Guatemala: Women’s Health and Hygiene

Sorry about the lull in posts… Life happens sometimes and I have been busy these past two weeks with work/holiday hours and then out of town photo shoots. I am back however! AND this just stretches the Guatemala experience out more for you all since I have a few more posts to share after this one as well!

Our last segment of mission and outreach work was giving two women’s health and hygiene talks in two different villages. The first village we went to was the one we had put stoves in and the second was where the clinic was located. So we were very familiar with both and saw familiar faces at both talks. We broke our groups into two, one group for the women’s talk and the other group for children’s ministry. The ones in children’s ministry did crafts, played games, blew and made balloon animals, etc. The women’s talk group broke up our talk into five parts; hygiene, feminine hygiene, diabetes, electrolytes and rehydration, and then stretches between each section. The stretching was mainly because many of the Mayan women will weave in a curled position for about eight hours a day, as well as many are bent over their stoves cooking for their families. We wanted to give them some ways to stretch their sore backs and get their blood moving.75223807_10219988672410817_115947349439676416_n

My section to talk about was hygiene… I shared the benefits of washing one’s hands, how to wash your hands properly, when to wash your hands, and even sang happy birthday to show how long to wash your hands for. I then taught how to cough properly as well to avoid the spread of germs. The other ladies then each talked about each of the other topics sharing tips and information to try and help these women live a healthier life. We reiterated a lot that a happy healthy family started with the women taking care of themselves so they were healthy for their family. So often enough the women are working all the time, taking care of their family, weaving and trying to sell their weaves, etc. that they often put themselves on the back burner. We all do that sometimes… put ourselves on the back burner. It is so important though to take care of ourselves and it is not selfish at all to check in and take some rest or take care of yourself for a bit.74457251_813108285758723_921145939530350592_n

We had a translator that worked with us for the talk. She was the sweetest lady ever and so gorgeous on the inside and outside. It was interesting and a very different experience working with a translator though. You had to remember to not talk for too long or it would be too much for the translator to remember. You also had to speak at the women present not towards the translator, even if the women couldn’t understand what you were saying. It was connecting and drawing them in, being aware of them as well as the translator. It was definitely very fun. At our first talk Maria and her daughter who we had built stoves for came and it was so wonderful to reconnect and talk with her. They were the only two ladies that showed up so it was very personal and Maria had so many good questions. The second talk we had a family with three generations come as well as a couple other lovely ladies and the nurse from the clinic was there as well. After both talks we shared tostadas with the women and all the children as a yummy snack before they all left. My goodness those tostadas tasted amazing. They were so simple yet so incredibly delicious. A flat taco, black beans spread on top with some salsa and then sprinkled cheese. Yummy yummy yummy!

One of my highlights of these couple days was watching my dad interact with all the children. He is so good with kids and each time I would look out he would be surrounded by a group of laughing smiling children. There was one time he started blowing bubbles up a hill and then children would run chasing them, laughing and trying to pop them before coming back to my dad for more. It was just really sweet to watch. Dad and I also had a really fun time talking with a young man there. My Spanish held up enough to find out that he was a runner and his uncle was a famous runner and that he ran the hills around the villages all the time. Beast mode!74524031_10219988763613097_2972815537240801280_n

These talks wrapped up the end of our mission work on our trip as the rest of our time in Guatemala was spent exploring and learning about the culture, cacao, and much more. I loved though how eye opening this experience was. How being in the Mayan villages reminded me of how much I take for granted and how many things in my life that I think are necessary really aren’t in the long run. Family is huge. Living each day fully is huge. Enjoying the little moments is huge. Stopping and just enjoying the slowness of life is so important. So often enough we see poor cultures and automatically feel pity, but it’s not until you visit and really open your eyes you see the richness. You see the love and suddenly just feel so honored to get to be even a small part of the culture and lives of these incredible people.75402099_10219988672050808_5958029425294442496_n

11 Comments Add yours

  1. jobeccarn says:

    Reblogged this on jobeccarn and commented:
    Women in all cultures are in the position to have a great influence in other’s lives. By helping improve simple hygiene practices, families can have improved health outcomes. Educating mothers on the importance of hand washing practices and covering one’s cough, plus giving them practical ideas/tools on how to teach their children and neighbors can help reduce illness in one’s household and community. In addition, teaching women how to do self breast checks can help reduce breast cancer mortality as anomalies will be recognized earlier. Our health and hygiene talks covered both these topics, diabetes awareness, the benefits of stretching, and finally a recipe for a sugar free oral rehydration drink.

    Many people may this these things are obvious, but in reality figuring out how to accomplish even the simplest hygiene strategies when there is no running water and only latrine type toilets can be challenging. Most Mayans only go to school through the 6th grade, so the likelihood that these women have received education on breast cancer awareness or even diabetes could be slim. Educating women not only helps the individual woman, but filters down to her children and may even have lateral benefits as she shares with a sister, mother or friend. These small changes can help improve the life of a family and the surrounding community. I am thankful we were able to start the conversations, and hope the efforts will continue to grow and help these communities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wmeberle says:

      True words… Education is key, especially those things that seem basic or self evident to us.


  2. wmeberle says:

    What great work you all have done, Mikaela! When you educate women on these topics, that can spread well beyond that initial audience. I love the connections you made with the folks there, Mikaela, that’s a precious investment. Thank you for continuing to share your experiences there, what a great opportunity.

    And, good for you, for keeping so busy and all the photo shoots! Wonderful!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, my friend! *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mjaquette says:

      Awww thank you so much!! I’ve missed ya! Merry Christmas to you too xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. wmeberle says:

        Thank you, Mikaela! I’ve missed you as well, you’re one of the very few people I miss seeing on Instagram…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. mjaquette says:

        Aw yeah same to you!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Frank Dalziel says:

    Hi Mikaela: Thanks for adding this instalment on your trip to Guatemala! You are such a gifted writer and manage to inject colour and meaningful observations into everything you do. This was obviously a fantastic experience for you and your family and I feel fortunate to re-live some of the details of your adventures. I think what you did to try to improve Mayan people’s lives is really amazing. I’d like to thank you for sharing your experiences. Thanks Mikaela! 🥰🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mjaquette says:

      Awww thank you so much for reading frank!


  4. Frank Dalziel says:

    Mikaela: Reading about your life and your work is always my pleasure!! Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s