Luisa’s new chance at life

Guatemala is currently facing a diabetes epidemic, and especially at risk is the large indigenous population living in rural communities. In fact more than 25% of the indigenous people suffer from type 2 or pre-diabetes because of their genetics, diet and lifestyle. 

 Luisa (age 72) lives in a small house in one of the many alleys of San Pablo La Laguna. She has a big family; 7 children and 21 grandchildren. Currently, she shares her home with 12 of her family members, between her children, in-laws, grandchildren and husband the house is never quiet. “I enjoy being with my family. Sometimes we all eat together, and that makes me very happy because we get to talk and share a moment. When there’s no one home I feel lonely because I have no one to talk to”. 



Most of the men in her family are day workers at the fields. “We live day by day with what my husband gets paid. We usually spend what he earns that same day. It’s hard because he doesn’t have a salary we can count on, and everyday there is less work”.

 When Luisa was first diagnosed with diabetes she didn’t really know what it was, but as soon as she find out it can’t be cured she started crying. “I thought I was going to die soon, especially because I had lost a lot of weight”. Doctors told her that they were going to give her medicine, and that she could be stable if she stopped eating foods with a high sugar and fat content. 

 Luisa started to go to a doctor in one of the neighboring towns, who charged her around $40 for one consultation and she needed to buy her own medicine. This was an expense she could not keep up with. “Where are we supposed to get the money for the medicine when there is no work?”

 When Luisa found ODIM she felt relieved by the support she got. “I felt like the program gave me a new chance at life. We learn about diabetes and they show us how to exercise and what we should eat. Now I exercise every night before going to sleep”. Luisa also has access to all the medication she needs to keep her glucose levels under control. All of this is possible thanks to her sponsor, who covers the cost of her participation in the “Let’s Walk Together” program.

 The “Let’s Walk Together” Diabetes Club focuses on inciting lifestyle changes and breaking down social stigmas surrounding diabetes with lessons on the disease, healthy cooking classes and a support group. Patients also receive monthly health consultations and the necessary medicine . There are currently 63 patients enrolled in our program. 

 You can change one these patients’ life by donating $80 a month.This would cover the costs of their monthly check-ups, medication, tests, lessons, cooking classes, activities and the support group. By supporting one of our participants you are enabling them to lead a healthy life with diabetes.

Our June Ambassador: Kay

Every month, Rosario comes to the clinic in San Pablo to get her hypertension medication. Since she was diagnosed three years ago she hasn’t missed one single consultation. “If it wasn’t for the clinic I wouldn’t be able to get my medicine anywhere else”.

ODIM team

ODIM team

 Rosario lives with her daughter in a tiny but cozy house in San Pablo. She usually comes by herself to the clinic, but lately her daughter has been coming with her because she is expecting a baby and needs prenatal care. Rosario is very excited to meet her first grandchild.

 Since she was diagnosed with hypertension, the Chuitinamit Clinic is the only place she gets her medicine for free, "It is hard for me to come up with the Q20 (around $3) for the consultation. But at least I'm sure I will get my medication”.

 Nurse Rebeca is the one that checked Rosario, during her last consultation, and made sure that her blood pressure was under control. Rebeca is  from San Pedro and is fluent in Tz’utujil. Since Rosario doesn't speak a lot of Spanish, she feels very comfortable communicating with Rebeca in their native language. By the end of the appointment, she received the medicine that she needed to treat her hypertension.

This year, we have had 25% more consultations than what we had during the same period last year. This makes us very excited, because it means more people have access to healthcare, but it also means we need more funding to keep doing our work.

During the month of June, all of this was possible thanks to the support of our Ambassador Kay Soetaert. Kay has been an ODIM supporter for several years now:

I was blessed with meeting JoAna Dwyer (ODIM founder) around 2007 on a mission trip with a group from Overland Park, Kansas. I had been on other mission trips working with Habitat for Humanity and also San Lucas Mission in Guatemala. At the time ODIM was a very grass roots organization and I fell in love with the people of San Pablo and San Juan. I did annual trips on construction teams but also became involved with some of the printing projects needed by ODIM. As I became more involved and spent more time in the communities I witnessed the progress being made in health care and health education. There are so many dedicated to this mission and the ODIM staff is amazing and very committed. I am very grateful to be a small part of ODIM and will continue to be a donor and volunteer for years to come.”

Nurse Rebeca and Rosario

Nurse Rebeca and Rosario

By becoming an Ambassador, Kay provided medical care, lab tests and medicines for all of our patients in our two clinics. That is 656 consultations, in which patients didn’t need to pay extra for their medication or laboratory tests. Her donation also allowed us to cover the costs of home visits, salaries of the Doctor, our Nurses, and our Receptionist, the costs of electricity and keeping the clinic clean. 

 In summary, she enabled  us to continue to provide quality healthcare to patients like Rosario, and to continue to employ competent local professionals, like Nurse Rebeca. 

 You can change the life of hundreds of people from San Juan and San Pedro La Laguna too! We are looking for special companies to pledge to take on the costs of one month of medical costs each year. With $7000 you can help us keep our clinics open for one more month. Become an ODIM Ambassador. 

Yaneth talks about our clinics

2019 has been a busy year for our clinics. The number of patients and consultations has increased significantly, compared to the first six months of last year. It feels very good to know that we are truly making a difference in our communities.



 Between our two clinics, in San Juan and San Pablo, we have provided 4,145 consultations from January to June. This is a 25% increase from the same period in 2018. Every consultation includes laboratory tests and medicine. Yaneth, our Clinic Administrator, is glad our clinics are being of help to our communities, “We are very proud to be serving more people this year, and we want to provide quality healthcare to as many as we can.”

 “In ODIM we provide quality healthcare for the people in San Juan and San Pablo La Laguna at an affordable price. Patients pay a nominal fee of approximately $3. This gives them access to a medical consultation with our doctor or nurse, laboratory tests and medicine. We´ve realized that giving them access to medicine has been incredibly helpful for them, since this is usually with what they struggle the most.

 We know that it is very important to include the medicine with each consultation”, Yaneth, explains, “if we just give them a prescription they are not going to buy the medicine or they are just going to buy some of it, whatever they can afford. With some treatments, like antibiotics, we can´t let them do that. That is why we make sure to give them the exact amount of medicine they need”.

 People from our communities have few options to get access to medicine. The local health center will not charge them for a consultation, and they should be able to provide them the medicine they need for free. However, most of the time they have run out of supplies or they don´t have enough, “Sometimes our diabetic patients have told us that the health center gave them the medicine, but they didn´t give them enough. For example, they give them 20 pill for the whole month, and some of them need 2 or 3 pills a day. Public health centers are forced to do this because they don´t have enough for everyone, so they ration what they have”. 

 The other option is to go to a private doctor, but that can be very expensive and most people can´t afford it, “a private doctor will cost patients 5 times what we charge and they have to pay for their own laboratory tests and medicine. We have several patients that come from other communities, because it is cheaper for them to travel than to go to a local doctor”

 You can help us provide medication to all of our patients. Your donation can make a big difference in someone’s life. Without your collaboration, most people in our communities would probably struggle to afford the medicine they need.  Donate to our Clinical Services, and help us make sure we have enough medication for the rest of the year.

The medicine she needs

In Guatemala, rural, poor, indigenous communities are the ones with the least infrastructure for health services. People who live there have very few options when it comes to their fundamental right to health. Public health centers are usually understaffed and lack sufficient medical supplies. With over half of the population living on less than a $1 a day, healthcare becomes a luxury. 



 Petronila owns a “tortilleria” in San Pablo, where she works with her mom. Their main source of income is making and selling tortillas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She lives with her two daughters and with her son-in-law. She first came for a consultation when she realized that food tasted different “everything was very sweet to me”. She was diagnosed with diabetes, and that changed her life.

 She realized that she was going to need constant visits to the doctor and access to medicine if she wanted to continue living her normal life. The idea of having to buy medicine every month was daunting, she didn’t know how she would be able to afford it. 

 The people from San Pablo and San Juan La Laguna don’t have a lot of options when it comes to healthcare. Both towns have a local Health Center, which is supposed to provide free consultations and medicine. However, they usually don’t have enough medicine for everyone. Patients cannot rely on state funded services to have access to what they need. Depending on public health centers is very risky, especially when you need monthly treatments. 

Petronila getting her medication

Petronila getting her medication

 On the other hand, private doctors charge 5 times more what we charge in our clinics, and laboratory tests and medicine are never included. This is not really an option for most people living in our communities. 

 It’s been three years since Petronila was first diagnosed. Luckily, she found Chuitinamit Clinic. Our diabetic patients pay a little bit less than our other patients (less than $2), because they need monthly checkups. Every consultation includes the laboratory tests and the medicine they need. “This has been a huge help for me. I don’t worry anymore, because I know that I’ll always get my medicine and I’ll be able to keep my sugar levels controlled. If it wasn’t for the clinic, I don’t know what I would do to treat my diabetes”.

 Our clinics exist to provide compassionate, competent and comprehensive medical care.

You can help us keep our clinics open and continue to provide medicine to the people in our communities. Your donation can give someone access to healthcare and medication. Donate to our Clinical Services, to provide health services to our patients in San Pablo and San Juan La Laguna. 

Domingo’s biggest wish is to be able to see again

Two years ago, Domingo realized that his sight was blurrier than usual. He thought it was something temporary so he didn’t worry. Today, Domingo barely leaves his house because the cataracts have clouded most of his vision. He has tried to get surgery several times, but due to his diabetes and high-glucose levels, doctors cannot operate on him. 

Domingo and his two sons.

Domingo and his two sons.

Domingo (age 41) has been living with diabetes for 8 years. He used to be a cleaning supplies salesman, going door to door in San Pablo to make a living. During his free time, he enjoyed hanging out by the lake with his family.  Now, he spends most of his days sitting in a hammock in his living room, listening to the TV. When the cataracts clouded his vision almost entirely, two years ago, his life changed completely. 

 His family is worried that going out on his own might be too dangerous for him, “They say that I might fall or something bad could happen to me, and that is going to make our situation worse”.  That is why he spends most of his time alone at home. This has had a huge impact in Domingo´s mood and emotional state.

 Domingo’s wife has become the main provider for the family, that is why she is working double shifts at a restaurant in San Marcos. This means she is rarely at home and cannot help Domingo with his daily activities as much as she would like to. Luckily, his 20-year-old son helps him around the house sometimes and keeps him company whenever he can. 

 Last year, he went to a clinic during a medical mission, expecting to get surgery to remove the cataracts and regain his vision. Unfortunately his blood glucose levels were too high and doctors could not operate on him. The inability to get surgery is the main cause of frustration for Domingo, since all he wants is to recover his eyesight, “the hardest part is to not be able to go out and work. It hurts me to stay at home all day every day.”


 Domingo has tried to keep his glucose levels in a normal range, but it seems like nothing is really working. Since he first started going to the Sanjuanerita Clinic he changed his diet and stopped eating sugars and highly processed foods. He also started getting insulin, so he could inject it every day at home. Despite all of these efforts, his blood sugar levels continue unchanged, and this has prevented him from getting the surgery that he needs to recover his sight. 

 Domingo is one surgery away from getting his sight back and going back to his normal active life. To get there, he first needs to keep his glucose levels in check, and you can help him achieve this!

 Right now, our main objective is to monitor Domingo’s blood sugar levels, to find out if the insulin is being effective. We also want to make sure that the insulin is being administered properly. To do this we need to (1) get a blood glucose meter for Domingo to keep at home and (2) get a promoter to visit him at least once a week, to train the family on how to measure glucose levels and help with the insulin injections, as well as to check on Domingo’s progress. Since this is a special case, we are going to need some extra funding.

 Help us give Domingo his sight and his life back. Your donation is going to enable us to cover the costs of monitoring his blood sugar levels and, hopefully, lower them enough to have surgery and finally recover his vision. Donate now.


Meet Juan!

Juan is a bright 18-year-old student from San Pablo La Laguna. He is in his first year of High School and has been in the ODIM scholarship program for 5 years now.


Juan lives with his mom and his three siblings in San Pablo. His mom washes clothes for other families to make a living, while Juan works an after school job chopping wood in the mountains. When Juan was 14 years old, his dad left his family for about 2 years, which was very hard for them. “We didn’t have food or money, and my mom was very worried, she didn’t know how we were going to make it to end of the month. I decided to help her and I started working, which meant I could not continue studying. For two years I was out of school, but I was very sad because I wanted to accomplish more in my life”.

His mom realized that he wanted to study, so she told him to go ahead and do it, but they still needed financial support. “The day that I found out about this program I was incredibly happy. It changed my life completely, because now I can accomplish my dreams”. Juan believes that studying is the most important thing in someone´s life. After High School he wants to go to university and study to become an architect. “If I didn’t have this kind of help I would still be working and wouldn’t even finished middle school”.

The story of Juan is very common among the children and teenagers of San Pablo La Laguna, where the drop-out rate is 80%. Most families cannot afford to pay for school and the children have to end schooling to help their family financially. Through the Scholarship program we cover the costs of their education, paying for tuition, uniforms and school supplies. However, children are often times not given the guidance or time needed in the home and in the schools in order to truly excel. Therefore, we staff three teachers to provide group tutoring and enrichment classes to the children involved. Once each month the children additionally participate in a community service project so they develop leadership skills and a community spirit. Our teachers have also helped the students form an artisan production cooperative in which they make origami earrings of recycled corn chip bags, crocheted hacky sack balls and hair bobs. Students sell these items to visiting volunteer teams in order to raise funds to help defray some of their school expenses.

A donation of $80.00 a month will help one of these children achieve his or her dreams.

For more information about sponsorships reach out to Communications and Fundraising Manager, Katja Gryl at
To sign up as a sponsor click here

Candelaria´s journey with diabetes

Candelaria is 55 years old and lives in San Juan La Laguna with her husband and her two younger sons. Candelaria works as a cook, while her husband works in the fields. Unfortunately, the money that they both make is not always enough to make ends meet, but they try to provide for their sons as much as they can.

Candelaria has been a part of the “Let´s Walk Together” Diabetes Program since it first started in 2012. She was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007, and before coming to the San Juan clinic she used to go to San Pedro for her check-ups, which was further away and more expensive.

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“I thank god for the chance that he gave me. Even though diabetes is something that I have to live with, I can still live a full life. I need to keep my sugar levels in balance, but other than that I live a normal, happy life.”

Despite Candelaria´s current positive mindset, when she was diagnosed, it was hard for her to accept it. She didn’t feel like herself and she struggled with mental health, “I was very sad. I felt so bad that I didn´t even want to go out; I stayed in my house all day. In 2009 one of my sons was killed, and that made everything worse. There was a point when I even thought about ending my own life, because I thought it would be easier than having to live with diabetes. But I was lucky I had the support of my husband, who helped me get better and encourage me to continue living an active life. Now I am very happy and motivated.”

Candelaria really enjoys coming to the talks and the workshops, since they distract her and she gets to learn a lot, “Every time I come I leave my worries behind.  I get to exercise and learn new things. I even became friends with the other participants; we share our experiences and give each other advice”.

Since she joined our Let´s Walk Together Club, Candelaria has made some major changes in her lifestyle. Now she is on a sugar-free and low-calorie diet, which includes drinking lots of water. The support of her family has been one of the main reasons she has been able to stick to these changes: “No one in my home drinks soda anymore, because I cannot drink it. They also stopped eating food with too much fat, because of me. It has made things easier for me”.

In the poor communities of Guatemala, the lack of resources for primary health care, low physical activity and bad nutrition have contributed with the permanence of diabetes as one of the main causes of death in the country. Our Let´s Walk Together Program encourages them to make lifestyle changes that are going to improve their health.

For more information about our program and our sponsorship opportunities reach out to Communications and Fundraising Manager, Katja Gryl at To sign up as a sponsor click here

Marvin and Paul's Story

ODIM´s Scholarship Program is currently helping children and teenagers from San Pablo La Laguna to continue their studies and graduate from High School. In Guatemala, only 24% of children of school age attend High School. In most cases, they drop out because of economic reasons - because their families cannot afford tuition, uniforms and school supplies and because they are required to work from a young age.


Through our sponsorship program a donor can cover the cost of one of our students in the program. Paul and Julie Copping are currently sponsoring Marvin, an 18-year-old from San Pablo La Laguna who is studying Business Administration.

When Paul was visiting Guatemala he had the chance to meet Marvin and learn more about him:

Marvin is an amazing young man. His father passed away a couple of years ago and he was forced to quit school in order to support his family.  He made it very clear that without the scholarship program he would not be able to attend school.  He crosses the lake to another town to go to a Business school to study business and then spends every afternoon breaking up rocks by hand to create gravel.”

Knowing Marvin´s story helped Paul truly understand the significance that the scholarship has for these students: “Since I am a business owner I felt a connection to Marvin because of his studies in business, but at the same time was humbled by the effort that was required of him on a daily basis in order to do this and still provide support for his mother and sister.  After one meeting with Marvin and hearing his story I knew we had made the right choice in committing to be his sponsor and providing the financial support needed to allow this wonderful young man the opportunity for a better life for himself and his family.”

You can also become a sponsor and change the life of a child or teenager in San Pablo La Laguna!

For more information reach out to Katja Gryl at To sign up as a sponsor click here. It cost $80 a month to sponsor a student. Once you have signed up you will receive a profile of your sponsored student, as well as updates about how he or she is doing every six months.

Rosa and Mary´s Story

In Guatemala, the amount of people with diabetes has been increasing every year, and it is currently the third most common cause of death in the country. We have helped over 300 patients with diabetes in our two clinics. Some of them decide to take their treatment one step further joining our Let´s Walk Together Club.

Our sponsorship program allows one donor to cover the costs of one of our participants in the program. Mary is one of our sponsors and during her visit to Guatemala she had the chance to meet with Rosa, the woman whom she is now sponsoring. 


Mary has a special interest in this program because her father was a Type 1 diabetic, which means she knows how important it is for them to have the support of those closest to them. “I grew up on an American Diabetic Association diet and I am very familiar with the importance of family support in a diabetic's development of the self-discipline needed to control diabetes.   Throughout his life, my father was an advocate and role model for newly-diagnosed diabetics, so I am glad to be able to continue his work in Guatemala through an ODIM sponsorship”.

Mary visited Rosa at her house in San Pedro La Laguna. They were able to talk (with the help of a translator) and got to know each other a little bit more:

“Rosa and I talked about the different components of the Let’s Walk Together program.  She does not want to miss the monthly sessions at which her blood sugar is tested or at which she receives medication. Her family at home, currently her husband and youngest son, join her in eating healthy meals. She tells them they can add sugar to their food, but they never do.

Rosa is grateful that people who live in San Pedro can be included in the ´Let´s Walk Together´ program based in San Juan. However, sometimes she has to miss the group meetings, because she must pay for a tuk-tuk to get to and from San Juan each week and she can´t always afford it. This makes her sad, because for her that is the most fun. At the meeting, participants exercise, encourage one another, do role-plays, and engage in other activities.

The opportunity I have had to meet Rosa and her husband in their home, to hear about their three adult children, to see her darling puppy, and to hear how much she appreciates being part of Let’s Walk Together adds to my joy in being able to commit $30 a month to ODIM Guatemala as a diabetic sponsorship.”

You can also be a sponsor and help someone like Rosa live a full life! For more information reach out to Communications and Fundraising Manager, Katja Gryl at communications.manager@odimguatemala. org. To sign up as a sponsor click here

It cost $30 to sponsor a diabetes patient - covering the complete cost of the patient in our program. Once you have signed up as a sponsor you will receive a profile of your sponsored patient, and updates about his or her progress every 6 months.

Meet our new team member

Welcome Stephany!

 We are excited to welcome a new member to the team. Stephany joins us as our Community Health Program Manager and will be leading ODIM’s community health programs to continue to strive for a greater impact.

Stephany brings a wealth of knowledge and experience within social work to the team, having worked on various educational and health projects at organizations such as USAID and World Vision. Her work experience is complemented by an MA in Advance Development in Social Work from the University of Lincoln (UK) and a passion for gender issues.   

Stephany was born and raised in Guatemala but she has been in love with the people and the life at Lake Atitlan for as long as she can remember. For the past few months she has been commuting back and forth to volunteer for ODIM, but now she has finally settled down here in San Juan.

 We asked her why she chose ODIM and here is what she told us:

“Guatemala has a complicated socio-economic context, therefore organizations such as ODIM who are providing educational and health services, are key for the development of my country. What I really like about ODIM is that we have a mixture of local and international knowledge, which has allowed our programs to be high quality.  The staff at ODIM is our greatest asset – each and everyone is welcoming, hardworking and always putting the needs of our communities first.

 I am in love with Guatemala’s rural beauty, our diversity and cultural richness. I enjoy living in rural areas, getting to know people, the nature and the delicious food. I am really excited to be part of ODIM, to have found an organization that promotes gender equality, reproductive rights and the development of indigenous communities. I am looking forward to continue the important work of our community health programs, while finding creative and dynamic ways to have an even greater impact.”

Welcome to the family Stephany. We are proud to have you on board!

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Why is our Adolescent Health Program so important?

By Stephany Giron Roncal and Melany Cholotio

Guatemala has a complex socio-economic and political context, which is rooted in a traditional and patriarchal culture. A lack of investment in welfare, a high level of corruption in the government and widespread poverty make Guatemala one of the most unequal countries in the world. While women represent more than half of the world’s population, in Latin American countries they are still one of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. In this part of the world, ‘poverty is rural, indigenous and feminine’ (Colom, 2010). Women face daily gender discrimination in every aspect of their lives: they suffer from high levels of violence and poverty, low levels of education, limited access to health care, and a lack of political representation (Country Watch, 2015).

Additionally, in 2018 according to the Sexual and Reproductive Health Observatory (Osar) Guatemala registered 2,153 pregnancies among 10 and 14 years old girls. The lack of integral sexual education and access to healthcare in Guatemala has oppressed women and hinder their access to resources and opportunities. Therefore, there is a clear need to educate young people to prevent teenage pregnancies.

It is on these grounds that our Adolescent Health program was born – an initiative that aims to educate young people from San Juan and San Pablo La Laguna about sexuality, reproductive rights, contraceptives and gender equality among other important topics. Through dynamics and creative workshops, we offer young people information and tools to understand their bodies, their behavior and their sexuality.

Why do we work with both girls and boys?

 The root cause for inequality, violence and poverty of women appears to be the oppression of women stemming from unequal power relations and persistent discrimination (UN, 2006 cited in Mapp, 2012). In order to promote gender equality and empower women, it is necessary to re-address education. Furthermore, is important to realize that if women are treated and viewed as inferior to men within society and their families, then boys and girls will reproduce the same behaviors and believes. Education programs need to be tailored according to each community’s needs and context and in order to challenge traditional and patriarchal views on women, both men and women need to be involved.

Thus, during our trainings, we empower the boys and girls to be part of and engage with their communities, to show their leadership skills and learn about their rights. One of the great things about the program is that the participants become the voices and leaders of their community and educate other young people. By creating educational and safe environments, discussions and debates about gender equality can take place. It is through sharing, unpacking and re-learning that behaviors and beliefs are modified.

 We are excited and happy to continue to work hard for gender equality, reproductive rights and access to sexual education!

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Colom Caballeros, A. (2010) La pobreza es rural, indígena y mujer. El Pais, 22 July. Available from [accessed 18 June 2018]. (Spanish).

Country Watch (2015) Guatemala:Country Review. Houston: Country Watch Inc. Available from http://www.countr [accessed 18 June 2018].

Mapp, S. (2012) Violence against Women. In: L.M Healy and R.J Link (eds). Handbook of International Social Work: Human Rights, Development, and the Global Profession. New York: Oxford University Press, 260-263.

Graduation Day!

Last month we celebrated the graduation of 43 boys and girls in our Adolescent Health program with the participation of the British Embassy, who funded the program.

Monday morning each and every one of our 43 adolescent health participants were gathered in San Juan to participate in the official Adolescent Health graduation ceremony. After five months of learning, sharing and interacting, the students were finally ready to receive their certificates, committed to serve as youth leaders in their communities. With a bright and expectant smile on their faces the ceremony began with a trivia based on the program curriculum, and led by the British Ambassador to Guatemala Carolyn Davidson:

“How does a pregnancy occur?”
“A person who feels an emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction for people of the opposite sex is classified as…”
“What does a healthy relationship consist of?” 
“How can we communicate with our partner in an effective way?”

After hours of recapping, playing and laughing, the day ended with a celebratory lunch and speeches by our Executive Director, our Program Manager and the students. From starting out quiet and shy, the students now took the initiative to stand up and publicly thank their Health Promoters, ODIM and the Ambassador, which is amazing in itself.  For our wonderful Health Promoters and Project Coordinator, Betty Perez, this day was the conclusion of all of their efforts throughout the last five months, leading to reflections on challenges and impact. I asked Betty to share some of her insight with us.

“I am very honored to have been able to collaborate with the British Embassy in order to educate the youth of our communities about their bodies and their rights, and I am excited about the impact we have achieved with the forty-three students that just graduated. When we started working with this group of adolescents the participants were really shy and they didn’t want to participate in the sessions. It was a huge challenge for them to express themselves and to answer the questions we asked them. But as time passed their participation increased and they began to ask their own questions. I am very proud that we managed to earn their confidence as well as the confidence of their parents, who started out worrying about their children and being skeptical about what we were teaching them. But in the end they were grateful to ODIM, because we are the only organization in the communities of San Juan and San Pablo that works with youth, and the only people addressing such important themes. – Betty Perez, Adolescent Health Coordinator

The parents’ confidence is essential for the sustainability of the program, so we are happy and satisfied with the outcome, and we thank the British Embassy for making this possible.

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Adolescent Health Fair

More than 200 boys and girls now know how to use a condom

At the beginning of this month we carried out two Adolescent Health Fairs with the participation of over two hundred boys and girls from our communities of San Juan and San Pablo La Laguna. Side by side, Health Promoters and our recent Adolescent Health graduates taught and facilitated discussions about a variation of topics related to adolescent health such as gender equality, self-esteem, rights and prevention methods. The fairs were a great success – the participants were curious and eager to learn and we were proud to see how dedicated our former students were to pass on their knowledge to their peers. All in all, a fantastic and successful day.

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Help and improve the health and rights of our adolescents!

Help and improve the health and rights of our adolescents!

We are so proud of our Adolescent Health Program, and the fact that it was picked up by the British Embassy along with only two other youth programs, worldwide. But our funding from the British Embassy has now come to an end.

We already have the curriculum, space, materials and staff in place to educate and empower 40 more teenagers about sexual and reproductive health, but we can’t do it without further funding.

$7000 pays for the program to take place in our two communities.
$3500 pays for a group of teenagers in one town.

Could you or your business support this program? Please get in touch with us to find out more, or click on the donate button today.

New school year. New scholarship students.


The 2019 school year has begun in Guatemala and so has our scholarship program. This year we welcomed 6 new dedicated and hopeful students to the program.

It is Monday morning on the 7th of January, and new and existing students and their parents are gathered for the opening ceremony at our clinic in San Pablo. Today, the students are introduced to each other and will sign their contracts. Some are quiet and serious and others giggling, but all of them listen carefully while the parents and the older students give advice, and ODIM staff explain about the program.

On the first row sits Jessica – a smiling, kind and determined 12-year old girl  from San Pablo La Laguna.

Jessica just started middle school and is brand new to our scholarship program. Her favorite subject is math because she thinks it is a very useful subject and she learns a lot. Her big dream is to one day become a lawyer so she is determined to continue her studies at high school when she graduates from middle school and to eventually study at  university.

My dream is to one day become a successful lawyer so that I can help people with their problems. I would like to defend those who have problems in my community.

Jessica lives with her mom, her little brother and little sister. Her other brother is married so he does not live at home anymore. Her mom makes and sells tortillas in San Juan, and Jessica helps out at home cleaning and washing plates.

Jessica is a clever girl who loves to study and she works hard to get good grades in school. Until now she has been studying at the public school in San Pablo, but the cost of a uniform and materials mean her family decided that she wouldn’t carry on this year if they didn’t find a scholarship. She is understandably very excited that she is getting the opportunity to continue to learn.

I am happy to be part of the program because I like to study and because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to continue my studies since it is very expensive here.

Jessica is looking forward to get started and learn more about what our scholarship program has to offer.


Our scholarship program targets children from San Pablo Laguna, where 80% of children drop out before sixth grade. Our students are selected based on financial need and academic ambition, and receive a scholarship to cover the costs of their education. However, children are often times not given the guidance or time needed in the home and in the schools in order to truly excel. Therefore, ODIM staffs 3 teachers to provide group tutoring and enrichment classes to each of the 15 children involved.

The scholarship program couldn’t be more relevant in Guatemala, and especially in the rural areas where we work. The quality of education here ranks the lowest in Central America and Guatemala has the second highest illiteracy rate in Latin America after Haiti.

Official statistics show that 86 per cent of children enroll in school. Unfortunately, in many poor communities, school fees for tuition, textbooks, uniforms and supplies easily consume a substantial percentage of a poor family’s income. As a result the majority end schooling after 6th grade, as there is no public funding after this point. Many also leave or never go to school once they start helping with their family work; typically around age 9. Of the 2 million children in Guatemala that do not attend school, the majority are indigenous girls living in rural areas. In fact, indigenous girls attend school, on average, for only three years.

If you would like to give one of our scholarship students a head start in life, sign up as a sponsor here. It costs $80 a month to cover the cost of one student. For more information reach out to Katja at  

A sunshine scholarship story

Meet Estela. Our first scholarship student

Meet Estela. She was one of our very first scholarship students in San Pablo La Laguna. She entered the program when she was 8 years old and has been with us for 10 years now. Estela just graduated as a bilingual and intercultural kindergarten teacher, and now she is working with ODIM as a Healthy Mommy & Me health promoter.

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My mom got really excited when we got the news that I was accepted in the ODIM scholarship program because it was a big opportunity for me to continue my studies. Because here in San Pablo people do not give their children permission to study. Why? Because of the economic factor. Because people do not have the money to pay for school supplies and uniforms. That’s why my mom was really happy to find a solution for me. Thanks to you and the scholarship program I was able to achieve my dream.
— Estela

Estela enjoyed studying and particularly enjoyed her internship because she was able to interact with the children. Today she is part of the ODIM family working as a health promoter in our Healthy Mommy & Me initiative where she continues to work with passion to help the children of her community.

ODIM Scholarships

ODIM scholarships

At ODIM we provide two types of Scholarships. One is for committed students with limited resources from the community of San Pablo. Aside from giving them a scholarship they are also enrolled in our after school tuition sessions, where our promoters help them with their homework and where they have somewhere adequate to study; some houses lack the most basic things that we take for granted such as a table and chair, or electricity. Right now we have 15 students enrolled and six of them are new to the program. The second scholarship opportunity we offer targets our staff so they can continue to grow professionally.

If you would like more information about any of the programs, please reach out to Katja Gryl at

WE DID IT! #GivingTuesday

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A huge HUGE thank you to everyone who donated to our Diabetes Program last month!

Because of your support we met and exceeded our Let’s Walk Together fundraising goal of $16,000, raising a total of $16,543 between #GivingTuesday and New Year. Thanks to your generosity we will now be able to give 250 grandparents in our two communities the health care and support they need and deserve in 2019 including monthly medical checks, blood sugar tests, insulin shots for emergency cases, group exercise, walking sessions, informative talks about living and treating diabetes, healthy cooking classes and community meetups for emotional support.

With your donation you have helped people who have nowhere else to turn. You have given them a chance for a healthier life. You have made a difference!

Monica Graduated


Our receptionist and scholarship teacher Monica has graduated as nursing assistant. But she is not done. Inspired by the work done in ODIM and her community’s needs Monica will continue to work hard until she has graduated as a nurse.

Monica is 30 years old and live in San Pablo La Laguna with her husband. Her mom, and her 9 brothers and sisters also live in San Pablo, but her dad died several years ago. She started working with ODIM in 2009 as a tutor in our scholarship program, and in 2014 she also became our receptionist in the San Pablo clinic.

Initially I decided to work for ODIM and follow this path because of my family. I have a big family. There are 11 of us but none of the others have any knowledge about healthcare. So when someone in my family would get sick or need an injection we had to call someone so they could do it. So I saw this need in my family and in San Pablo and decided that was what I wanted to do. I think it is an important career and that the work we do matters. This way I can help my family and the people from our community.
— Monica

On her 8 year anniversary with ODIM, Monica applied for and received one of our ODIM staff scholarships, and after two years of hard work she graduated as a nursing assistant.

When I started working in the clinic I became curious about health and wanted to know more. That’s why I applied for the scholarship, to pursue a career in nursing and because I wanted to be able to help my colleagues here in the clinic. Thanks to ODIM I’ve now graduated as nursing assistant. My dream is to graduate as a nurse and that one I will day be able to attend patients like ODIM’s senior nurse Rebeca.
— Monica
Staff scholarships are such an important part of what we do. ODIM leaves a positive footprint in our communities, not only through the patients that we serve but also as an important employer in the region. We want to ensure that our employees have the opportunity to grow, to become experts in what they do and to share that knowledge with their colleagues as well as in their community. Through staff scholarships, we are building the capacity of local staff at the same time as improving the services that ODIM offers.
— Executive Director, Amy Holly

In San Pablo 80% of children finish schooling before 6th grade and indigenous girls on average attend school for only three years. We started our scholarship program for children and for our staff to improve the skills of the local population including health services in order to ensure a more sustainable development, and we are happy to see that it is working.

My family was very happy when I decided to study this career because no-one in my family had ever studied at college before. Some of my brothers and sisters started to study but they dropped out around 9th grade because they got married.

I think it is a great opportunity that ODIM gives us to grow in life. Because many of us don’t have the opportunity to continue our studies. The truth is that it is a good feeling when someone decides to help you and ODIM is an organization that cares about the needs of every single one of their employees. Not all NGOs do this. Without ODIM I wouldn’t be in this stage of my life.
— Monica

Congratulations to Monica from the entire ODIM family. Monica is an important part of our team and we are grateful to have her onboard.


We are counting down to November 27th #letswalktogether

We are getting ready for #GivingTuesday and would love for you to join us! 

What's #GivingTuesday? #GivingTuesday is a global giving bash – the biggest giving day of the year and a great way to get involved with the causes you believe in. This year our campaign will be focused on our Let’s Walk Together club – an initiative we started for grandmothers and grandfathers with diabetes. 

Diabetes is a massive problem in Guatemala, especially in the rural indigenous areas. Recent studies suggest that more than 25% of Guatemala’s Indigenous people, who make up 60 percent of the population, suffer from type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, making diabetes an alarming epidemic in rural Guatemala.  

Patients enrolled in our diabetes program receive monthly health consultations and in our Let’s Walk Together club we meet the many challenges of inciting lifestyle change and breaking down social stigmas with lessons on the disease in a supportive environment with healthy snacks, and group exercise.  

We'll be very grateful for any contribution you can give (every dollar counts!) and would really love it if you could share our campaign with your friends and family.

Our goal is to raise at least $16,000, which covers the costs of our program for 2019, making it possible for us to keep people with diabetes a change for a healthier life.

This Giving Tuesday, the first $8,000 we receive will be matched 1:1 with funds that friends of ODIM have pledged for this very day, so you and your friends have a big chance to make double the impact in communities that need your help!

Join us and show your support for ODIM on #GivingTuesday!