Friday, July 1, 2011

The Children's Malnutrition Center

About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to Guatemala to work in a Malnutrition Center. It was a life-changing trip, which is why I decided to share about it here. While I typically don't blog here about my travel plans, social life, etc... I felt that this was something special and I wanted to give you all the opportunity to learn about and meet some amazing children and people that I had the privilege to meet.

One thing that made this trip so special was that it was a mother-daughter trip... so I got to share this incredible experience with my mother- and other really inspiring women!! 
Madre y moi

We flew into Guatemala City, and drove to Antigua, where we stayed. From there we took a bus each day to San Juan Sacatapequez, where the Children’s Malnutrition Center is located. The Center is primarily made up of children whose parents are no longer able to financially care for them. When the children arrive, they are often extremely malnourished. A seven-month old baby was brought to the Center while we were there-- he was 7 pounds and wearing newborn clothes. So sad. He had to be taken to the hospital, as some of the children do upon arrival.

The Center is owned by the Lions Club of Guatemala, and is largely funded by the organization that we went with, called Orphan’s Heart! During our week visiting the Center, there were 67 children staying there, equipped with 4 workers to take care of all the children. Two workers stay overnight. Can you imagine what it must be like having two people taking care of 67 children under the age of four each night? Wow.

Three of our little babes having a snack :-)
Our volunteer work while there consisted of holding the children, feeding them, bathing them, changing their diapers (I actually never had to change a diaper—coincidence?), and just showing them affection. Considering the child to worker ratio, these children receive such little affection. While a lot of these children have parents, their parents are unable to care for them due to finances, so they drop them at the Center so they can be taken care of adequately. Sadly, with so few workers and so many children, sometimes the children do not have diaper changes more than twice a day. For an infant or toddler, 6-8 diaper changes in a day might be more typical. This means that these children often sit with wet and dirty diapers. We were able to re-stock their supply room and pantry with things that we had brought along with us- diapers, toiletries, toothbrushes, etc. as a way to provide the children with more resources.
Sweet little ones in their cribs...

I am still processing my time in Guatemala, and what I learned from my experience there. But here are a few quick insights.

1.    Generosity- These children are so content with so little. It’s pretty incredible to think about how much we have living in America- and I think that it certainly begs a few questions… how might we help others? How might we use our resources to help those who are in need?

2.   Big Picture- I think it is valuable to step away from our lives for a minute to get a glimpse of the bigger picture. We can get so caught up in our lives, our work, our relationships… that we forget that life exists beyond ourselves! This does not at all mean that we need not be concerned with our lives- but it’s important to try to find a balance! Serving others and looking outward is so important.

3.   Gratitude- After visiting third world countries, it is always interesting to come home to the luxuries of the first world. I think that rather than feel guilty about the things that we have, and the things that we have access to, we have a responsibility to appreciate what we have, but more so, to ponder how we might give to others and share what we have!!

The last thing I will say (holy lengthy post!) is that when we volunteer or serve others, we often are the ones that walk away changed. It's not that we serve others for the sake of feeling good about ourselves of course, but I think when we help others, we often leave the experience feeling more greatly impacted by those whom we serve. I know that the children and workers at the Center left such a great impact on me, greater than anything that I could have done in my short time there. For more info on the Center, or to find out how you might donate or buy supplies for the Center, follow this link.
I love this little guy- wish I could have smuggled him home with me!!!

1 comment:

  1. Glad that you have The Children's Malnutrition Center this center can be a big help for the children who suffer from Malnutrition.