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 villages.
  • polluted streamImpure 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 from infections.
  • 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.
  • child workerChildren 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.
  • energy efficient stoveIn 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 in children.
  • 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 Us.

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.

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