by Nicole Duciaume
ChildFund Regional Sponsorship Coordinator
Americas Regional Office
Nicole’s travels to ChildFund projects continue this week, where she is blogging from Guatemala.
Nestled in the valley of the central highland volcanoes of Guatemala is the historic tourist site of Antigua. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this city is as much revered for its historic charm as it is famed for its modern-day vibrant night life, colorful markets, top-quality restaurants, upscale hotels, Spanish-language schools and beautiful vistas. It’s a must-see for any tourist traveling through Guatemala.
About 10 minutes outside Antigua, just past where the quaint cobblestone streets end and the boughs of the bougainvillea no longer peek over the private farm walls, I locate a ChildFund project called Corazon de los Ninos.
Driving down the street to the project office, you wouldn’t know that you were a few kilometers from the world-renowned tourist attraction. This neighborhood has a more utilitarian feel (pharmacy, egg stand, utility wires crisscrossing overhead).Yet, when you enter Corazon de los Ninos, you quickly realize you’ve happened on a dynamic, energy-infused hub for child well-being.
The physical center boasts space for medical, dental, psychological and laboratory consultations as well as a pharmacy. It’s also where children and families gather to write letters to their sponsors and receive training on parenting, child well-being, health and environmental safety. Each month, the center distributes food supplements such as kidney beans and sugar.
During my tour of the facilities, the evidence of recent construction crunches under foot. Earlier this week, the community held a ceremony to place the first brick of a new second story—a level that will have a ludateca (like a library, but with educational toys for infants, children and youth to show the developmental and social importance of play), a multipurpose meeting/training room and a few offices to free up space for additional programs on the overcrowded first floor.
The first floor is also being renovated to include a full kitchen and training room to teach mothers about healthy nutrition, food preparation and caring for their children. The renovations should be complete in the next three months.
Although the expanding center is impressive in both service variety and delivery, the core of the project is outreach to children and families in neighboring communities to offer early childhood education, health and nutrition training and home improvements as needed.
Lilia, the center director, shares the exciting news of just how much Corazon de los Ninos has changed for the better over the past 20 years. It’s gratifying to know that ChildFund has had a hand in this movement for children.