Concrete Floors for Families
Making a Difference
You can help make a significant improvement in the health and development of a family for about $750. A World Bank study showed that replacing mud floors with concrete floors resulted in a 76% reduction in parasitic infections, a 49% reduction in diarrhea, an 81% reduction in anemia, and a 36-96% increase in cognitive development. In the past 9 months, we have been able to provide 71 needy families with concrete floors due to the generosity of our donors.
In the photo, 2 year old Darwin Maxmiliano Siqui Iqui safely plays on the brand new concrete floor in his family's house in San Simon.
We hope to provide 50 homes with concrete floors each year, with your support.
Doing What’s Needed
During the dry season, there are serious shortages of water, leading many families to have to walk to rivers or caves meet their families' needs. We have two types of water supply projects: rainwater harvesting from roofs into plastic tanks or wells that supply either large plastic water tanks or a community-sized concrete water tank. Here is a photo of a well Servants Hearts Ministries drilled at El Puente.
In 2023, we provided a producing solar-powered well and three 10,000 liter plastic water tanks for La Planada (120 families) and a well in San Simon (65 families).
Since many communities experience significant water shortages during the dry season, we would like to provide more communities access to water. We are seeking funding to enable this vision.
Government Medical Clinic in Chisec
Partnering to improve care for the community
The local clinic has a lot of potential and we have plans to make real patient care improvements. We have already provided new LED lights, dropped ceiling, paint, and ceiling fans for the main waiting area and some plumbing improvements. We have also remodeled an underutilized "outbuilding" into which the administration functions will move, freeing up consultation rooms for patient care. We are currently building a large storage building to house the many supplies, beds, etc. that are currently being stored in the unused surgery rooms - this will enable us to remodel at least one of the surgical suites for use and trigger the government to send a surgeon to the clinic. Beyond these steps, we will also improve the sterilization system for the facility, update the OB/GYN ward, and increase the capacity of the emergency department.
Paddle Wheel Aerator
2021/22 marks the 3rd year of our sponsorship of a research project at Olivet Nazarene University to develop a paddle wheel aerator system appropriate for intensive small-pond aquaculture in Guatemala. Paddle wheel aerators use less than 50% of the electricity as bubble aerators, yet are only commercially available in large sizes suitable for commercial fish production. We successfully field-tested this prototype in a local fish farmer's tilapia pond - it was able to at least match the aeration rate of a bubble aerator over a 24 hour test run.
In Fall 2022, the ONU team installed a solar power system in one of a local fish farmer's ponds - this enabled the farmer to raise 2000 fish (with zero to minimal fish mortality) in a pond previously capable of raising 600 fish. In May 2023, the ONU team returned and successfully tested paddles with improved durability and lifespan.
RAS - Recirculating Aquaculture System
Building on the successful demonstration of a household scale RAS at our El Puente site in May 2022 by students from Northwest Nazarene University, a second NNU team in May 2023 added a hydroponics system with 60 tomato plants to evolve the RAS (with tilapia) to a complete aquaponics system. We plan to provide a local family an RAS within the next 6 months as a key step in learning "what needs to be true" for a local family to profitably run the system in a long-term, sustainable manner.
Reapplication to a Tilapia Farmer
Since our focus is to reapply learning to real-world applications, we are partnering with a local "self-taught" tilapia farmer to demonstrate intensive aquaculture techniques. We demonstrated both the effects of aeration and the solar power system in Randolfo Lemus' ponds in a full grow-out season in early 2022. In the test pond, observed yield was 330% higher than the farmer's prior yields in that same pond.
The Corn Boat
The corn fields belonging to the famers living in El Porvenir are almost an hour's strenuous walk from the community. At harvest time, they usually spend a couple of weeks carrying their bags of corn in from the fields, which is quite difficult and time-consuming. We invested in a "corn boat" which we use to transport their crops along the small river in the valley by their fields. For the first Fall 2021 harvest, we transported 160 bags of corn, weighing 75-100 lb each, charging the farmers only the fuel cost for the motor. In December/January, we helped a local young man, Noe Yat, to establish this as a produce transport business. To date, the Corn Boat has transported more than 20 tons of corn from the fields in the local mountains. The Corn Boat system is entering its 3rd year of successful operation.
Our current foci are on improving corn yields and establishing small aquaculture systems (for tilapia). Our corn research in 2021 focused on evaluating 3 different locally available seed types, as well as different planting and fertilizer treatments. In the course of this work, we harvested almost 2000 lb of corn, which we distributed to our neighbors in need. Our current research "in the field" (literally) is focused on defining the benefits of different fertilizer usage rates and "turned earth" (vs. just holes in the unbroken soil). We have demonstrated the potential to, in some cases, double corn yield and farmer profit.
Currently, five farmers in the communities of Se'Chinapemech and La Planada are growing corn based on our data-based recommendations. We believe that demonstrating the best planting strategies in the fields of local farmers will provide "relevant" data for them to adopt at least some of these approaches, and to share their learning with their friends and neighbors (to aid in reapplication of the techniques).