I have a confession to make: I work for a large international relief and development organization and I have just 2.1 international trips under my belt. The 0.1 trip is the one I am currently on to Guatemala.
When we flew in to Guatemala City, I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it looked like flying into the Bob Hope International airport – much the same terrain. We made it through customs with much more ease than I expected and got into our bus for the long drive to Coban. For the first part of the trip, leaving Guatemala City, we saw a lot of reminders of home: McDonalds, Wendy’s, Quiznos, Wal-mart. Once we headed out of the city, we saw what life is like outside the city.
I’d say Guatemala is like the other countries in the region, but I’d be lying – I haven’t been to any of them – outside of Haiti a decade ago.
A shocking statistic: Guatemala ranks third worst in the world for chronic malnutrition. This results in stunted growth, physically, and stunted brain growth. The impact is highest in those under two. Yet the ground is fertile in Guatemala and there isn’t the traditional food shortage you see in other countries.
A lot of the problem is education. Teaching families the foods their 1 year old can eat. Helping teach sanitation.
Another is providing clean water. When you drink tainted water, you suffer from regular bouts of diarrhea that sucks the protein from your body. No protein, no healthy growth.
FH is helping communities to solve these problems through a partnership. It’s not enough to just swoop into a community and make changes, you need to educate people, you need them to buy in.
Today’s we’re going to visit those communities and learn about these programs.