Blog > Well Mother Well Baby Family Aid > Look at us grow! Part II: Filtering out disease from our Well Mother, Well Baby Program

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Look at us grow! Part II: Filtering out disease from our Well Mother, Well Baby Program
FamilyAidIntern

This blog is part of a series on our Well Mother, Well Baby Program, introducing the changes and new challenges of neonatal health. You can read Part I of our series here.

“Running around when we were kids, playing in the dust and then taking a long drink from the tap was completely normal,” joked Wendy. “Who here has drunk tap water?” Wendy raises her own hand in confession, and mothers shift the babies on their laps as hands go up slowly around the room.

Wendy is one of our Well Mother, Well Baby instructors, and her goal at this week’s gathering was to systematically lay out the dangers that untreated water poses here in Guatemala. Wendy also got to announce our next big changes to the program this year:  teaming up with the Family Aid Department to give every mother in the Well Mother, Well Baby Program a new water filter.

 

Photo Credit: Juan Haro

In the highlands of Lake Atitlán, ensuring your children are drinking clean water can be a daily struggle. Buying bottled water, or boiling water on the stove, eats up a family’s resources and strains finances. The statistics related to water access are staggering: 80% of all water sources in Guatemala are contaminated and 70% of all tap water is unsafe. In rural communities like ours, those numbers could climb even higher.

“Contaminated water affects our clients in a huge way. Last year every child in Well Mother, Well Baby suffered from waterborne illnesses that caused diarrhea,” explained Grace White, the Mayan Families Nutrition and Welfare Development Coordinator. “That considerably worsened the growth trajectory and nutritional status of more than half of our babies. We want to confront this dangerous situation head-on.”

For children, contaminated water is especially dangerous. Having diarrhea five times before a child is two years old can stunt growth and development. When children do not have access to clean water, decreased school performance, language learning, motor and cognitive development, and poor reproductive health can become lifetime issues.

Photo Credit: Juan Haro

“Family Aid is transforming the way our programs work together and with our community. They are dedicating their general funds to those who need nutrition and clean water the most,” said Grace.

The Family Aid team, which was able to provide the filters out of their general fund, was at our meeting to carry out water filter demonstrations in Spanish and Kaqchickel. Coupled with Wendy’s discussion on water safety and health, they showed our clients how to set-up, clean and use     their new filters.

“Over 20% of our clients have newborn babies this year, and making sure they have reliable access to clean water is a top priority,” said Anna Aspenson, the Family Aid Program Coordinator.  She noted that last year, Family Aid’s Filter Program secured clean water for over 3,000 people, “and  next year we want to do even more. Working with Well Mother, Well Baby will help us do just that.”

As Wendy winds up her talk, she looks around the room at the moms juggling kids on their laps, eager to inspect their new filters. Finally, everyone files out of the classroom with their water filters in tow, ready to bring home a new and healthy change.

Photo Credit: Juan Haro

Please consider making a donation to the Well Mother Well Baby Program, and supporting our efforts to bring clean water and good nutrition to mothers and babies in rural Guatemala.

Written by: Will Culhane, Family Aid Program Intern



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