What a great way to start the year 2016. We have an amazing group of 6 volunteers, including founders Jasmine Patel and Mystic Palencia. The other four volunteers are Alex Rosa (secretary), Bhavika Joshi, Michele Aguilar, and Eliana Trejo. Each volunteer incorporates their own knowledge, personality, and expertise to form the perfect team. The first country TCF has chosen to visit for its inaugural mission is Guatemala. First off, none of this would have been possible without our amazing liason, Silvana Ayuso. Silvana is a well connected woman, not only in her home Guatemala, but also around many other countries. She continuously dedicates her time to serve communities in need. Pictured below is Silvana doing what she does best: making people smile.
TCF's mission is to educate young women and mothers of the importance of nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy to help reduce the risks of a child being born with defects and health complications. TCF also aims to debunk the myths associated with why cleft lips and cleft palates occur and bring awareness about the deformity. The Cleft Foundation's name was inspired by a previous mission that Mystic and Jasmine took together where they were translators for doctors providing free reconstructive surgeries to children with clefts. There are many theories and reasons explaning why clefts occur, specifically smoking, drinking, drug usage, prescription medication interaction, low folic acid intake, and genetics throughout a pregnancy. In developing countries, clefts are thought to occur because of old myths and bad karma. As a result, children born with clefts are hidden and are never able to live a normal life.
Pregnancy nutrition is extremely important for both the mother and the newborn child. Many women in third world/developing countries lack the education and knowledge about vitamins, minerals, calories, etc that are needed for a healthy pregnancy. TCF will hold seminars with women as well as provide educational brochues, folic acid supplements, and prenatal vitamins to support a pregnancy. Our volunteers have also brought along feminine products, old clothes, and soaps to donate.
The Airport Nightmare:
Our flight left from LAX on January 3, 2016 at 6:00 A.M..... YIKES!! We arrived in Mexico City and had a four hour layover and finally ended at our destination, Guatemala City at 7:00 P.M. While landing in Guatemala city, our plane flew past an errupting volcano. It was a beautiful sight for all of us Californians, a sign of good luck.
TCF volunteers brought along about 800 bottles of Folic Acid, 200 bottles of Prenatal Vitamins, pounds of clothes, suitcases filled with feminine products, and too many soap bars to count! Pictured below is President of TCF, Jasmine Patel, strategically packing vitamins with volunteer, Michele Aguilar. 1,000 bottles is not light!
Let's just say that Customs had a field day with our bags, and after much discussion, proof of acceptance from the Minister of Health of Guatemala, and Silvana's persuading words, we made it through and were on our way to our hotel for the night, Barcelo. Every volunteer was exhausted from lack of sleep and a full day of traveling, however the excitement of the mission helped relieve the exhaustion. After checking into our hotel, the entire group sat down and discussed our plans for the week. We can't wait to fill you in on our daily adventures and heart warming experiences.
12/30/2015 - 12/04/2015
What an amazing week! TCF visited three communities in Retalhuleu: Champerico, Nuevo San Carlos, and San Andrés Villaseca. Let us first introduce our dear friend Rolando Velásquez. Jasmine and Mystic met Rolando while volunteering in Guatemala in February 2015. He is a hard working nurse who is passionate about health education among rural communities. Rolando offered to volunteer this year with TCF. His main responsiblity was to lead the such as leading the health seminars because of his coloquial terminology