Howdy! Our names are Will Carey and Dani Garcia-Caro. We are members of the Academy for Future International Leaders (AFIL), is a year-long high impact interdisciplinary program in which Texas A&M undergraduates obtain in-depth learning experiences in global issues. As part of this program, groups consisting of two undergraduates work together to complete an International Leadership Challenge Project. Our Leadership Challenge Project is the Guatemala Youth Gardening and Nutrition Project. In a nutshell, our project is helping to raise funds for agricultural development programs and for the promotion of better nutrition by partnering with the non-profit NPH (Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos) and it’s local children’s school and safe house, Casa San Andrés.
In Guatemala’s highlands, about an hour from Guatemala City in Parramos, “Casa San Andres” is home to over 300 children. In 2000, Casa San Andres opened its doors to impoverished children from the community to offer educational scholarships. The program has been so successful that the home now has over 150 external students. Over 100 students from the surrounding community have graduated from the NPH Elementary School since it opened to local families. The participating students benefit from quality instruction by the teachers at the home and a superior education, which they may utilize throughout their lives.
Currently, the chronic malnutrition rate in Guatemala for children under 5 years of age is 49.8% which is the ranks 4th highest in the world. Guatemala suffers from economic and food insecurity issues which are made worse by the extended drought period (World Food Programme). In light of this information, one can acknowledge the importance of this project and all others like it. Even the smallest donation can help purchase agricultural inputs for NPH’s field and greenhouse crops (seeds, fertilizers, tools), educational materials in Spanish, new technology (i.e. rototiller or cultivator) that speeds up the planting and harvesting process, and provide children with daily vitamins and health education.
We are both excited to partner with Texas A&M’s ConDev Center and the Conflict and Development Foundation (CDF) to make this program a success. Cities like Parramos are struggling to recover from the effects of a 36-year civil war, which included leaving hundreds of children orphaned, abandoned, or living in extreme poverty. Casa San Andres is making a difference.