“You know how it is with them,” he said. “Especially the younger ones. When they are hungry, they need to eat. With us, we wait.”
Back in May, we heard from Armando about the impact the pandemic was having on his family and his community. Due to the lockdown imposed by the government to limit the spread of COVID-19, many Guatemalans were unable to work and therefore unable to afford basic necessities.
Armando is one of our many dedicated Guatemalan volunteers who brings people in need of medical care to Faith In Practice for treatment by one of our village medical clinic teams or surgical teams. Armando reached out to Julissa, our Referrals Coordinator, to ask Faith In Practice for help.
We never abandon our patients or our volunteers, so we quickly responded by gathering pounds of rice, beans, milk, coffee, sugar, and oil, as well as hand sanitizer and masks. Our staff assembled packages in our warehouse while wearing masks and maintaining social distance guidelines. After receiving permission from the government to travel, they delivered more than 60 packages to our Guatemalan volunteer leaders across the country.
Armando with his family and their care package
Expanding and Growing
We knew the struggles would continue and that this one package wouldn’t be enough. We devised a plan to distribute care packages every month going forward. Our mission has always been about providing healthcare to those most in need and showing them God’s love. Our desire is to do just that through these packages – provide for their basic needs, but to also remind them that they have a community of people who love and support them.
We have continued to send out necessary food and health-related supplies (soap, toothpaste, masks, hand sanitizer) and have also expanded our packages to include important public health information that focuses on a different theme each month.
Public health bulletins
Travel restrictions and a curfew were still in place in Guatemala in June because of the pandemic. We decided to provide our volunteers with essential information about COVID-19 in this month’s packages so that we could work together to limit the spread of the virus. The educational bulletins explained how COVID spreads and how to prevent the spread by wearing masks, sanitizing, and following social distancing guidelines. It also provided information about the risks of contracting the disease and how to recognize the symptoms.
July: Mental Health & Immune System
In July, we wanted to provide encouragement to our volunteers and promote both physical and mental health. We shared information about how to maintain a strong immune system, especially through good nutrition and exercise. We emphasized the importance of sleep and exercise for mental health and provided information on recognizing and addressing mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
August: Diabetes and Chronic Illness
We treat many patients with diabetes and other chronic problems like high blood pressure. In August, we provided our leaders and their communities with information about recognizing and managing these conditions. We provided tips for maintaining good blood sugar levels and explained how good nutrition and exercise help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
September: WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hydration)
September’s packages provided information about the importance of water and how it affects the human body, how to maintain good hydration, and proper methods for purifying water. We wanted to educate people on the dangers of bacteria and parasites that can be present in water and how to access safe drinking water in order to avoid these health problems.
October: Women’s Health
In October, packages included prenatal vitamins and information about the female reproductive system, hormonal changes, how to detect breast and cervical cancer, and about domestic violence awareness. We also sent out feminine hygiene kits from the Days for Girls organization and provided virtual trainings to our Guatemalan volunteers so they can educate the girls in their community about their menstrual cycle and how to use their kits.
(In mid-November we will be holding a special Days for Girls education and hygiene kit distribution event at Xela Aid in Quetzaltenango. Check back on the blog for updates about that event!)
Sharing and Continuing the Mission
Our leaders have always shown dedication and compassion for the people in their community. This time was no different. They began sharing the food and supplies from the care packages with their neighbors, increasing the impact to almost 500 people each month!
Faith In Practice will continue to send out these packages in the coming months and in the new year, we will focus on community service and leadership development for our Guatemalan volunteer leaders.