Yesterday was a jam-packed day with Wuqu’ Kawoq. We left Tecpan at eight in the morning, on our way to Chutinamit, our first community visit of the day.
Upon arriving in Chutinamit, we were immediately greeted with loud music, little kids in costumes, and plenty of smiling faces. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the children were from a local school who were putting on a dance for Carnaval.
Carnaval is celebrated in many countries, preceding Ash Wednesday and Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Latin America, one of the biggest events of the year. In Guatemala, it is celebrated with bright and colorful costumes and masks, and painted cascarones (eggshells) with confetti. Kids sneak up on one another and crack the cascarones on each other’s heads, sending a stream of confetti (and sometimes, yolk!) through the victim’s hair and clothes.
I didn’t know much about Carnaval beforehand, so when I turned to the Guatemalan woman standing next to me and asked her what the tradition symbolized, she simply stated, “It is a day for the kids to be happy.” A beautiful sentiment, and certainly one that Wuqu’ Kawoq is striving towards.
Meanwhile, a couple of feet away from the Carnaval festivities, Yoli and German were busy weighing and measuring children inside one of the houses. After taking the measurements, Yoli spoke with the mothers about healthy eating for their children, such as incorporating more fruits and vegetables in their diet. This part is especially critical, since education is a lacking component within the communities we work.
So far, the children we have seen have been doing fairly well. At the second home in Nuevo Progreso, German informs me that this particular child has not been growing as expected. Because of this, Yoli has begun giving education classes with the mother to explain what types of beneficial changes can be made in the child’s diet and lifestyle. As stated before, education is a crucial part in informing the mothers about proper nutrition, while also giving the mothers a sense of autonomy in improving her child’s health.
Our final destination was Chichimuch, where we met with a beautiful baby girl who has been doing very well with her growth. After taking her measurements, we were dismayed to find out that her growth worsened slightly. Yoli and German sat down with the mother to find out the cause, whether her child had been sick or had not been eating as much as usual. Though there was nothing unusual in the child’s health or eating habits, Yoli gave suggestions on different ways to prepare fruits, for example mixing mangos into a smoothie, so that the growing baby could eat more.
It was a long day, but a typical one for Wuqu’ Kawoq workers. The fight towards improving child malnutrition is a slow and arduous one, and each improvement in a child’s growth is significant. Each improvement means a step further in providing a healthier and more successful future, a future where every day is a day for the kids to be happy.