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GUA USAID IFRP Humanitarian - Nutrition Training

Nourishing Dreams in Guatemala

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WRITTEN BY Cat Forsgren

In the rural countryside of Guatemala, two unique families once struggled through poverty. Thankfully, the children are now growing and their parents are hopeful for their families’ futures. Let’s take a look at how this transformation was made possible in two Guatemalan communities through support of donors like you.

In Xolcuay, Petrona and her husband Eliseo did their best to care for their 15-month-old daughter, Juanita, but they didn’t have enough money to provide nutritious food. Despite the family’s hard work to provide for their daughter, the lack of proper nutrients limited Juanita’s growth, impacting her height, weight, and cognitive development.

In Bisan, Savina and her husband also didn’t have funds to feed their family nutritious meals, and they didn’t have the information to know what proper child nutrition was. With the lack of knowledge on health and hygiene practices, the women in Savina’s community didn’t know how to feed their children nutrition-rich meals and practice healthy hygiene to prevent diseases. 


Communities in Need of Strength through Education

While Xolcuay and Bisan are separate towns, they share a similar problem. The lack of education and training on best practices for land cultivation, animal husbandry, and hygiene encouraged the cycle of poverty and spread of disease. And for many families in these areas, this was also a harbinger to issues in childhood development.

“Before FH came, everything was very different,” Savina shared. “Hygiene was not practiced and good nutrition was not promoted to children. It was reflected through their weight and height; it was very sad what we experienced here in Bisan”.

Similarly in Xolcuay, 68% of children age 6 months to 5 years had chronic malnutrition. Without the right food, children’s learning abilities were hindered. 

“I felt depressed and frustrated for not being able to give a better life to my family,” Petrona said. “I was disappointed for not having the education to find a job.”


A Turning Point: Home Visits and Transformative Training

Thanks to generous supporters of Multiply Your Donation, FH was able to serve families in the Xolcuay and Bisan communities. With additional help from the Guatemala USAID-funded International Food Relief Partnership (IFRP), both communities embarked on a new chapter of resilience.

FH staff held trainings in the community, teaching mothers how to prepare a variety of healthy recipes with a Harvest Lentil Pro mixture. These packages of dried lentil soup are a USAID/IFRP initiative aimed at providing communities that struggle with food scarcity essential nutrients young children need to be healthy and growing.

Training Improves Lives of Families in Guatemala Community
FH staff teaching Petrona in her home on the preparation of Harvest Lentil Pro, a nutritious mixture of dried lentil soup.

In Petrona’s family, the visits from FH on Harvest Lentil Pro preparation became a lifeline for Juanita as she grew into a healthier child. Community-wide, the visits in Xolcuay resulted in a remarkable 50% improvement in height and weight measurements for children under 5.

“All families have benefited,” Savina said, “But in this community, the programs have especially helped our children. Seeing my children grow up healthily with the ability to function well in their studies makes me happy.”

USAID-IFRP Nutrition Training Dramatically Improves Health of Children Under 5 Savina Velazco Itzep, 36, lives in the community of Aldea Bisan in the region of Ixil of Guatemala with her husband Cesar, 39, and their children, who are 11 and 2. Savina’s family is one of the 90 families in her community with children under 5 (0 to 59 months) and pregnant mothers who have benefited from the program that distributes Harvest Lentil PRO. Learn more about the story by accessing all of the resources in this collection at: Guatemala STORY RESOURCES
Savina serving a meal to her son.

Cultivating Hope for Tomorrow

Thanks to a remarkable family of supporters who believe in FH’s mission, Petrona’s and Savina’s families now have the resilience to support themselves. With access to resources that will help them thrive, they have the ability to choose what is best for their families. Along with the relationship between FH and the Guatemala USAID-funded International Food Relief Partnership (IFRP), communities like Xolcuay and Bisan are building foundations of sustainable growth for generations to come.

Petrona cooking the lentils provided by USAID, offering a nutritious source of food for her children.

Thanks to the generous support from those who join hands with our mission through Multiply Your Donation and the collaboration with government grants, our combined impact nurtures and grows the next generation.


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