Our model is proven in rural Guatemala and applicable in impoverished rural communities worldwide. Helping children grow up healthy, well-nourished, and literate starts with empowering women to catalyze change in their families and communities. Here’s how:
Interested schools/communities first submit a written request to work with Mil Milagros and are placed on our waiting list. Our staff team then conducts a community assessment to assess need, leadership capacity and commitment, existing programs, community strengths, and available infrastructure.
Once a school/community is selected as a potential Mil Milagros partner, we spend several months establishing community buy-in and trust. Parents, teachers, community leaders, and students participate in meetings to share and discuss their values and goals. We then draft letters of commitment, and representatives from the student body, parents, teachers, and the local government sign the letters at a public inauguration.
In communities where women rarely have opportunities to lead or to work outside the home, mothers and grandmothers are elected by their neighbors to serve on Mil Milagros’ local Boards of Directors. We train these Board members in leadership, teamwork, nutrition, and health/hygiene so they can lead their families, neighbors, and children’s schools in building healthier communities.
Local governments provide the necessary leadership and resources to help build a sustainable foundation for the improvement of their communities. We conduct monthly meetings monthly with local government leaders to assess progress and ensure the political will and capacity to implement the programs successfully.
In the region where Mil Milagros works, more than 70% of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. This puts the children at risk for chronic learning problems and chronic disease. We provide pregnant women and children 0-5 years old with essential vitamins and nutritional supplements to help prevent malnutrition and stunting. Mothers acquire knowledge about nutrition, healthy/hygiene, parenting, and child development. Children at high risk of severe chronic malnutrition are referred for intensive intervention.
Mother and grandmother volunteers are given the training and resources to feed children nourishing meals at school. Children bring their own dishes to school, along with firewood for the school stoves, and consume nutritious meals and snacks prepared each school day with love by their mothers and grandmothers.
Children receive hygiene supplies and access to clean drinking water at their schools. Teachers create hygiene “corners” in their classroom to support healthy hygiene. Student council members are trained to teach their classmates about the importance of eating healthy foods and practicing good hygiene to prevent illness. Mother volunteers support hygiene workshops at school. Children implement healthy habits at school and at home.
In rural Guatemala, the primary school completion rate is 51%. By feeding the children at school, the children go to school, stay in school, and graduate. On average, 95% of our sixth grade graduates go on to middle school.
Guatemala has one of the lowest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere. Schools in rural Guatemala often lack books and adequately trained teachers. We provide books to our partner schools, teacher training, and instructional coaching by a literacy expert. Children complete the sixth grade literate, healthy, and prepared to continue their education.
We form strategic partnerships with other non-profit organizations to address pressing community needs including health and dental care, construction of schools and homes, and access to water.
We rigorously evaluate our progress and impact. We track each child’s height and weight, school attendance, and reading performance. We measure mothers’ learning and conduct home visits to evaluate whether mothers’ new knowledge and skills are being put into practice. Learn More About Our Impact
Parents, teachers, and students participate in focus groups twice a year to assess what is working and what needs to improve. The community evaluates progress toward our shared goals and whether each party followed through on their commitments. They celebrate successes and identify strategies to make improvements in the coming year.