Introducing the 2008-2009


Hello! My name is Sarah Messmer and I am an intern with Wuqu’ Kawoq. I recently graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Engineering Physics and am planning to study medicine in the fall of 2009. I first got involved with Wuqu’ Kawoq when I came to Guatemala as an undergraduate during the winter of 2006 to work with Dr. Rohloff. During that trip, I learned a great deal about resource-poor medical work, linguistics, and the injustices suffered by the Mayans. I am very interested in the mission of Wuqu’ Kawoq and the intersection of culture and medicine–particularly the importance of working in the language of the people. After graduating, I decided to come back to Guatemala to continue my work with Wuqu’ Kawoq for one year. Anita Chary and I will be working in Socorro and Chocola on a child malnutrition program, water purification project, and other community health development projects. We are very excited to be back in Guatemala, especially because we will be learning K’ichee’! Beyond my interests in health and languages, I am also interested in sustainable agriculture–therefore, Chocola is a great place for me because of the current community agriculture development projects that are going on. I hope to learn more about these projects during my time in Chocola, particularly their impact on the health and well-being of the community. I am very excited to work with Wuqu’ Kawoq and hope to continue learning from and working with this organization in the future.

Hello! My name is Anita Chary and I recently graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as a chemistry and anthropology major. A few years ago over winter break, I had the chance to volunteer in medical clinics in Guatemala with Dr. Rohloff. Afterwards, I wrote my senior thesis in anthropology about Mayan midwifery and healthcare in the highlands. Both experiences exposed me to the high levels of medical need among Mayans and showed me how important it is to respect culture and language in providing healthcare. For years, I had known that I wanted to participate in a service project before entering graduate school, and volunteering with Wuqu’ Kawoq seems like the perfect fit. I am very excited to be working on the forefront of social justice and advocacy for indigenous rights. Over the next year, Sarah Messmer and I will be learning K’ichee’ and working together on a child malnutrition project in Socorro, Suchitepéquez. We will be writing a blog about our experiences (available at and plan to create short films about indigenous experiences of healthcare. As I am currently applying to medical school, I hope that this internship marks the beginning of my long-term involvement with Wuqu’ Kawoq.