Guatemala ’ 13
 
 

San Antonio Aguas Calientes (“The hot waters of Saint Anthony”) is a village of 8,000 native Kaqchiquel indigenous people, located within a 30 minute drive of Antigua.  It is comprised primarily of hard-working, Christian families working in agriculture, and living in relative and extreme poverty (less than $1-$3/day/person).  Public water comes into most homes, and is readily accessible most days.  Women spend most of their day collecting wood to cook with, then cook meals over an open fire, do laundry by hand at a public facility, repair clothing and maintain the home while taking care of several children and extended family members.  Many of the women also make beautiful handicrafts, tortillas, or grow vegetables, to sell in the local market, or in Antigua to tourists.  Many women suffer from respiratory problems due to working over an open fire inside the home.  Most men who have jobs depart just after sunrise on foot, some walking miles through the mountains to work long days doing strenuous agricultural manual labor, returning home just before dark.  A few men and young people have jobs in the service industry in the nearby tourist city of Antigua, taking a public bus, or riding a bicycle one hour each direction.


Paso a Paso, or Step By Step, is a licensed Non-Government Organization (NGO) that serves primarily as an after-school  program that educates nearly eighty needy children coming from 50 families of mostly single, or abandoned mothers.  Their goal is to share the love and hope of Jesus by providing help through education and training, in order to break the cycle of extreme poverty, by serving the family as a whole.  Paso a Paso was created by Marco and Ana Luisa Tulio, owners of the Ecocomal stove factory, where we purchase all of the Eco-Plancha high-efficiency stoves for the villages we serve.  Marco and Ana Luisa began Paso a Paso as a response to the extreme poverty in the local community their factory resides in.  A portion of the sale of every stove goes to support Paso a Paso, and Ana Luisa serves as it’s volunteer director.


Paso a Paso receives 100% of its funding from two organizations - an American-based non-profit in Guatemala City that provides food supplies to offer a complete meal once or twice a week to it’s students and their families, but the rest of their funding comes from Ecocomal.  Students here receive after-school help in three languages (Kaqchiquel, Spanish, and English), supplemental food and healthcare, daily Biblical teaching, tutoring in all subjects for all age groups, and a lot of love from the staff.  In addition to after-school programs for children, parents receive vocational training in cooking, sewing, weaving, and other job skills in hopes they may learn a skill to provide for their family, and, ‘Step By Step’, work their way out of extreme poverty. 


In exchange for these services, parents have an agreement with Paso a Paso:  Children must have good attendance, they must make a faithful effort to study in school, parents must be involved in their children’s education and participate in school events, and families must participate in regular community service.  If they break any of these covenants, or sell or abuse any gifts, they can be dismissed from the program.


Most children who are enrolled in Paso a Paso do not have proper shoes, good nutrition, or access to healthcare.  Most students here live on dirt floors in most of their home, but often do have access to clean water.  Children are exposed to parasites in the dirt (particularly Hookworm which is prevalent in the area), harmful smoke and dangers with open fire cooking, and many more health problems related to living in extreme poverty in a developing country like Guatemala.


Since Guatemala is a young democracy, and struggles with the powerful influence of narco-trafficking from Columbia to the U.S., corruption, and proper distribution of resources, the government does not provide many of the social and health programs that developed countries enjoy.  For this reason, churches and NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) attempt to fill this gap by providing these services.


This summer we will be offering a 2 hr VBS program in the afternoon at Paso a Paso for  80-150 children that will include Bible stories, crafts, music, games, and service components.  Bible school is one of the most requested projects from community leaders, due to the high risk of gang-life for teens in the capital Guatemala City, that families and churches are combating with the Word of God, and the love and hope of Jesus.


Our Stove Crew will be installing Eco-Plancha high-efficiency stoves in children’s homes.  These stoves burn 70% less wood, and reduce smoke by 99%.  This will improve the daily lives of dozens of women and children for many years, especially the women who spend much of their day collecting wood, and who suffer from eye and respiratory problems from smoke from open fires in the kitchen.


Our Humanitarian Aid Crew will have several projects with and for the students and their families.  Depending on our crew’s abilities, possible Humanitarian Aid projects may include:   Distributing shoes, clothes, toiletries, health kits, and school supplies, teaching hygiene and dental care classes, and possibly distributing water filters to families in need.  Potential mission projects at each site may change as needed.


Our Floor Crew will install concrete floors in bedrooms and kitchens of some of the poorest students in the program, to offer a better quality of life, and to prevent parasites like Hookworm, many bacterias, and diseases that are common from living on dirt floors in a country like Guatemala where it rains 5 months per year.


Our Medical Crew will offer some basic healthcare, anti-parasite meds, and vitamins to the students, their families, and the local village, because there is not a local doctor, and basic healthcare is not accessible to most living in extreme poverty.


Our Eyeglass Crew will offer dozens of eye exam screenings, provide allergy and lubricating eye drops, and outfit children and their families with reading, distance, and sunglasses to prevent eye damage from working and living in the sun.


For more mission information, visit the FAQs page.  For photos and more information, please visit the previous blogs and watch our documentary.


 
Paso  a  Paso ~ step  by  step
    village  of  San Antonio Aguas Calientes, guatemala