Worms? Worms will never make the news. They are not exciting like tsunamis or earthquakes, yet they are just as devastating. Worms are second only to malaria in their effects, representing 40% of global morbidity rates from infections. Research indicates that close to 70% of children in developing countries have more than one type of worm. Worms fill the bellies and steal the nutrients of children in impoverished countries worldwide, and Guatemala is no exception.
Refuge International has spearheaded a massive, schoolbased deworming program. Why worms? Even if worms don't 'kill,' they sap children of their energy and cause significant growth stunting. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that treating for intestinal worms is the most cost-effective way to raise school attendance.
Guatemala has the 6th highest child malnutrition rate in the WORLD. Part of helping these children become healthier, is ridding them of the parasites who prevent them from absorbing nutrients. The “Adios Lombrices” or “Goodbye Worms” project launched its first distribution of worm medication to 600,000 children in four different departments (states) in Guatemala in March, 2007. Studies have shown that school-based deworming programs reach the most kids. Teachers provide education on good hygiene practices and administer the medication to all children age 2-15, whether they were enrolled in school or not. (Many children do not attend school due to poverty.)
In the spring of 2008, the third Adios Lombrices day resulted in the distribution of 1 million doses of medication to children age 2-15 living in 8 different departments in Guatemala. A $25,000 grant from Kiwanis International provided funding for another 1.25 million doses, which were distributed in 2009 and 2010.
Over 3 million doses of medication have been administered over the last few years.
In 2012, Refuge International’s efforts to expand this project to deworm all of the children came to fruition. After a successful meeting with the National Ministries of Health and Education, FOUR MILLION DOSES of the deworming medication albendazole was distributed to all of the schools in Guatemala. This was made possible by our partners, Rotary Clubs in District 5830 in Northeast Texas, Planting Peace and the Franconia Mission of the Mennonite Church.
Refuge International continues to seek the funds needed to continue this project, deworming all of the children of Guatemala for the next 3 years.
Other important partners in this battle against worm infestations include the Pan American Health Organization, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education of Guatemala, Kiwanis International, the Church of the Nazarene, WOW (Wipe Out Worms) and Brewda Avila. While basic hygiene issues will continue to be of concern, scientific studies show that if children are free of worms for any period of time, they will grow and they can learn.
Help Us Help Children
If your group gives grants for the health of children, please contact us so we can reach out to every child in Guatemala.
For 2 pennies, a child can be free of worms. For a dime, 5 children can be free of worms. The overall cost of treating the 4.5 million children, six different times, is $800,000.
Refuge is has 3.25 million doses of albendazole ready for distribution in 2013. We need to raise $18,000 to purchase the remainder of the medications needed. If you would like to contribute to the project, please contact Refuge International at (903) 234-8660, or donate online securely using PayPal.
Help us help the children in Guatemala live a long and productive life!