¡Hola desde Guatemala! Johns Hopkins nursing students arrived safe and sound in Guatemala City on Saturday, October 18. Ten accelerated BSN nursing students are using their fall break time to provide service to underserved and indigenous communities in San Martín Jilotepeque and Santa Cruz La Laguna at Lake Atitlán. This trip is part of an ongoing partnership between Guatemala Esperanza, an organization founded by JHU alumnus Ron Noecker, and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Global Nursing.
Students have partnered with Ken and Lois Werner, founders of People for Guatemala and their in-country partner, Amilcar with Hombres y Mujeres en Accion to provide eight families with chapina stoves. According to the World Health Organization, most families in rural Guatemala cook with open flame inside their homes leading to smoke inhalation and burns. 50% of premature death prior to age 5 is due to smoke inhalation injuries and pneumonia. Most women cook more than 100 tortillas per day over an open flame, often with a baby on their back. Open-flame cooking within the home also causes many problems with the eyes and skin. Chapina stoves eliminate smoke from inside the home, reduce fuel expenditure which is economical for the family and beneficial to the environment, and reduces cooking time which allows time for children to go to school and mothers to tend to other tasks.
On Sunday, students attended a presentation presented by Ken and Lois Werner about their organization, People for Guatemala, who work to educate and empower communities to collaborate and sustain change. Each project sponsored by People for Guatemala is initiated, executed, and maintained by the community members (men AND women).
On Monday, students went to work in Amilcar’s factory to prepare for stove installation. Students received shipments, sorted materials, and loaded trucks. They also received a demonstration of stove installation and the work they will be doing in the village.
After a busy day at the factory, students attended a Spanish lesson to prepare them for the community teaching and assessments they will be performing this week. Families’ health status will be assessed prior to stove installation and in six months when the next cohort of JHU students return. Education must be provided regarding the use and maintenance of the stove. Support is also provided via monthly visits by Amilcar’s team.
The day ended with a presentation by Sue Patterson, former United States council general for the country of Guatemala. As a retired diplomat, Ms. Patterson is the founder of WINGS, an organization committed to reproductive health and family planning services and education for the underserved people of Guatemala. She provided students with a tremendous education with her unique perspective and insight regarding the social and healthcare structure of this country.
Please look forward to our upcoming blogs and learning about the incredible work being done in Guatemala. We appreciate your support!
Ronaldo Noecker, BSN, RN, MDiv
Jennifer Milesky, MSN, RN, CCRN
Angie Tsay, Nursing student coordinator extraordinaire
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