We are excited to announce that in February of 2020, a group of Dirty Girls will be traveling to Guatemala to support the work of the Organization for the Development of the Indigenous Maya. ODIM serves two small villages on Lake Atitlán, San Juan la Laguna and San Pablo la Laguna. The organization provides healthcare and education to the indigenous Tzutujil in these villages.
The ODIM staff is made up of two foreign directors, and approximately 48 full and part-time local staff. Members of the DGA team will learn about the various programs of ODIM to combat malnutrition and provide education opportunities for the local community. Guatemala ranks #4 in the world for chronic malnutrition among children five years and younger, which is roughly 50% of all Guatemalan children, and ranks #1 for malnutrition in Central America and the Caribbean.
Guatemala’s population is made up of about 60% indigenous Maya, the majority of whom live in small rural villages in the western highlands. 76% of these indigenous people live in extreme poverty. Many indigenous families in the rural highlands live on $2 a day. Some families have a small plot of land where they grow corn or beans, barely enough to feed their families. Drought conditions for the past 3 years have made it even more difficult to subsist on their own land, so many men work as day laborers for seasonal work in the coffee fields for about $4 per day.
The Dirty Girls going on this trip will learn how the Healthy Mommy & Me program is working to break the cycle of poverty and malnutrition through maternal and infant healthcare and education in Guatemala. Each individual Dirty Girl has a fundraising goal of $2,000 and 100% of the donations will go to support the maternal and infant health program, Mamá y Yo Saludable (Healthy Mommy & Me) founded on the principles of the worldwide movement “The First 1000 Days.
Studies prove that by bolstering nutrition, education, and health practices from conception to a child’s second birthday, children can better develop physically and mentally for healthy futures. ODIM currently has over 330 mothers enrolled in the program, receiving prenatal and postnatal care, child development education, nutrition supplements, and more. Team members are trying to raise $2000 each – $1 a day for 1000 days – to support two mothers and their babies in this program. All trip expenses are being covered by the individual volunteers and no donations are being used for these personal expenses.
In addition to the fundraising, the team will also assist in various service projects for ODIM. Some possible projects could include building clean-burning stoves and installing eco-filters for clean water for local families, helping with construction or needed maintenance of the clinic buildings, joining the ODIM scholarship students on their community service project in their community and tutoring ODIM staff who are studying English.
The team will also learn about the local culture by picking coffee and seeing how it is produced at a local co-op, and getting a presentation from a local women’s weaving co-op on the traditional art of weaving with natural dyes. There will also be opportunities to learn about the natural environment around Lake Atitlán on hikes to the highest point above San Juan and climbing the dormant Volcano San Pedro.
So, how did the Dirty Girl ODIM Service Trip come to be?
In October 2018, there were two women on a DGA hike at the Perry Lake Trail who had gone to Guatemala with Jeannie (service trip leader and Dirty Girl member) several times, and they mentioned their upcoming trip to Denise while they were on the trail.
“The second day of the hike, my husband and I hosted the hikers in our front yard for their lunch stop. When Denise arrived for lunch she told me she had always wanted to do an international service trip and asked if I would be willing to lead a trip to Guatemala for DGA. I’ve led medical and construction teams to Guatemala for 25 years and I love introducing people to that country,” says Jeannie.
How can you donate?
Individual team members are raising funds for their $2000 goal through their own Facebook and email links. If you don’t know a specific Dirty Girl or would like to support the entire team you can donate here: https://odimguatemala.networkforgood.com/projects/75164-the-dirty-girl-team-s-fundraiser
If you wish to donate items opposed to money, the specific request by ODIM Healthy Mommy & Me program is for newborn kits. These kits would include baby blankets, newborn sleepers, baby hats, baby socks and baby soap. Donations of these items may be dropped off at Compass Point.
In addition, there will be craft items made by ODIM scholarship students and local artisans in San Juan and San Pablo for sale at Compass Point. This is a way to support ODIM in two ways – #1 from the purchase of the items from the local people and #2 from the proceeds that will go to the Team Fund for Healthy Mommy & Me.
If you don’t want to donate online, you may donate cash at Compass Point where you will receive a receipt or send a check made out to DGA Guatemala to Compass Point.
Can I still go on the trip?
There is still time to sign up for the service trip if anyone is interested. The total trip expense is $2000, which includes all transportation, lodging, food, and event expenses. The deadline to sign up and pay the $1000 non-refundable deposit is August 15, and the remaining $1000 is due December 1.
In addition to the trip expense, each team member is expected to raise $1000 minimum for ODIM, with a goal of $2000.
If anyone would like more information, they can contact Jeannie, (service trip leader) at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 620.412.1631.