In Guatemala, the face of poverty and hunger is young, indigenous and rural. Guatemala has the fourth-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world, with rural areas suffering disproportionately. Sadly, in the rural Mayan villages where we work, malnutrition rates range as high as 80%. These alarming statistics evidence themselves in stunted growth, learning disabilities and a lifetime of chronic illness for the country’s rural children.
What’s to be done? Miracles in Action began working in this area in 2012, primarily working in two areas: nutrition education and agriculture support programs.
Guatemala’s main nutrition problem isn’t lack of food as much as the poor quality of its diet. This helps to explain how half of the country’s children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting, while at the same time, half of the adult women are overweight. Corn tortillas and black beans provide calories, but not good nutrition. In most cases, it is a lack of education that causes mothers to feed their families with the same cultural food that they were raised on, or alternately, with packaged “junk” foods that lack essential vitamins and minerals.
Miracles in Action’s goal is to provide a toolbox of resource information on nutrition education so the wealth of information we are developing is available for everyone. We are working to improve nutrition through these efforts:
- hiring a nutritionist to develop educational materials
- promoting “super foods” such as chaya, chia, amaranth, pigeon pea and others with brochures and educational information
- connecting with Guatemalan universities to research local “super foods”
- being recognized for our work with Chaya in a front-page story in the national newspaper, Prenza Libre
- creating educational videos on nutritious foods
- developing a locally-accepted recipe book with photos
- sponsoring extension activities such as a “Green Tortilla” contest (Traditional tortillas enriched with Chaya)
- training other NGOs in “super foods”
- workshops and presentations for teachers and mothers on how to “eat from the earth”
- networking with agriculture and hunger experts at ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization)
From school and community gardens, to permaculture projects, to scaleable experimental agriculture programs, we are working in a variety of areas to promote better and more varied food choices. Working to support and educate farmers to use new methods to create better harvest yields also leads to a better economic position and better food options.
- Supporting agriculture projects for Quality Protein Maize, chia, chaya, moringa, high-vitamin vegetable and fruit trees
- Supplying seeds and cuttings to very rural areas
- Seed harvesting and seed banks
- Experimental projects in no-till, no-burn and permaculture techniques
- Support for community, family and school gardens