All of us at The Garden’s Edge and the Qachuu Aloom “Mother Earth” Association would like to thank the Emily Sandall Foundation for their partnership in helping us develop and improve our education and maternal health programs. We see a huge improvement each year in our participants. We also learn each year how to improve our programs through implementing horizontal development approaches that allow members to develop confidence and leadership skills. For example, in our nutrition program the “Mother Guides” are modeled after our “farmer to farmer” program, the idea being that the best teachers are people who live in similar circumstances, speak the same language, and have experienced positive results from the program in their actual lives. When we train the moms who have had success in their own families to be examples for other moms, as opposed to bringing in nutritionists who live a very different reality from the moms they are working with, there is a much better success rate. In addition, this approach allows the mothers to gain needed income, share their stories, and help other mothers in their villages improve their health and the health of their children. We are honored to carry on the memory of Emily through our work, and to be in partnership with your lovely family.
We are so grateful to you and your family and all the beautiful growth you support for the families of The Garden’s Edge.
Qachuu Aloom, (QA) offers scholarships and youth leadership development opportunities to the children of its members, and occasionally to its adult members, giving priority to women who are historically at risk and with far fewer opportunities to pursue and complete their education. This year, we invited three young men into the scholarship program, in recognition that all genders need and deserve the opportunity to work together to achieve true gender equity. We also have a second-year scholar who is on the QA board, a woman who, in her mid 40’s, decided to complete her formal education.
The program, which is rooted in a Maya Achi world view, builds skills, knowledge and attitudes that celebrate traditional knowledge while strengthening cultural identity. Scholarship recipients attend workshops and meetings where they learn to value their culture while building self-esteem and leadership skills. Scholarship students are exposed to new ideas and new career possibilities. The program has a focus on leadership, social entrepreneurialism and agroecology. It prepares youth as engaged citizens, the potential “next generation” of QA leadership.
The scholarship program supports students who are struggling financially to finish high school (Basico), or the Guatemalan equivalent of a pre-college program (Bachillerato) and in some cases, a two-year technical training equivalent to an associate degree. QA
requires scholarships students to volunteer with the QA staff and/or to sit as youth representatives on the QA board. In addition, scholars must maintain a minimum average of 70% in each course, participate in activities in their community, help maintain their family home garden and demonstrate enthusiasm for learning. You will notice that some of the students study on the weekends. This is because they work during the week to help support their families.”
Maternal Health and Nutrition
With the goal of improving the nutritional indicators of 29 children, QA has implemented cooking workshops to teach families how to prepare nutritious foods from their garden vegetables and home visits to families with children who suffer from malnutrition. Amaranth and pigeon pea flour are distributed to pregnant and breastfeeding women or to any child that has fallen into malnutrition. During these visits, QA provides counseling and recommendations to mothers, and often times the whole family is involved.
We have found that one of the reasons children suffer from nutritional problems is because they get sick and lose weight from diarrhea or other illnesses. The most common pathologies are acute respiratory infections and gastrointestinal diseases. For this reason, in addition to health talks, workshops are held on natural treatments such as how to make infusions of various medicinal plants.
In these villages, we are teaching nutrition/cooking workshops and organizing nutrition fairs. At the fairs, we facilitate the exchange of local and nutritious food recipes and talks on healthy consumption. We also use these fairs as an opportunity to take the anthropometric measurements of all the children in attendance, under the age of five.
The workshops highlight nutritious foods with ingredients like amaranth, pigeon pea, green leafy plants and herbs. We practice preparing new recipes such as amaranth tortas (similar to a quiche with an Amaranth seed crust), seasonal fruit jellies, fruit cocktails, salads and medicinal teas.
Activities that have been carried out with the mothers include:
* Home visits
* Meetings with mothers
* Educational talks on health and nutrition
* Workshops for the preparation of nutritious recipes, and medicinal plant infusions
* Counseling and recommendations on health and nutrition
* Nutritional fairs
* Exchanges between mothers and midwives
Observations from home visits
We have noticed that the children of some of our economically poorest members are more susceptible to chronic respiratory infections and gastrointestinal diseases. We are hoping that as families continue to learn more about medicinal plants, and better hygiene, so that these infections will be reduced.
The vast majority of new communities have expressed their appreciation for the nutrition program. They say it’s important for them to learn more about health and nutrition and they value the knowledge they are acquiring as it benefits their entire family. ”
Director and Founder, Garden’s Edge