A woman plants new seedlings as part of an UMCOR integrated project with Asociación BPD that focuses on nutrition, sustainable agriculture, proper sanitation and hygiene practices, and community empowerment in the Mayan village of Xepanil in Guatemala.
A look at an UMCOR integrated development project in Guatemala
October 20, 2015—The ability to live healthy, high-quality lives is linked to the availability of, and access to, basic resources. All people need clean water, nutritious food, health care, sanitation facilities, and some form of income, and these basics require attention and investment as a whole.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) constantly seeks to work with partner organizations that have this integrated or holistic approach in mind and that are committed to learning and adjusting their methods in the communities where they work to do this better.
Integration is about more than just doing projects properly. This kind of approach recognizes that our lives are interconnected. It shows us that the way to help others is to listen to them tell us how things fit together for them and to support them as whole persons, whole families, and whole communities.
UMCOR is working with partners who are seeking to integrate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programming, as well as agriculture and food security programming, to help people lead healthier lives.
Asociación BPD, a community-based organization in Guatemala, is one of these partners. Since 2014, UMCOR has been working with Asociación BPD in an integrated project to reduce chronic childhood malnutrition. The project focuses on nutrition, sustainable agriculture, healthy sanitation and hygiene practices, and community empowerment in the Mayan village of Xepanil.
Empowerment and progress
Juana Aceituj, 34, is a village health promoter and one of the participants in the project. She is married, and her first language, like that of her neighbors, is Mayan-Kaqchikel.
“Xepanil has always needed basic services, but we are seeing important progress thanks to the projects brought by Asociación BPD and UMCOR,” Aceituj said. “All the families now have latrines and water filters. Some have stoves and goats, and all the families who are interested now have access to vegetable seeds, fruit trees, and training in different aspects of nutrition, hygiene, and women and youth participation.”
In addition, she said, “The projects completed in the community have reduced contamination. There are no feces all around as before, no smoke in the kitchens, and we use half as much firewood for cooking as we used to do. We also now know how to grow the vegetable seeds with no need of chemicals.”
Aceituj said she is most interested in how the component parts of the project are interconnected. She said this has had the effect of encouraging, increasing, and challenging the knowledge, attitudes, and participation of the families who take part.
Women, in particular, have felt encouraged. “We trust the Asociación BPD staff because they speak our language, and we understand their explanations. We have learned about our rights, about equality between women and men, and about proper nutrition to end the chronic malnutrition in the village,” she said.
“Now women, youth, and men have the opportunity to participate and improve our skills in agriculture, nutrition, community empowerment, water and sanitation. This will allow us to make improvements in our homes and families and in our community,” Aceituj said. “On behalf of the community, I would like to say thank you.”
Your gift to UMCOR Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Advance #3020600, helps improve access to clean water and sanitation to communities in need, and supports integrated development projects like this one.
UMC #GivingTuesday is Dec. 1
On Dec. 1, United Methodists will once again come together to support the work of Advance projects and missionaries on UMC #GivingTuesday. And once again, every gift made online through The Advance at www.umcmission.org/give on Dec. 1, 2015 will be matched up to $1 milion.* The missionary who receives the highest amount of online donations on UMC #GivingTuesday will be able to direct $10,000 to an Advance project of his/her choice!
*Global Ministries will allocate matching funds dollar for dollar up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online on Dec. 1, 2015, between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. CT. A maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. A project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.
This story was written with input from Mike Barbee, technical officer for UMCOR WASH, and from UMCOR’s partner, Asociación BPD, in Guatemala.