MNU alumna works to help Guatemalans displaced by Agatha

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Lawrence, Kansas

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) alumnus is traveling to Guatemala, working through a Kansas City-based nongovernment organization (NGO) to help Guatemalan families displaced by the ravages of Tropical Storm Agatha.

Emily Tummons, a 1999 MNU graduate and University of Kansas (KU) instructor of Kaqchikel, one of about 30 Mayan languages spoken in Central America, and Anne Kraemer Diaz, a KU doctoral student in anthropology, are founding members of Wuqu’ Kawoq [woo-KOO kah-WOHK], an organization formed in 2007 to provide medical services in the native Mayan language of Kaqchikel in Guatemala.

Along with a group of KU students, the two are seeking help for thousands of Guatemalans recently displaced by Tropical Storm Agatha and its ensuing mudslides and flash flooding.

Tummons chairs the Board of Directors for Wuqu’ Kawoq and plans to arrive in Guatemala on Friday, June 4. Kraemer Diaz is the organization’s executive director, and plans to do field research for her dissertation in Guatemala this summer.

Reports they have gathered from fact-finding crews since Agatha landed May 29 indicate food supplies are scarce and roads are so badly damaged by the mudslides and diverted rivers that supplying the villages will be a challenge in the coming days. Potable water is the largest concern as of right now. Many villages are using schools as shelter for the countless displaced persons whose homes have been destroyed.

Kraemer Diaz says that Wuqu’ Kawoq is seeking aid to provide supplies of clean water and food as well as rebuilding efforts in Guatemala’s Highland and Lake regions that have been effected by the devastation.

Since the founding of Wuqu’ Kawoq, Tummons and Kraemer Diaz have encouraged students to do service learning work in development, language, and medicine in Guatemala. This summer five KU students will be in Guatemala to learn Kaqchikel Mayan language and culture.

The organization’s work in the native tongue to provide clean water, encourage language preservation and growth, and support midwifery sets Wuqu’ Kawoq apart from other medically minded NGO’s in the area. Kraemer Diaz says that Wuqu’ Kawoq is seeking aid to provide supplies of clean water and food as well as rebuilding efforts in Guatemala’s Highland and Lake regions that have been affected by the devastation.

Wuqu translates as the number seven in several Mayan languages and Kawoq is a day on the Mayan calendar related to medicine.