I learned about Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala through a friend and was pleased to find that one of the organization’s top priorities coincides with one of my own professional goals—to help the Maya in Guatemala alleviate chronic childhood malnutrition. I work with 18 single mothers and their children in Santa Barbara, Huehuetengo, and know first-hand the devastating effects of malnutrition on the growth and development of children.
Last week, I decided it was time for me to visit Adopt-a-Village’s educational farm and schools. I wanted to learn about growing peanuts and amaranth from their staff with the hope that I could bring back useful information that would benefit children and families in the rural villages of Santa Barbara.
On my tour of the farm, I was introduced to the basic methods of growing two high-protein crops: amaranth and peanuts. Before I Ieft, the director packaged up seeds for me to grow in Santa Barbara.
At Adopt-a-Village’s Maya Jaguar Educational Center, I found some 40 boarding students from remote areas of Huehuetengo attending classes in the middle school and high school. The schools were situated on a high mountain slope right smack dab in the middle of a rainforest. After visiting the various classrooms and the beautiful science and computer labs with amazing technological features, I honestly felt that the students at Maya Jaguar were getting a better education than those in Huehue! At Maya Jaguar, students benefit from a broad range of academics offerings, and they also give back. I found that each student maintains an organic vegetable garden bed, which supplies delicious fresh vegetables to the school’s kitchen.
What I think I loved the most about my visit was seeing first-hand how the students shared their knowledge and talents with children in nearby villages. I accompanied students to Nuevo Progreso and watched as they gathered all the kids from the one-room schoolhouse, broke up into little groups, and read to them from fun books they’d brought along. The littles of Nuevo Progreso were completely enamored of the older students and the fact that they actually paid attention to them.
During that morning, Maya Jaguar agricultural staff taught the school kids’ mothers how to prepare amaranth in an atol (hot, thick drink) for the kids’ snack time in the new school kitchen that Adopt-a-Village had just constructed.
Discovering that students out in the jungle were not only receiving a top notch education, but also gaining valuable hands-on experience in agriculture while developing a social consciousness, just blew my mind. If you have an opportunity to support Adopt-a-Village or visit its Maya Jaguar Educational Center to see the organizations amazing accomplishments, I highly encourage you to do so. I had an unforgettable experience!
LynnAnn Murphy, manages Love Indeed, a single mothers program located in Santa Barbara, Huehuetenango.