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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References

Colom Caballeros, A. (2010) La pobreza es rural, indígena y mujer. El Pais, 22 July. Available from http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2010/07/21/actualidad/1279663204_850215.html [accessed 18 June 2018]. (Spanish).

Country Watch (2015) Guatemala:Country Review. Houston: Country Watch Inc. Available from http://www.countr ywatch.com [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 ODIM SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

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.

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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.

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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 communications.manager@odimguatemala.org.  

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 communications.manager@odimguatemala.org


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

ODIM STAFF SCHOLARSHIPS

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.

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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
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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.


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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! 

Voucher program is off to a great start!

New partner, new program

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This past month we kicked off our new voucher program in collaboration with Centro Maya – a humanitarian and social justice outreach helping disabled persons in San Juan La Laguna.

Twice a month we will provide vouchers for our Healthy Mommy & Me participants, which they can use to purchase healthy food options e.g. beans, vegetables, eggs, oatmeal and Incaparina at the Alma de Colores stores in San Juan and San Pablo. Alma de Colores is run by students with disabilities from Centro Maya’s Social and Labor inclusion workshop. The initiative replaces our previous egg and Incaparina supplements given once a month during our Healthy Mommy & Me initiative and aims to reduce malnutrition amongst the children of our communities.

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 “The voucher program is a fantastic initiative because it provides mothers with more independence to choose from healthy foods that benefit the development of their children, while at the same time supporting young people and adults with disabilities to generate income.” – Melyna Antonia Cholotío Perez, Deputy Manager of Community Health & Education Programs

The program was a success from day one. Our participants arrived from early morning together with their husbands and children. The mood was high as staff, students, participants and families got to socialize and the families expressed their appreciation for getting the opportunity to choose their foods themselves.

Alma de Colores is a social and labor inclusion workshop for people with disabilities, located at San Juan La Laguna. The workshop consists of more than 26 members, aged 16 to 44, who work and engage in the following areas: crafts making, sewing, bakery, their biological garden, and restaurant. The project is part of “Centro Maya Servicio Integral”.

At ODIM we believe in the inclusion of people with disabilities as active participants in the local economy. Thus we are very exited about the opportunity to collaborate with Centro Maya and the fantastic people of Alma de Colores, and together ensure sustainable change in our communities.

Amy’s US Fundraising tour.

At the beginning of October Executive Director Amy returned from her fundraising tour to the US. During her two weeks she was happy to meet many new and old friends from our extended community of First United Methodist Church Denton, Northaven United Methodist Church, Wamego First United Methodist Church, Emporia First United Methodist Church, Shawnee Heights United Methodist Church, University Park United Methodist Church, Argyle United Methodist Church and Rotary Club of Emporia.

Because of you we managed to raise $16.303 and thus reached our goal of $15.000 in donations. So on behalf of Amy and all of us here at ODIM, THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our work and our communities.

“I had a fantastic trip to the States. It was really great to meet people who support our work.  Some people have supported ODIM for many years, while others has just got to know us, but it was great to feel that we have so much support in the different States I visited. I would like to say huge thank you to everyone that put on events, that welcomed me into their homes, and that came to tell me why they are interested in helping us. And a big thank you to everyone who donated and helped us reach our goal” – Executive Director, Amy Holly

Thanks to your generosity we can now enroll 25 pregnant women in our Healthy Mommy & Me initiative, providing each of them with; one Safe Birth Kit, one Newborn Baby Starter Kit, food provisions for two years, prenatal and post birth consultations (including the vitamins and tests they need), and we can pay the salary of one Healthy Mommy & Me health promoter for the entire duration of the program (2 years). In addition to this, the $7800 donation from Wamego First United Methodist Church will cover our nurse Rebeca’s salary for one year as well as our IT needs.

We're so grateful to the members of our extended community, old and new, who stepped up to help!

If you would like to give our communities a helping hand but just didn't get around to it, we are still short of sponsors and Business Ambassadors.

To sign up as a sponsor click here https://odimguatemala.networkforgood.com/. If you wish to become a ODIM Business Ambassador reach out to Communications and Fundraising Manager Katja Gryl (communications.manager@odimguatemala.org) or Executive Director Amy Holly (executive.director@odimguatemala.org).

Thanks again everyone!

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MEET OUR NEW TEAM MEMBER: WELCOME KATJA!

This month we welcomed our new communications and fundraising manager, Katja Gryl. Katja is from Denmark and joins ODIM with several years of communication, marketing and project management experience at nonprofit organizations in Denmark, Bolivia and Guatemala.  

“I am very exited about joining this small but powerful organization. I am a firm believer of community driven development; development work needs to respond to local needs, and local staff should not just be implementers, but rather development actors and decision-makers. ODIM is a very socially responsible and people-centric organization, and that is what inspired me to join this passionate and highly skilled team. I am very eager to meet donors and to tell the stories of present and future participants in our programs.”

 Katja has particular experience in digital communication and is passionate about social media and its efficiency in spreading awareness of and engaging people in social issues. As such she will be working to develop ODIM’s digital presence as well as to secure and sustain existing and future fundraising streams. 

“Drawing on my experience, my aim for ODIM is to establish a more visible, visual and credible online presence in order to get our messages across to a wider audience. What’s more, our donors are the backbone of our organization. So I will be continuing to strengthen our connections to achieve our mission and I aim to give all of our supporters a positive and rewarding experience with ODIM.”

On a personal basis Katja is married to Andrés who is born and raised in Guatemala and together they have two sons aged 2 and 5.

 We welcome Katja to the team!

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HEALTHY MOMMY AND ME GRADUATION

Meet Rosa Maria and Eymi

Last week we celebrated the graduation of 16 mothers and their babies participating in the Healthy Mommy & Me initiative. One of them was 21-year old Rosa Maria and her 2-year old girl Eymi. Rosa Maria is a single mom and has been participating in Healthy Mommy & Me since she was 4 months pregnant.

Rosa Maria and Eymi at the Healthy Mommy & Me graduation

Rosa Maria and Eymi at the Healthy Mommy & Me graduation

It has been very important for me to participate in this because we go through many subjects that I didn’t know anything about. I have leaned how to care for a baby, how to practice good hygiene and about the babies development during their first year. But most of all I have leaned to participate. When I was young I didn’t like to speak, but in the clinic I lost my fear of speaking because of the mutual trust we had in the group. So I think it is very important to share experiences with other women in the same situation and who are not all from the same village.
— Rosa Maria

Together with the other 16 participants of Mommy and Me initiative Rosa Maria has now completed 1,000 days of nutrition, health education and family planning support. For their graduation the mothers and babies were greeted with music and balanced meals. They played holistic games for mommy-baby bonding and shared quality time with their peers. 

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We wish Rosa Maria and Eymi and all the other mommies and babies all the best!

Fall 2017 Newsletter

We are proud to present our Fall 2017 Newsletter. As some of you know, our current Executive Director, Jeff Hassel, is preparing to leave Guatemala and go on to new adventures. In this edition, Jeff shares some of the achievements he is most proud of as ODIM's Departing Executive Director. You will also meet Amy Holly, a courageous woman who will be the next to lead our organization, and learn about the journey that brought her to our community.

Enjoy reading our news!

ODIM Community Gatherings in Colorado, Kansas, and Texas

Meet International Programs Manager Yaneth Cholotio in the U.S.A.!

Meet International Programs Manager Yaneth Cholotio in the U.S.A.!

At least once a year our Executive Director Jeff Hassel visits the U.S. to connect with church congregations who have supported us financially and through service trips to Guatemala. This year, we are excited to be changing up the normal routine by sending someone new—Yaneth Cholotio, our Manager of International Programs. We are always looking for opportunities to promote the professional and personal growth of the local leaders on our team—and Yaneth is one to take advantage of every growth opportunity she discovers in her life. Both she and the rest of the team are enthusiastic that she will be sharing her personal story of growing up in San Juan, and promoting ODIM's mission and work.

All of our volunteer teams from the last few years know Yaneth as the kind, astute, and smiley woman who has patiently and supportively guided them through their service experience and helped them connect with our communities and learn about their culture. But our friends who have never been to Guatemala haven’t yet met Yaneth—in fact, this will be her first time ever traveling outside of Guatemala! Yaneth is excited—and we are excited for her! Always the volunteer coordinator, now it’s her turn to explore a foreign culture, learn new perspectives, share her story, and be a champion of ODIM’s impact on lives.

“I’m excited for this coming experience to have the opportunity to experience other cultures and meet new people. I look forward to sharing the good work that ODIM does, and to encouraging the people I meet to join us in improving the lives of people in San Juan and San Pablo La Laguna.” — Yaneth

Yaneth’s Agenda of Visits

Friends in Colorado, Kansas, and Texas are invited to share in any of the events they are able to attend. Come meet Yaneth, learn how you can help support the education and medical programs in San Juan and San Pablo La Laguna.  A love offering in support of ODIM’s work will be taken up at each.

Event in Breckenridge, Colorado

Sunday, Sep. 3 Father Dyer UMC 7:00 PM
Yaneth will speak briefly in regular Sunday morning services. In the evening, there will be an educational event regarding life in Guatemala. The documentary "Living on a Dollar" will be shown, followed by a learning session with Yaneth. 

Events in Kansas

Tuesday, Sept 5: Eudora UMC  7:00 PM
Wednesday, Sept 6: Topeka FUMC 7:00 PM
Sunday, Sept. 10: Wamego FUMC Sunday morning services 8:30 & 11:00 AM
Sunday, Sept. 10: Emporia FUMC 6:30 PM

Events in Texas

Tuesday, Sept. 12: University Park UMC, Dinner Event 6:30 PM
The evening will feature a silent auction with contributions from Northaven artists as well as a delicious Mexican food meal provided by women from Christ's Foundry UMC. RSVP Here
Thursday, Sept. 14: FUMC Denton (In Miller Center), Dinner Event 6:00 PM
Yaneth will share her story, and dinner will be catered by El Chaparral Grille in Denton.  
Sunday, Sept. 17: Argyle UMC Sunday morning services

For more information about any of the above events, email Yaneth at volunteer.coordinator@odimguatemala.org

Mother's Day: A Beautiful Story of Hope

Written by Amy Porter

Josefa is a 30-year old indigenous Maya woman from the town of San Pablo, on the shores of Lake Atitlán. The youngest of six children, she grew up in a big family, with aunts, uncles and cousins nearby.

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As a young girl, Josefa dreamed of getting married, having a house and children.  In 2007, she married her husband, Domingo. They moved in together with plans to begin the family they had always dreamed of. But while her friends, brothers and sisters began having babies, it didn’t happen for Josefa.

“After we married, we wanted a baby. After a year, nothing had happened.  Another year, still nothing... When I saw my brothers and nieces having their children, I didn’t feel good… I felt so anxious... was I going to be a mother, or not? I felt lonely, and desperate.”

Josefa and Domingo began to save their meagre salaries to see a specialist. With Domingo’s job as a labourer, earning $5 a day, and Josefa cleaning houses for even less, it wasn’t long before they simply couldn’t keep up the payments for the expensive private doctor’s visits.

Finally, Josefa heard about ODIM’s clinic in San Pablo, and came for her first consultation.

Dr. Georgina remembers this day. “When I first met Josefa, she was incredibly upset at the idea of never becoming a mother. She complained of pain in her abdomen, so we referred her to a hospital for scans, and we provided low cost treatment including ultrasound scans here at the clinic. We helped Josefa begin a diet and exercise regime, which she and her husband embraced together. We wanted to ensure that Josefa's body was as healthy as possible, ready to carry a baby."

Months later at a follow-up appointment, Dr. Georgina gave Josefa some incredible news – after ten years of hoping, praying and dreaming of this day, Josefa had finally fallen pregnant! Josefa was delighted! But now, she and her baby really need our support. 

"Thanks to God, and to this clinic, for my improved health and this pregnancy… I’m so grateful, because it’s been a miracle for us. I found hope here!" - Josefa

Childhood malnutrition in Guatemala

Guatemala has one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world, at 49%. In the majority indigenous region of Sololá, where San Pablo is located, the rate is estimated to be much higher, at 72%. Widespread poverty and lack of access to education contribute greatly to this trend.

When a baby is deprived of vital nutrients during its first 1000 days of development - from conception to its second birthday - the consequences are often severe. Malnutrition inhibits healthy brain development, resulting in cognitive impairment. The effects are also physical - 50% of Guatemalan children under the age of 5 suffer stunted growth as a result of malnutrition. The consequences of childhood malnutrition are also far-reaching. Low levels of educational attainment commonly lead to difficulties accessing skilled employment and drastic losses in earning potential.  Individuals who suffer malnutrition as infants are more susceptible to chronic illnesses, which can diminish quality of life.

Healthy Mommy & Me: a holistic approach

Josefa is enrolled in our Healthy Mommy & Me initiative, which focuses on these vital first 1000 days of life. By combining dedicated healthcare with practical support – health check-ups, nutrition workshops, cooking classes and a mother's support group - ODIM aims to give women all the support they need to raise healthy, happy babies. All the women also receive support with birth planning and a safe birthing kit which helps safeguard women from the risk of childbirth-related complications, including maternal death. This is particularly vital, because San Pablo is located 90 minutes from the nearest hospital, by local tuk-tuk, boat and bus.

When ODIM's first group of Healthy Mommy & Me participants graduated in 2017, after over two years in the program, 71% of the babies achieved normal, healthy growth rates. This is proof of the profound difference that our program has already made for women like Josefa, and their babies!

Our Healthy Mommy & Me staff have encouraged Josefa at her monthly check-ups, dispelling her worries, and provided prenatal vitamins and fortified food supplies. She is looking forward to joining our new mom's support group once her baby is born, and has high hopes for his or her future:

"I wish many things for my baby… One day, I’d love my son or daughter to be a nurse, or a doctor, if God wills."

How can I help?

We can’t help people like Josefa without supporters like you!

Thanks to you, we can offer medical consultation and treatment at highly subsidized rates, making healthcare accessible to those who suffer most from the poverty which grips these remote communities. 

Become one of ODIM’s first ever Health Allies with a monthly donation to support our work.  We’ll keep you updated about the exciting work your money is supporting!

 

 

“I’m so grateful for the clinic, and all the people who send funds and medicines. I hope they’ll continue to do that, because our resources are so scarce. This clinic really helps us.” - Josefa

Josefa would love to hear from you.  You can send her a personal message of support by emailing us at odimguatemala@gmail.com, with “Message for Josefa” in the subject line. 

Photo credits: Anna Watts

A New home, a Better Life

Catarina and Nicolas are a couple from San Pablo, la Laguna who have been married for ten years. They have two kids, Paulina and Pablo. Nicolas works as an agricultural worker in the nearby fields and is paid a day rate when there is work to be found. When we met them, the family was living in a small room with a leaking roof. During rainy season, the kids told us they would have to bail buckets of water from the house to keep it dry. Nicolas' asthma would flare up, exacerbated by the damp, cold air in the house. Sometimes his asthma attacks would become so bad he couldn’t work, and was unable to provide for his family. When we learned about the family's situation, we decided to improve their home by building another room for them and fixing the one they already had.

"After"

"After"

"Before"

"Before"

Last November a team from Living Water United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa started to work on the home. In January, a team from Wamego United Methodist Church in Wamego, Kansas finished it.

The family is so happy to be in their new home. The kids told us, "It can rain as hard as it wants, we are not worried about it anymore!"

A huge thank you to our friends at Living Water UMC and Wamego UMC for helping to improve the lives of Nicolas, Catarina, Pablo and Paulina!

Diabetes Walk Together

Isabela, a diabetic participant in Caminemos Juntos, had a stroke in February that left her with facial paralysis. We were so sad when she didn’t show up to the classes because she has been very participative in the program. With the other club participants we decided to visit her at her house. She was overjoyed to see us and she told her daughter that they had to give a healthy snack to her friends from Caminemos Juntos. Her excitement inspired us to do a class at her house on March 18th. It was a joyful event for everybody involved, especially for her. We have been visiting Isabela and checking her blood sugar levels. She is improving and recovering her ability to speak. We are planning to host another Caminemos Juntos meeting at her home very soon.

At ODIM we believe that the support our programs provide reaches far beyond the information and medical services we provide participants. In our diabetes club, Caminemos Juntos, we also provide a space for individuals confronting a common health challenge to support one another. Isabela’s story provides us with a small reminder of how social solidarity can help aid recovery and promote overall health.