Archive for July, 2011

Carol’s thoughts after visiting San Jose – June 2011

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I’ve read about death rates of children under 5, Tuberculosis rates and that it is a major cause of mortality, malnutrition, lack of potable water and how extreme poverty and lack of access to┬ámedical care impacts lives in Central America.

Nowhere that I have visited in Central America exemplifies this more than the community I visited just over the border in Guatemala. I was “hit between the eyeballs” as we saw the extreme poverty, lack of sanitation and clean water access and lack of access to medical care in the community of San Jose.
Literature points to the problems in rural indigenous populations in Guatemala and this community is evidence of that.

We did a couple of immediate medical interventions…….taking a tiny 5 month old to medical care (he will likely die).


My best guess is that he was a preemie and has underdeveloped lungs. The other situation is causing us grave concern. A mom presented with her daughter who is on Rifampin for tuberculosis. This posed a host of immediate questions and concerns……who else has active TB in this community? Has there been any public health involvement re: diagnosis and treatment? We are trying to find that out?

This community has 4 immediate and urgent needs……

  1. Reliable access to safe water
  2. Sanitation…..latrinas / Hand washing
  3. Public health involvement to do TB control
  4. Dealing with some cases of life threatening lack of food

Long term needs would include a new school classroom, working with the community to increase nutrition levels and working on strategies to help this community access medical care when needed.

A cry for help

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The following documents were put together by Ellen Finn (Project School Supplies ) and Carol Brouwer (A Better World) after last weeks visit to San Jose / Guatemala…..a village on the frontera right on the other side of the border from Copan Ruinas, Honduras.

Those of us who visited were so distressed by the needs of this incredibly impoverished village that we wanted to express some of our impressions.

Ellen has already started exploring how to help these folks access a reliable water source.




Ellen’s impressions

San Jose de las Lagrimas, Guatemala is a large village (70 families) just over the Honduran border. The people are extremely friendly and very willing to collaborate on any projects to improve it’s situation. When we went to measure for the water source (about 5 kms) the village leaders met us and within minutes there were more than 45 men, walking out of their farms to help cut a swath through the jungle, so that we could measure. Marel, my assistant told me that it was an absolutely amazing and touching site to see.

The dwellings are made of plastic, much of it torn from years of use, and sticks tied together. Not all dwellings have 4 sides to them, leaving them open to strong winds and cold, and animals entering randomly.
There are chickens and small pigs, defecating on mud floors where children go barefoot. They cook with wood, directly on the ground, leaving the dwellings filled with smoke and many folks here have severe lung problems. Conditions are crowded, with often two families to a dwelling.

We originally went there to deliver school supplies and assess school needs and quickly discovered that there were more pressing needs. They have no latrines and a single water source that arrives only 3 times per week. The people “go to the bathroom” in the fields and the rains carry the mud and excrement into the village proper.

Many children do not only not have shoes, but are dressed in very flimsy, hole ridden clothing. Many little ones do not have pants or shirts.

The school is a broken down adobe building with one window and a broken door. Virtually no school supplies (we brought the teacher a much needed blackboard as well as some teaching materials). It has a mud floor. The school itself is a breeding ground for any germs or illnesses that might be present. There are 65 children jammed into this school.

There are many sick people in this village……ranging from dysentery to tuberculosis, and other lung ailments. There are two diabetics in need of amputation, but will not go to the hospital due to lack of funds.