An Update from Nourish Interns in Guatemala

This post was written by Nourish International student interns from the University of Pittsburgh, currently working with Maya Traditions, a non-profit organization in Guatemala.

The past week, we have been busy traveling and experiencing more of the culture here in Pana and in the towns around the lake.

Last Tuesday, we spent the morning in San Juan, where we met Joel who is a part of a clinic called ODIM (Organization for the Development of the Indigenous Maya). Joel gave us a tour of ODIM's building, including the pharmacy, the dentist office, and the doctor's check-up area. This organization works with the indigenous Mayan and helps provide free health care and western medicine to those who need it. The western medicine is funded by many methodist church groups back in the states, and US doctors and nurses travel to Odim to work for a year and provide care to the indigenous people of San Juan. Joel expressed how many of the Mayan people who come to their clinic trust western medicine more because western medicine is made with better technology and stricter regulations and therefore the medicine is more trustworthy and reliable. Within the community, ODIM also sponsors the creation of homes for families who are unable to afford a sustainable shelter as well as educational scholorships to students. To learn more about ODIM, check out their website here:

Last Wednesday, we traveled back to San Juan for a cooking lesson with one of the weaving cooperatives. We learned how to make tamilitos-small corn pancakes steamed in banana leaves, a traditional chicken soup--using all the parts of the chicken for the broth with mixed vegetables including potatoes, uisque (a native-Guatemalan squash) and carrots, and rice steamed with cilantro and carrots. To complement our meal, we drank a refreshing hibiscus iced tea sweetened with sugar. We all enjoyed the fresh, simple, and very tasty home-cooked lunch, using a wood and fire stove!


On Thursday, Linda, Anisah, and Kira spent the day in the garden, where they helped pave the way for the new stone staircases that will be built, and in the afternoon, they organized and sorted the scraps of fabrics for the headband product that will be sold back at Pitt. Over the past week, we have finalized the design for our bags; our designed bags will have a zipper on the top and a zipper in front for a small pocket and will be made out of the Maya Tradition's handwoven fabric. Yesterday, we placed the order with the local tailor for the bags and also for the scraps of fabrics to be hemmed, which we will then braid into headbands!

While Linda, Anisah, and Kira were busy in the garden and office on Thursday, Jenny, Aarti, and Gianna traveled to San Lucas, a small community about an hour's drive from Pana. After unloading and organizing boxes of medicinal herbs, they spent the day housing a low-income medical clinic with other Mayan healers from around the Lake. Men, women, and children of all ages came to visit these volunteers, paying what they could to receive consultations and herbal remedies for ailments such as stomach parasites, sore knees, and "the evil eye," a spirit that takes control of infants and causes long-lasting tantrums and crying. The long day ended with an eventful pick-up truck ride in a storm, but Aarti, Gianna, and Jenny arrived home just as satisfied as they were wet.

In addition, we have decided on two new tea creations; one of which will be a stomach strengthener made out of menta pipierta, apazote, and ajenjo, and the other is a remedy for colds and is a concoction of orozuz, ginger, and lemongrass. This morning, we began the chopping and cutting of herbs from the garden to be dried for our teas, which will begin hopefully bagging on Friday.


Over the weekend, we spent Friday morning on a hike to the Indian's nose in San Juan and spent Friday night in San Pedro, the neighboring town near San Juan. We met up with Indiana University's Nourish group for the hike and had a great time climbing 3km up to the Indian's nose. On Saturday, we had a farewell barbecue with Anisah, Kira, and Jenny's host family to send off Jenny as she left this past Sunday for another internship back in the states.


For the rest of the week, we plan on working on the compost project, which will help promote increased compost material for the garden and also help the environment, starting to braid the headbands when we get the hemmed scraps back, and also to continue to visit the community clinics with Maya traditions.