Friday, September 4, 2009

Malnutrition CRISIS in GUATEMALA

Good Morning from the Clinica Maxeña! For all who have not visited our Mission, our Clinic is located in the lower coast on the Pacific side, about three hours from the city. Our town is about 13,000 population but borders a mountainous region of over 90communities of Mayan Indigenous population with an estimated 75,000 population.

The rains have been considerably less this year resulting in a critical dryness of the land which caused failed bean and corn crops, especially for the poor from the mountain communities. The failure of the crops and the extreme poverty has caused malnutrition to become a major health issue for the people we serve. Daily we are seeing infants and small children whose weight is critically low. Many children of 2 to 3 years can no longer stand or walk. All babies here are breast fed until at least one year old. This is a blessing as milk is not a product they can afford so children are weaned off the breast to sweetend coffee. We do supplement the malnourished children with formula or powdered fortified milk. Corn is of course grown in this region but more and more village men now use their small plots of land for cash crops such as coffee and a leaf used in making the traditional tamale. Coffee prices are down and the reality it is a once a year crop, the people are planting less coffee too. The land is fertile and there are many healthy herbs that grow naturally if the land is tilled properly. Some vegetables will also grow in this climate but money is scarce so people need assist in obtaining seed and organic compost and instruction. Pastoral Health of the diocese gives workshops on Agro-ecology. We have a Medicinal Plant Clinic that also grows some nutritional plants, native to the area.

The Clinic is constantly looking for ideas on how to assist the people lead more healthy lives. The people in need are knocking on our door for help. We have the confidence of the population, trained personell, but our coffers of funds are low.
We want to offer family vegetable gardens for the mothers of the malnourished and perhaps some chickens. They have small plots of land and we have the personell to teach organic gardens. We need to buy seeds, fencing, chickens and some garden tools. We know it is a drop in the bucket to the immense problem of malnutrition. We are well aware that the economic times are difficult in all parts of the world. We are a PEOPLE of FAITH! The Gospel inspire us to move forward with faith and hope and to reach out to those who are suffering the most. We can only accomplish goals through accompaniement of friends who have responded to our clinc needs over the years. We are now in our 45th year of our mission. Thank You for being one who has walked with us and the people of Guatemala.