We are deeply saddened to learn that our key personnel, Alfonso and Lety, in the village of Chajmaic, have contracted Covid.
Due to the extreme Covid outbreak in Guatemala, there are no resources to help them there. The main supplier of oxygen, Productos del Aire, has stopped production, due to completely saturated demand far exceeding supplies.
Anyone who goes to the hospital believes – rightfully so – that they are going there to die. Most never return alive, and their families are allowed zero contact with them until they are dead. So, people in the village try home remedies (coffee with lemon) and prefer to die at home.
Within the village of Chajmaic, the virus is traveling from house to house, infecting every person living within. Lety and Alfonso have a small store (tienda) and they believe that they contracted the virus from someone with Covid who entered their store. They first started showing symptoms 5 days ago, and their daughter, Wendy, showed symptoms yesterday.
At first Sowing Opportunities explored sending two 100-lb. tanks of oxygen from the U.S., but a prescription is needed and the cost was prohibitive for just two days of oxygen for one person – and there is no guarantee that it would arrive safely and on time.
Also, no medical personnel is willing to enter the red zone, which includes the local municipality of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas. In fact, all interns through Operaciones Practicas de la Salud (OPS) have been sent home to Guatemala City as Covid has gotten completely out of control. Even the Guatemalan Institute for Social Security, IS, is saturated with need.
So, after consultation with a doctor in Guatemala City, we are doing what we can, trying to provide the most benefit with the funds available, and so, after consultation with a doctor in Guatemala City, we determined that the best we can do is to send aspirin, Vitamin C, and electrolytes (“serum”), and food right now.
If you pray, please include the people of Chajmaic in your prayers. Thank you.
Thank you to the City of Malden for their initiative in creating the Malden Summer Festivals. They were a lot of fun and successful! Sowing Opportunities gave away plants to the community, made new contacts, and talked about our work in Chajmaic, Guatemala. Click here for additional information.
“Any chance you got to visit the start of the Malden Summer Festivals season? Fern Remedi-Brown was giving plants away and talking about the non-profit Sowing Opportunities, Inc. Their mission is ‘to cultivate self-sustainability, education, and wellness in rural Guatemala – one village at a time.'”
In early March 2021, Alfonso Gómez started a mini-greenhouse, planting Swiss chard, in the hopes of beginning a small greenhouse project.
However, it didn’t sprout because the people of Chajmaic didn’t have the on-site technical support. Sowing Opportunities is working on making that a reality, even incrementally. This is difficult to achieve because of the remoteness of the region.
As of Earth Day 2021, the people of Chajmaic are preparing the land and Sowing Opportunities is working actively to bring someone to provide support. This effort is in process.
The cost of bringing in a technical expert for one month of intensive training is $4,639, which includes $1,481 for travel (5 days), $818 for hotel and meals (30 days), and $2,340 for salary (30 days). This comes out to $19/hour (30 days @ 8 hours/day) for advice from Federico Arriola, Expert agronomist advisor. We intend to begin this work in Chajmaic in November 2021, after the rainy season ends in Guatemala. Here is the annual budget for the greenhouse workshop.
This is an example of Federico’s work after working for the past year in an area that was devastated by Volcán de Fuego (Chi Q’aq), Guatemala, when it erupted in April 2020:
Meanwhile, the people of Chajmaic are working to develop the land, and learn what they can on their own:
Chajmaic’s greatest resource is its abundant river, el Río Cahabón. This river flows for over 120 miles and provides for all the needs of those in the village. See Sowing Opportunities’ recent Neighborhood View article and our recent newsletter email.
However, as in many places in the world where a body of water serves all the needs of its population, it contains water-borne illnesses: multiple parasites, worms, gastritis, and Helicobacter Pylori.
Over 30 years ago the municipality initiated a project to pump the water from the river, to deliver it to sections of the village so that people wouldn’t have to carry it back to their homes:
In December 2017, our project manager, Ricardo San José, and two agricultural engineers, Antonio Longo and Federico Arriola, met with the municipal mayor, Lillian García Contreras, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas and she showed them the pump house in Fray and they gained her approval for our team to do the work in Chajmaic.
When the team returned on a goodwill visit in May 2018 to meet with village leadership (COCODE), they learned that Alcadesa García had already begun the project in Chajmaic! A new pump house, a 600,000 gallon capacity water tank at the top of a steep hill, and pipes running to and from the water tank had already been constructed:
The only things lacking were electricity and faucets to each section of the village.
In August 2019, a new mayor, Arnoldo Fontana, was elected to the municipality of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas. He completed the project, going even further than the previous plan, bringing not only electricity, but also faucets to each of the 350 homes in the village:
The next thing that is needed is to install filters at water tower, which costs $5,000 per filter. Two filters are needed at the location of the water tank. Each filter lasts two years, so that annual cost would be $5,000, divided by two years. The other cost for the water project is the monthly cost of electricity for the water pump @ $97 per year.
The filtered water will be used for drinking and for agriculture, as well.
Sowing Opportunities is seeking seed money to purchase two filters for the water tower and ongoing costs for electricity to run the water pump.
We’re raising funds for filtration and paying the electricity bill. Can you help?
In March 2021, in celebration and support of World Water Day one of Sowing Opportunities’ key contacts in the village, Wendy Gómez, got these quotes and photos from the people in the village regarding fetching water:
Choc Tiul family
Why is water important?
Because it is something that helps us survive and without water we die.
Tiul Coc Family
What is water for?
To drink for domestic use cooking and washing many things.
Choc Choc Family
Who does water benefit positively?
To our community.
Pop Coc Family
What would happen if the water ran out?
We would die because without water we would not bear to live long.
Figueroa Chavez Family
5. How does water improve the functioning of our body?
It keeps the kidneys healthy and hydrates the skin.
Sacul Chub Family
6. Why is it important to conserve water?
Because it is what helps us to survive and we must make good use of it properly, so that we can have it more easily at our disposal.
Choc Lima Family
7. Why take care of water?
Because without water we cannot do much and as it is vital for us we have to take care of it because the water runs out and if we do not take care of it we will run out of water.
Cú Ical Family
8. Why are ways to preserve water created?
Because in many places rivers have been drawn and people cut down many trees and throw away a lot of garbage and there is a lot of pollution.
Macz Tiul Family
9. Why are there organizations that promote water care?
To prevent humans from continuing to pollute and become aware of our duty to care for and use what is necessary to avoid misuse.
Ba Chub Family
10. What are the consequences of not conserving water?
Because if we don’t keep it well or don’t take care of the place where we get the water from, it can run out and we run out of water.
Gomez Caal Family
11. What are the advantages of caring for water?
Because we can have the amount we need and if we take care of it we avoid contaminating it and thus we do not get sick.
Ical Ba Family
12. Why is water important for animals?
Because it helps them survive
Tiul Cucul Family
13. why does water promote plant growth?
Because it moves soil minerals through the plant when the soil dries out, root growth slows down and plants don’t grow.
and grow and helps them keep their bodies healthy.
Sowing Opportunities held a clothing drive and, thanks to the support of many, we collected over 300 large bags totaling over 5,000 lbs. Through the Savers FUNDrive® program, our #nonprofit earned over $1,300 for purchasing #groceries for families in the #village of Chajmaic, #Guatemala during the #pandemic, or to start our #agricultural project. We are seeking a #corporate, or individual, sustaining supporter/s. Details: https://conta.cc/3bvuXGU
Our goal on June 29, 2020 was 100 bags. On August 29, 2020 we delivered over 300 bags to Savers!
Sowing Opportunities is indebted to the capable assistance of Elena Martínez and Valmy González for their help in organizing and LIFTING and transporting (from one storage facility to another), nearly 260 bags of soft goods for our Savers fundraiser! Val did the heavy lifting all day (August 2nd) and Elena was our constant support, providing website assistance, taking professional photos to document our day, and keeping track of the bags. Not an easy feat! If you are looking for a skilled and innovative web designer, check out Elena’s website!
Sowing Opportunities appreciates the generosity and efforts of the employees at U-Haul, 124-126 Eastern Ave., Malden, MA. The manager, Amilcar, provided our nonprofit with three storage bins for one month and, at one point, one of the employees, Devyne, helped me bring 16 heavy bags down the stairs to our bin when the elevator was broken. Kevin tried his best to help me open a lock that was truly jammed and the team provided a new lock so that the process was (almost!) effortless. The efforts of the employees at U-Haul, 420 Eastern Ave., Malden, MA were equally amazing! Luis, Trey, and Andrew set things up for us and were incredibly efficient and kind, fork-lifting our U-boxes to us when we requested them. They are indeed an essential service in Malden!