We are thrilled to share the news that our Research Fellow Dr. Gabriela Montenegro is one of seven talented scientists honored with the 2023 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World! What a great way to celebrate International Women's Day!
Among other things, Dr. Montenegro, a nutrition expert, leads our work investigating the impact of daily egg consumption on infant growth and development in rural Guatemala. The Saqmolo’ Project (named for the word “egg” in the Mayan language of Kaqchikel) is looking at whether children who receive an egg each day in their diets in addition to other recommended nutritional supplements fare significantly better in growth and development. Work like this helps the government and organizations like ours understand what works best in the fight against malnutrition.
After studying in Guatemala, the US, the Netherlands, and Germany, Dr. Montenegro returned to Guatemala to realize her dream of working as a researcher focused on community health in her home country. She is excited to have the opportunity to foster collaborative, science-based research to shift policies and create effective practices to improve health outcomes.
“We are one Guatemala, and we have to work together for changes, make our contributions as citizens,” she said. “We at Wuqu’ Kawoq are committed to doing this.”
Happy New Year!
We’re off to a strong start in the fight against malnutrition in rural Guatemala in 2023!
We are especially pleased to share that we have completed our first community nutrition workshops since the arrival of Covid. Classes in these four-month workshops allow caregivers to support one another and to brainstorm ways to feed their children healthier, more diverse diets.
When the arrival of Covid precluded community gatherings, we used the time to revise and improve the curriculum. The newly designed classes focus on a different theme each of the four months: nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, supplementary feeding (adding other foods and nutrients to babies’ diets), and preventing malnutrition.
In each class, caregivers contribute ideas, share their experiences, and learn new strategies to improve their family's nutrition. In the photo above, participants mash up vegetables so they can sprinkle in micronutrient supplements – a winning strategy to get kids to eat the “sprinkles” that they normally dislike.
The first series of post-Covid classes began in October and wrapped up this month. It is a joy to be able to bring together mothers to build stronger futures for their children!
Thanks to each of you for making this important work possible!
Thanks to donors like you, every year, hundreds of children in rural Guatemala are getting a chance at a more promising future. Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition in Latin America and the sixth highest rate in the world.
With your help, we are working with families to nurture their children’s growth and development. We are constantly looking at new ways to create practical, sustainable solutions, from community cooking classes using locally available foods, to phone-based apps to help caregivers track children's developmental milestones such as crawling, sitting, and talking.
Your support is literally lifesaving. Malnutrition not only poses immediate risks but also can affect a child’s brain development, future opportunities, and long-term health.
We hope you will take a moment to watch this brief thank you video from our staff and Board!
We hope that you will include Wuqu' Kawoq in your Giving Tuesday plans!
We are making progress every day toward greater health equity by delivering high-quality care in our patients' Mayan languages, homes, and communities.
Why does this matter?
In recent years, Covid-19, climate change, rising costs, and migration have revealed our interconnections as a global community and demonstrated the importance of ensuring that everyone has the best possible chance for health and well-being. We are dedicated to transforming health care in Guatemala to make this vision a reality. To get a sense of our approach, consider this reflection from Patrick Liu, a medical resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Boston Children’s Hospital/Boston Medical Center who recently spent time in the field with our team.
My parents are immigrants from small communities in Taiwan and thus much more accustomed to traditional Chinese medicine, and so experiencing the Western medicine-based healthcare system was a very jarring experience for them. I served as an interpreter (in terms of both language and culture) for my parents while growing up, including in healthcare settings, and I could always feel that they were much more comfortable with obtaining medical care in Taiwan, in their native language and community.
Seeing that juxtaposition in their comfort level was a powerful motivator for my aspirations to become a primary care physician in rural and/or global settings. I am an Internal Medicine-Pediatrics resident now and had the wonderful opportunity to spend one month in Guatemala, of which two weeks were spent with Wuqu' Kawoq in Tecpán. There, I experienced firsthand the tremendous impact that a home-based, language-concordant, community-centered program can have on a population's trust in the healthcare system and the community's understanding of medical conditions.
There is no way to adequately describe the strength of connection without seeing it in-person. I thought often of my parents and how they would have benefited tremendously from a program like Wuqu' Kawoq. I simply cannot wait to return to Guatemala and am so grateful to Wuqu' Kawoq for giving me an experience of a model of care and a community that felt like a second home to me.
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