You Can Lead the Change
$102,435.00 out of our $106,824.00 GOAL
It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than two years since we first traveled to Guatemala to dedicate the land for the Solly Ochoch. Since that time in Sepalau there has been a global pandemic, strict travel bans, food shortages, and two very destructive hurricanes.
Honestly, we all felt pretty discouraged in 2020 when it looked like the life-giving plans we’d created with the Humble Village and the people of Sepalau would be put on hold. Yet, somehow the spirit of the workers and villagers has allowed them to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. I’m humbled by the amount of light that has shone there in some of the darkest of times.
The workers have delivered countless bags of food to quarantined families unable to work or leave their homes. They’ve also sought to identify children in the most dire physical conditions, enrolling those most afflicted in their nutrition program.
A massive garden with vegetables of every kind was also planted early in 2020 and the harvests have been beautiful. A backyard garden might not seem earth-shattering, but when we visited the village in 2019, there was not one home we entered that had anything other than corn and sometimes a bag of rice. To have cabbage and potatoes and beets and other nutrient-rich produce available to eat and plants to start their own gardens is truly life-changing.
Solly Baby Mother's Center at dawn. Look at all those vegetables!
A kitchen was constructed on-site for cooking classes—and even the men are learning, so they can better support the mothers and women in the community, which is especially exciting to see.
Health and nutrition classes are also taught on-site, which have proven to be instrumental in helping improve hygiene, create safer homes, and achieve better health.
The on-site nurse assesses the needs of the mothers and babies there, offering life-saving care, especially to those who are malnourished, a rampant problem in the Sepalau area.
Margarita had hepatitis when pregnant and an underweight child. Thanks to nurse Luvia's visits, she was able to have a much-needed pap test.
Because of your generous donations, we were able to pay for 100(!) roofs to be replaced from the hurricanes last year. Some homes were even rebuilt entirely.
Damage from Hurricane Eta. November 2020.
Rebuilt roof after hurricane damage.
Men carrying the metal laminas to rebuild roofs after the hurricanes.
Newly constructed roof.
On a more personal note, we have to give an update on baby Gerson, who was severely malnourished as a newborn when we met him there in 2019. Quite by accident, I noticed that he had a tongue tie when I was holding him. Gerson’s mother was able to feed him from a dropper until he was able to get the tongue tie operated on. Every photo update we have received of him has felt nothing short of miraculous.
Discovering Gerson's tongue tie in November 2019.
Gerson (right) and his twin brother Jeremias (left) in November 2019.
Gerson (right) and his twin brother Jeremias (left) now.
Thank you, thank you for your continued donations, thoughts, prayers, and care for this project. I have always believed that it would be mothers who would play a lead role in alleviating the suffering of mothers and babies around the world. I know that this is only one mother’s center and Sepalau is a small village and that there is so much more work to do, but just as we do the small things for our babies every day and trust that those small things will help them become great people, I trust that the seemingly small things that this beautiful community does will culminate into great things.
Our 2021 goal is to raise the needed funds of $29,812 to operate the Solly Baby Mothers Center or "Ochoch" this year. 100% of funds donated by Solly Baby will go directly to these projects and local Guatemalan staff who are on the ground working day to day. The Humble Village takes no overhead or administrative costs, as they are all volunteering their time and resources to ensure the donations make the greatest impact possible.
P.S. Please read below for further details regarding the Ochoch and click to donate here or at checkout.
Solly Baby Mothers Center
AN "OCHOCH" IN THE COMMUNITY OF SEPALAU
"OCHOCH" means “home” in Q'eqchi, the indigenous language spoken by the families we serve. The Solly Baby Mothers Center or “Ochoch” is a rural multi-use learning center and community resource for mothers and children. It is a refuge for mothers to receive training and education with the goal of providing vital resources to help pull themselves and their families out of extreme poverty. It is a refuge where children suffering from severe malnutrition are helped to recuperate and stay healthy. It is a refuge for pregnant women to be supported throughout their pregnancy, birth and beyond. And it is an important part of the rural community to serve families in need. For every training session attended, families also receive ongoing home visits by one of our outreach workers to continually monitor their progress.
- Families with severely malnourished children are brought into a holistic program of health training and education while the children are recuperated to a healthy weight.
- Women participate in education classes that address all the factors that contribute to malnutrition, including poor hygiene in the home, childcare, nutrition, family planning, and much more.
- Instruction is given partly in a model home, where families see how to improve their health and safety with small practical measures.
- Families receive training in food production, showing them how to grow nutritious new crops to introduce to their diet. They are also taught how to grow extra crops that can be sold at the market as a source of income.
- Women and men are trained in the rearing of hens and egg production. They are taught to promote a steady intake of protein for their families, and then sell extra eggs at the market to create income.
- Starter kits for food production (e.g., family gardens and chicken coops) are provided.
- A typical day at the Mothers Center sees a group of 10-12 mothers and their children spending the morning receiving training and interactive education. At midday they go to the kitchen garden to pick organic vegetables to prepare for lunch, learning a new recipe each month. Before leaving, children are weighed, their progress discussed with the Health Coordinator, and a month's supply of the food supplement called Incaparina (or milk formula for mothers who can’t produce milk) is provided.
- Partnerships with other institutions allow significant health issues to be treated before they become serious or even fatal, whereas there would typically be no hope to do so.
- Each family—no matter how remote—is regularly visited to review progress.
There are 14 communities in and around the targeted area of Sepalau. These communities sit high in the beautiful highlands and are difficult to reach, making it geographically isolated and extremely marginalized.
Before building the Ochoch, the Sepalau area had nearly half of the deaths reported in the communities that we serve.
- The area is remote. Sepalau village is 2-3 hours from Senahu, depending on road conditions. The surrounding communities extend to more than 4 hours from Senahu.
- When a mother or child is suffering, they typically do not have the resources to travel to the Health and Nutrition Center in Senahu, exacerbating already difficult situations.
- The relatively high altitude gives only one crop of corn a year, leading to higher rates of malnutrition. Communities in lower altitudes receive two crops a year.
- There are no coffee farms or other types of farms in the area, and therefore no work.
- Women and children are isolated and marginalized. There is no telephone signal, so when there is an emergency, there are no resources to assist.
- Families’ are isolated and have a mistrust of authorities and what lies outside, which means that many will never leave their community. A malnourished child can be left to die as a result. This unfortunately was exacerbated by complicated circumstances with the worldwide pandemic.
- The culture maintains that women should not leave the home without the husband’s permission. This reduces the chance of a child getting medical attention if the father has left to find seasonal work out of the area, which is often the case. (A lack of phone signal/electricity makes it impossible to get permission.)
- Elevation is 1700 to 2000 m, so it gets very cold. Common colds or the flu can turn easily into pneumonias, and often treatable illness becomes much more complicated or even fatal.
- There are no health or medical facilities in the area. No one is ever seen by a doctor. The most qualified health workers are professional nurses who don’t have the time to make home visits if a mother/child is too sick to walk possibly hours to a health post. For cultural reasons, mothers are not able to leave the home until 40 days after the child’s birth. Thankfully with a full-time nurse on staff at the Solly Baby Mothers Center, there is more medical help available now than ever before.
- Maternal mortality is much higher than average due to the remoteness, lack of communication, and lack of resources to pay for transportation (for example, gas for the empty tank in the ambulance would have saved many mother’s lives, but resources are so scarce they lose their lives over such a simple solution).
- Multiple infant mortalities in a family are not uncommon. Some families have lost up to five children.
- Kwashiorkor Malnutrition, a protein malnutrition that causes swelling, is a common cause of death among children living in the community of Sepalau. Our team has never seen this elsewhere, apart from two isolated cases in a different community. There is general disbelief in the foreign medical community that Kwashiorkor exists in Guatemala (or even Latin America), but the situation is so dire in this area, many children are suffering from it. It is attributed mainly to famine in Africa. There have been several deaths of children from Kwashiorkor Malnutrition in this area.
A few examples of children suffering from Kwashiorkor Malnutrition from Sepalau. It is painful and has horrific side effects. If caught early, it is easily treatable. With the Solly Baby Mothers Center, situations like these can be avoided and Kwashiorkor Malnutrition can be eradicated completely.
- Epidemic of scabies among mothers and children. Scabies is typically very treatable, but when combined with malnutrition and left unattended, as most cases are in this area, it can lead to critical health complications.
1st photo: an infant with scabies transmitted from her mother due to lack of hygienic understanding and treatment options
Other 3 photos: A young girl suffering from malnutrition and scabies. She is on our nutrition program, but we are only able to visit every two months, which isn’t sufficient to keep on top of the scabies. Cases like these greatly benefit from having an Ochoch in the area.
- Women and Children have a refuge and trusted source of support for families. There is a place to turn in cases of emergency. (Humble Village has been in the area for almost a decade and is the only organization currently working there).
- Homes are widely dispersed and it can take hours to reach them walking. An Ochoch gives families more individual contact, training and monitoring time with the organization, as opposed to in a busy day clinic.
- New cases are detected much faster and treated, whereas before they would become too far advanced or fatal.
- Families need to understand the impact of diet on their health. Protein consumption is increased through training and provision of hen starter kits for egg production.
- Cultivation of vegetables and particularly protein/iron-rich legumes is taught and facilitated. Starter kits for family gardens are provided.
- Training in how to use only clean water—and provision of filters where necessary—helps to avoid the intestinal infections that are often fatal. (Waterborne disease outbreaks have killed among the youngest and elderly.)
- Improvement in the measurable indicators (e.g., conditions in the home) that lead to avoidable malnutrition and ill health in individual families
- Reduction in deaths from malnutrition
- Growing number of children recuperated from severe malnutrition
- Decrease in maternal mortality, with the implementation of education and nutritional support for pregnant mothers
- Total number of communities in the targeted area of Sepalau: 14
- Approximate number of families currently served: 240
- Approximate number of people currently served: 1,440