Jay Feeding Center
The Nutrition program is the cornerstone of Mano con Mano's ministry in Guatemala.
In 2005 construction of a building for feeding children with severe malnutrition was begun. Construction in a small sloping field using a crew of sixteen Mayan farmers and city workers raised 14 foot high block walls out of carved dirt. Thus, NIM JAY began. Nim Jay, an acronym for the Spanish words Nutricion Infantil Maternal Jesus Ama (loves) Yalu, is also a translation for the Mayan words "big house." In the village of Yalu, Nim Jay certainly is a "big house." Built almost entirely by donations from caring people in the United States, Nim Jay contains a large dining room, restaurant-style equipped kitchen, sewing room, rest rooms, office, and a large meeting room. In addition outside are a small soccer court (known as "futbol" in Latin America) and playground. Every inch of Nim Jay was built by hand, and the village of Yalu has come to embrace it. Nearly two years after the first asedon (a Mayan digging tool) of dirt was dug, the feeding center was completed. On May 15, 2006 the first meal was served to 125 underweight and hungry Mayan children and expectant mothers. Beginning in August of 2005, the most malnourished families were sustained by donations of rice, beans, milk and protein powder three times each week. Without this early intervention, several children would have died during the construction. Prior to the existence of the Nim Jay, several children died of hunger each year. Many succumbed to common infections simply because their bodies were too weak from hunger to survive a common cold or diarrhea. Since the initiation of the Nim Jay nutrition program, not one child has died of hunger in Yalu.
Finishing touches continued to be completed during 2007 as the number of children being fed Grew to tax Nim Jay's capacity. Today 300+ children and expectant or new mothers receive three nourishing and filling noon-time meals each week. The weight of targeted children has increased and healthier babies are fed. Children are routinely weighed and given medical examinations to monitor their weight, height and medical improvement. Mano con Mano Health Reach employs a three-quarter time Guatemalan physician, Dr. Efrain Teleguario, to perform these assessments. A staff of Mayan women from the village prepare the food according to menus designed to be appetizing as well as nutritious. Maintenance workers keep all areas of the facility clean and in service. Field Directors Brennan and Mariajose Doyle oversee all phases of daily activities, the purchase of food, and facility maintenance. Donations from the United States continue to fund the cost of food, staff salaries, and building upkeep. It is hoped that as time progresses, the nutrition center will receive more support from within Guatemala, and raise funds within Yalu through creative small business ideas.
However, other projects are currently underway at Nim Jay. Community movie nights are held for the people of Yalu. Movies with Christian messages are shown for any in the village who which to attend. An affordable bed is being produced by the Nim Jay maintenance staff so that villagers do not need to sleep on the ground. Individual bathrooms are being constructed to improve community and personal hygiene. Wood-efficient stoves also are being offered through Nim Jay's outreach. An entire replacement of Yalu's water-supply pipes was funded through a Mano con Mano gift. A pre-natal program to assist expectant mothers who are often at risk takes place each month in the Nim Jay building. Other community outreaches are planned for the future. Thus, the Nim Jay feeding center is truly a "big house" for the village of Yalu, Guatemala. It does fulfill its acronym by providing nutrition, infant and maternal (care), in the love of Jesus for (the village) Yalu.
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If you would like to support a child or expectant mother in the feeding center, a tax deductible gift of $25 will support one person for a month of meals. Visit Make a Donation.