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AFS International Club collaborates with the Glens Falls Medical Mission to Guatemala

photo of students at Crandall ParkMay 19, 2014 — In the photo at right, AFS International Club members Mia Cote, advisor Shannon McKeighan, Melanie Catone, Cooper Knapp, Emily Haas, Madison Jackson, Olivia Southworth, and Cheyenne McQuain pause for a team photo at the Rotary’s Water Walk in Crandall Park.

Children in Guatemala are receiving much-needed vitamins and nutritional education because of the efforts of Glens Falls High School students in the AFS International Club.

This spring, AFS began an ongoing collaboration with the Glens Falls Medical Mission to Guatemala. This collaboration gives the club an opportunity to meet the mission statement of AFS: "To provide intercultural learning experiences that help people become agents of positive change in the world."

photo of students

Dr. Kathy Braico provided these pictures of the children in Santa Rosa, Guatemala using the coloring pages that Glens Falls AFS International Club members created—along with donated crayons.

“Dr. Kathy Braico, director of the Glens Falls Medical Mission, visited some of the high school Spanish classes to educate our students about the struggles facing the residents of Santa Rosa, Guatemala and how our efforts would be helping them,” said club co-advisor and GFHS Spanish teacher Shannon McKeighan. According to Dr. Braico, "Guatemala has the highest rate of stunting (low height for age) in the Americas. This is particularly due to poor nutrition in the first 1000 days of life. Guatemala is a low literacy country, and nutritional education is not taught in the schools. We try to teach the mothers who come to the clinic about nutrition."

Photo of medical mission to GuatemalaThrough a Hoffman Car Wash fundraiser and several student donations, AFS students were able to buy $400 worth of children's vitamins to be given to the families that came to the health clinic in April. Also, AFS club members and students in many Spanish classes created coloring books in Spanish about good nutrition. “We also purchased 500 packages of small crayons for the children to use to color the sheets that were created,” said Mrs. McKeighan.

photo of students

Guatemala photos courtesy of Dr. Kathy Braico.

The club plans on continuing to work with the GFMM in upcoming years. In the fall, AFS students will be writing puppet shows in Spanish about good nutrition and hygiene that can be performed by mission volunteers for the children and their families. Upon returning from the mission, Dr. Braico sent students a message that, "The coloring sheets were a big hit! Every one was used, as were all the crayons of course. The kids colored them very carefully, and proudly took them home."

AFS Students also raise funds for Pure Water for the World

In an additional community service effort, members of the AFS International Club participated in the Glens Falls Rotary Foundation's Water Walk at Crandall Park in Glens Falls on May 10.

The club raised $265 dollars through several fundraising efforts to donate to The Rotary Foundation and Pure Water for the World. “These groups then combine funds and efforts to provide thousands of bio-sand filters to serve 15,000 people with clean drinking water in Choluteca, Honduras.” Said Mrs. McKeighan. High school Spanish teacher Michele Hogan is also co-advisor of the club.