines, and workshops to learn how to make products to sell in the market and on www.humblehilo.com. Humble Hilo has the goal to employ many women to help give them a steady income and provide for their impoverished families and help pull them out of the cycle of poverty
- Provide a place where health care workers can provide services with access to private examination rooms and adequate time to work with the women and children
- Provide a rehabilitation center for infants and children that are severely malnourished
- Provide lodging for women and children to stay a few nights who have traveled hours and sometimes days for nutritional support
- Create a community garden where trainings and demonstrations will be to taught to train mothers how to increase their family's food resources, and a kitchen where food preparation demonstrations will be done so mothers can try new, healthy ingredients and learn how to avoid low-nutritional value choices (canned drinks and bagged snacks)
- A suitable environment to teach new mothers best practices in relation to breast feeding
- A venue for health specialists to visit, screen and give talks, and also for local health workers to receive training in the identification of malnutrition
- A means of providing services at times and on days that are convenient for the mothers - reducing the need for lengthy waits in addition to traveling for hours in open trucks, often in heavy rain.
- A place to house volunteers that would like to come and help with the humanitarian projects
So much potential for change that goes hand in hand with this Health and Resource Center- I don't even know how to begin to put into writing what a big deal this is. There is still so much work that needs to be done to get the center in working order and running- the roof needs to be replaced, new pluming, new wiring, walls built, new paint, etc., but we are so excited about the potential change this will create.
We want to THANK YOU for helping us make this happen and look forward to keeping you posted on the progress and projects that will happen here. We couldn't have gotten where we are without the support of so many of our Humble Hilo family. Gracias for enabling us to make something we always dreamed of coming to life and helping so many people in need.