The Maya of Guatemala and Southern Mexico generally live in
rural areas and survive primarily on subsistence farming, as
well as seasonal work on coffee, cotton, and sugar plantations.
Unfortunately, neither their own farming nor the work they
perform for others provide them with sufficient yield or income
to properly feed or clothe themselves.
The result is extreme poverty. Due to this poverty, malnutrition
is the number one problem. It causes poor brain and immune
system development. These factors lead to a) an inability
to develop normal intellectual capacity, and b) a susceptibilty
to illness at an early age.
The lack of intellectual capacity, in turn, leads to poor
performance in school, which results in one or more social
consequences. First, poor performance frustrates the student
and brings with it a high drop-out rate. Second, even for
those who continue through the sixth grade, which is the
highest grade level most Maya achieve, the options for upward
mobility are nil. As a result of both of these consequences,
most Maya live in a cycle of poverty, from which neither
they nor their children, nor their grandchildren can escape.
A greater susceptibility to illness, alternatively, not
only contributes to the abovementioned poor school performance,
but also causes death at a premature age. The rate of death
for children under age five is one of the highest in the
world. And the general longevity for persons who live beyond
five years of age is also low, due both to diseases, such
as malaria and dengue fever, and death during childbirth.
It is the mission of Mayan Medical Aid to break this
cycle of poverty and malnutrition, while maintaining the
important cultural traditions of the Maya. By providing adequate
nutrition, primary health care, and sanitation, our organization
will intervene to disrupt the centuries-old pain and suffering
the Mayan people continue to endure on a daily basis.
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