Environmental health concerns
are a growing problem in rural Guatemala. Did you know that:
- Garbage, litter
and human waste are part of what causes disease and death in rural Mayan
- Impure water
for drinking and cooking and lack of water in homes for bathing and
washing make it much more likely for families to be chronically ill
- The majority of
families have no bathrooms, no kitchen or washing facilities. Front and
backyards are used as open toileting areas.
- Bathing happens
sporadically, at the local community laundry sink while fully clothed, or with
cold water in the dark so no one sees their nakedness.
- Cooking happens
over open fire pits inside the family home, which is a shack either
made of corn stalks, tin or concrete block. The average Mayan family
burns 2 trees per month just to make tortillas and cook their food.
Black soot coats the walls and ceiling of the house, and the nasal passages
and lungs of the people that are near the fire while it is burning.
Babies die of lung problems, and women die of emphysema after 40 years
of making tortillas over an open fire.
- Children as young
as 6 years old, and pregnant women are seen walking into their fields
with tanks of pesticides on their backs. To produce more corn or produce
for sale, heavy fumigation takes place several times each growing season.
The poison leeches into the ground, and is absorbed by the barefeet
of men, women and children.
- Lack of garbage
facilities, and the introduction of modern packaged food in plastic wrappers
have made most Mayan villages open trash dumps. Littering is a way of
life for many people.
- Six months of
every year, it rains each day in Guatemala. When the rain falls, all
the sewage, garbage and pesticides from the land above, pours down in
the form of rain runoff to the villagers below.
What has Mano con Mano done to help with these problems?
- In 2006, through
generous donations from the US, the entire water supply line in San
Jose de Yalu was changed for new, better PVC pipe. Spring water now
flows unhindered down the mountain in closed piping to 4 village pilas,
or watering arreas.
- In 2007, a large
project coordinated by Grace Community Covenant Church drastically improved
the rain runoff through a ravine by constructing a concrete walled drainage
area that allows water to flow without erosion of the surrounding land.
- In 2006, MCM began
constructing individual bathrooms for families that include flush toilets,
showering area and water holding tanks. The goal is to have completed
100 bathrooms by the end of 2012.
- In 2007, MCM began
building energy efficient stoves with chimneys to remove the smoke from
homes, cut the wood use and deforestation by 75% and prevent burn injuries
- Health and Hygiene
classes to Nutrition center participants discuss garbage disposal, personal
hygiene and care for the environment. Like all programs that are based
on education, behavioral change is slow.
What can you do?
- Share your great
ideas for improving Environmental Heathl
- Support MCM's programs
with your donations, or a team from your church to come build bathrooms
or teach safer farming practices like composting.
If you would like
more information about this ministry visit Contact
If you would
like to sponsor the building of a bed, bathroom or stove installation
please visit the Community
Heath page to see the costs and to learn more about this ministry
or Visit Make a Donation.
2007 - Mano con Mano Health Reach - All rights reserved
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