Malnutrition Solutions for Guatemala

Pedro Rodriguez, our new in-country project coordinator, shares his recent training experience at ECHO in Florida, and how this supports our efforts to improve nutrition in Guatemala.

More than half of the children in Guatemala suffer from chronic malnutrition, causing the future of this country and the lives of these little people to be threatened. Malnutrition may be due not only to the lack of food but also a poor diversity thereof. The staple diet of low-income people in Guatemala is based on corn tortillas and black beans, both unable to provide a balanced diet by themselves. The damage caused by malnutrition in a child under 5 years is irreversible.

• permanently impaired brain development
• increased morbidity and mortality from infections
• decreased growth.

In the past the country’s indigenous people ate herbs, fruits and vegetables of the season. It was always a major corn-based diet, but corn was never the only or second ingredient. We are learning that many native plants are no longer grown as a food crop anymore. This is the reason why we feel compelled to find solutions, understanding the importance of respecting the process of natural and healthy food from seed to plate.

But how to start? We decided to find a group of enthusiastic people willing to work on agricultural projects focusing on better nutrition for the most affected and especially their children. Miracles in Action invited four people to receive a one-week intensive training on innovative practices and sustainable agriculture for the poorest on the planet, in an institution that demonstrates and promotes these techniques in several countries fighting hunger and poverty.

ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization located on a demonstration farm in North Fort Myers, Florida. ECHO exists for one major reason: to help those working Internationally with the poor to be more effective, especially in the area of agriculture.

I was one of the honored guests, and after this week of training I can say that I am not only inspired but also prepared to work in the planting of suitable plants to improve the diet of the poor. This course allowed us to learn a lot about the importance of soil, economics of farming, techniques such as Zai Holes (planting stations), mulch (ground cover to save water), tree systems, indigenous plants, Moringa, Chaya, among many other things.

Knowing these options for alternative and innovative agriculture, we can present them to low-income people using crops that their ancestors knew and used with reverence, plus combining organic and very innovative techniques and practices appropriate in each case. Approaching people in need, working hand-in-hand, we return now to work together and make a difference for the future of our children.

Thanks to all those donors and people who have supported this initiative, to ECHO for presenting courses like this, and to all the participants and students who, with their acquired knowledge, make a big difference in the lives of many people and our planet.

ECHO - Fighting World Hunger

Miracles participants in ECHO Training: (L-R) Mark Arneson, Juan Pablo Echeverria, Pedro Rodriguez, Shad Qudsi

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