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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Wuqu' Kawoq - Maya Health Alliance

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community Health Systems, Health, Human Services

Mission: Maya Health Alliance | Wuqu’ Kawoq is a registered non-governmental organization (NGO) in Guatemala and the U.S. since 2007, dedicated to providing comprehensive, high-quality healthcare to the rural indigenous Maya of Guatemala. Our model involves partnering with communities to identify their unique needs, providing integrated primary care and specialty care free of charge, and tailoring services to overcome the systemic barriers to health that our patients face. We stand out from the other NGOs in Guatemala because of our medical expertise, robust program evaluation and quality-improvement, and nuanced understanding of local culture, including care provided in the Maya languages that our patients speak.

Results: We have especially developed expertise in the areas of child malnutrition treatment and prevention, maternal-child health programs, diabetes and chronic disease management,

Target demographics: Kaqchikel and K'ichee' speaking indigenous communities in Guatemala.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 15,000

Geographic areas served: Guatemala

Programs: Child Nutrition Clean Water Diabetes Language Revitalization Rural Health Services Women's Health Prenatal Care Publishing

Community Stories

102 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a repeat donor to Wuqu' Kawoq, and I could not be happier with the organization. Over the past few years I have seen first-hand how effective their programs are. Unlike some other Guatemalan NGOs, Wuqu' Kawoq is widely respected in the communities they serve, and for good reason: they offer high quality medical services in a linguistically and culturally responsible way.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Spending a week with Maya Health Alliance in Guatemala was one of the best weeks of my life as a nurse and a human. The amount of value, safety and quality they get out of their dollars is astounding. And when they meet a barrier, they figure out a cure not just a band aid. Language is the perfect example. Because there were no words in the Mayan language for diseases and treatments that we now need words for, they went to the Mayan Language Society and helped get the words created for diseases such as Diabetes i Mayan.
"A mile deep and an inch wide" is their philosophy. So what I saw were long-lasting life-changing relationships, treatments, and programs that impact individuals and families to the very core. MHA's vision and and mission is extremely well-defined, specific, narrow, realistic and they stay well within this vision. They know they cannot fix everything for Mayans but know what they can do best and are committed to the long road. Where others say “no,” we say “yes.” That is a beautiful thing to do for a people so disrespected for so long.
Agile Health Care (the process of creating high-quality health solutions rapidly,
by allowing healthcare providers and patients to work in a collaborative, communal environment) was a new term for me as a nurse and nurse educator for many years. I feel deeply in love with the concept and think the Mayan Health Alliance has to be an international leader in this type of care. If a donor is wanting a big bang for their buck, this is a place to put your money as they do NOT spend it on buildings or salaries or fancy dinners. They spend it where it counts.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Guatemala is saturated with NGOs. At times it is hard to know what impact and benefit these organizations have in the communities they serve. However, Wuqu' Kawoq is unique in the sense that it offers personalized care to patients in their preferred language. They ensure that patients are comfortable and understand. They also measure their impact, they have numbers to show how each of their programs are progressing. They work to break down the problems often associated with NGO work in order to be sustainable and beneficial to the communities of rural Guatemalans.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a volunteer with Maya Health for almost a year. The staff were welcoming and compassionate. They formed trusting relationships with patients.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's such an honor to work for this organization. The teamwork is incredible and the impact that Maya Health is making in the lives of so many is outstanding.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq goes above and beyond to ensure that patients receive the care they need and deserve. Specifically, Wuqu' staff members provide care that is culturally-relevant and in the language most preferred by patients. They make sure that they are constantly evaluating their impact through research and close communication with the communities that they work with.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to Wuqu Kawoq after studying International Development in college. During that time, I learned about the significant problems associated with foreign aid and international non-profit work, in particular poorly thought out projects and a lack of cultural competency. For these reasons, I have come to learn that the majority of international development organizations have very little positive impact on the communities they hope to serve. The Maya Health Alliance administrative team is well aware of the common problems associated with non-profits and have worked diligently to create a model that circumvents these shortcomings and creates a measurable impact with cultural sensitivity.

Stephen Alajajian

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work for Wuqu' Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance, a home-based provider of medical services to rural Guatemalans, as a nutritionist. Wuqu' Kawoq programs and services are provided in local languages. The quality of care is some of the best in Guatemala. Wuqu' Kawoq staff are dedicated and committed to our mission of providing high quality health care to those who would otherwise face significant barriers to accessing it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I work for Wuqu Kawoq on a research team and have had a phenomenal experience in my three months in Guatemala. My coworkers are extremely supportive and I have learned a lot about health and research outside of the United States.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wuqu Kawoq is a culturally aware NGO, with healthcare provided to indigenous Maya Guatemalans by indigenous Maya Guatemalans. Working for Wuqu Kawoq is a great experience because every member of the team is passionate, enthusiastic, and committed to providing quality, evidence-based care to the most marginalized populations in Guatemala. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to live and work amongst the doctors, nurses, scientists, anthropologists, nutritionists, and administers who dedicate their days to providing equitable, high quality healthcare in rural Guatemala.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I was fortunate to have been on the Vision Trip for the Mayan Health Alliance. We had time to spend with Anne and Peter, the inspiration and directors for this organization. We spent 4 days doing home site visits, meeting the patients and their families, the care providers and hearing the stories, seeing health assessments being given and education provided.

What is unique about this organization is that they have looked at each barrier and created specific ways to overcome them from creating medical words in the indigenous Mayan language to educating local illiterate women to provide advanced health assessments and communicate with advanced technical devices. The international research and quality improvement projects done in this organization are being shared both with other local health organizations and NGOs but also other international organizations spreading the knowledge gained.

The Mayan Health Alliance Vision Trip has replaced my skepticism and anxieties for the health of our world with hope and a belief that answers can and are being found.

Judy, Registered Nurse and Nurse Educator, Carbondale, Colorado

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the good fortune of volunteering with this organization for seven months from the fall of 2016 through the spring of 2017. As other reviewers have noted, Wuqu' Kawoq is unique among NGOs in its focus on providing healthcare services in patients’ native languages, commitment to strengthening Guatemalan public institutions and other non-profits engaged in similar work, ability to conduct research, and general transparency. What is less readily apparent and what I came to most appreciate about WK are the organization’s continual effort to improve itself as it grows and its investment in local staff. For example in my time at WK, weekly meetings to discuss new cases and research were instituted, and improvements to the electronic medical record were made. Staff members received training on topics ranging from blood pressure control to contraception, and three traveled internationally to present work. Wuqu’ Kawoq is remarkable in that it seeks to be an ever adapting model of excellence in its relationships with patients, communities, staff, and peer institutions alike.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Doing some amazing work with healthcare for indigenous people. Their work is much needed and well-organized.

Rosa8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The most enriching experience so far!. I have around 6 years of work experience for profit organizations and I have never seen employees that passionate as I saw in MYH. They simply enjoy what they do, no matter what sort of adversities of challenge they might face. They know that their work is changing the life of many indigenous people.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I personally know employees at Wuqu' Kowaq and have seen first hand seen their commitment to improving healthcare access to Maya communities in Guatemala. I had the pleasure of serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama with an employee of Wuqu' Kowaq and saw his drive and desire to help impoverished individuals not only in his community but throughout the country. Having an employee like my colleague from Panama speaks volumes of Wuqu' Kowaq. I know for a fact that he brings this same commitment to his work in Guatemala and will continue in the future. Role: Professional with expertise in this field

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wow. Where to start. I can say from my experience working at Wuqu' Kawoq and then speaking with other volunteers at NGOs around Guatemala that WK sets itself apart. Through the populations they are focusing on, their high standard of care, their collaboration and integration with communities, their commitment to their staff... todos! Their staff is 95% Guatemalan and well-trained, they commit to their patients for life, and they do not shy away from complex cases (diabetes, cancers, malnutrition, etc.). The work environment is organized and supportive. They focus on research as well and publish their findings so that others can benefit from their knowledge and expertise. Can't say enough good things about this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer with Wuqu' Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance and I could not speak more highly of this organization. I have been able to see first hand, through working in the office and going out in the field with their doctors and community health workers, the amazing work they are doing to reach the most marginalized populations in Guatemala. Wuqu' Kawoq health workers always speak to patients in their native language, whether that is Spanish or one of the Mayan languages, and treat their patients with a great deal of compassion and respect. They travel hours into rural areas to provide patients with life saving medical care. I have seen children lifted out of malnutrition through Wuqu' Kawoq's intensive nutrition program, and diabetes patients spared a life with disability through the organization's provision of expensive medications at no cost to the patient. Additionally, Wuqu' Kawoq is continuously conducting research in women's health, nutrition, diabetes, and many other areas to improve their programs and further contribute to global health knowledge and program development.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the incredible care that is provided by the professionals at Wuqu Kawoq to rural Mayan communities in Guatemala. From the experience first hand, I have now become a regular donor and enjoy following the phenomenal work that this organization is doing for the poorest of the poor in Guatemala.

Stephen63

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A lot of great work by this group on the ground in Guatemala. They are dedicated to providing healthcare in the native language of many indigenous peoples in the mountains and rural areas of the country. I went with a group of physicians and students from Cincinnati, and we had great support from the administrative staff and wonderful interpreters. Great people working to fight the lack of adequate healthcare for indigenous peoples in Guatemala.

Family Medicine Physician from Cincinnati

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In a developing world inundated with well-meaning development efforts, it's wonderful to come across a model that is well-informed, adaptive, responsive to feedback and outcomes measurements, culturally humble, and committed to excellence in building capacity, improving health, and promoting last change. I have extensive experience in global health around the world, including long-term work, and am thankful for the model and work of Wuqu' Kawoq.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This past winter I observed at Wuqu' Kawoq for college credit. I was blown away by the organization's commitment to their mission. They serve an unbelievable amount of patients with a wide range of effective, quality care. They treat patients as unique individuals, and so their treatments, too, are uniquely individualized. The large majority of the staff at Wuqu' Kawoq is Guatemalan and they continue to hire more locals to help in their mission. Everyone either speaks Kaqchikel or is taking classes, which is one way they promote the revitalization of indigenous culture. Their dedication to transparency is unmatched by any NGO I have experienced. If there were any one NGO that could create true, long-lasting social change, this is it!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been a pleasure to work with Wuku' Kawoq through my university. The organization is incredibly well-run, and it is obvious that the staff are deeply invested in and committed to the success of the mission. I saw firsthand some of the work they are doing in rural communities, and patients and families were so grateful, sometimes to the point of tears, for the care they were receiving.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As someone that has acquired experience with nonprofits in the US and abroad, I have been impressed with Wuku' Kawoq. They have been able to successfully negotiate many barriers to health care and operations in Guatemala and provide exceptional service to their clients. The staff knows and reflects those they serve and they are organizationally sound, avoiding the chaotic operations that plague many similar nonprofits. From top to bottom, their staff is dedicated and the families they serve really do benefit and appreciate their service. I hope to continue to work with WK in the future and do what I can to further their efforts.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq is an organization truly focused on improving the lives of the patients it serves and the communities it operates within. As a board member, I can say from personal experience, that members of the organization consistently think long and hard about how to utilize time and resources to make the most important impacts.

1 Brittany A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq is an authentic, dedicated and ethical organization. They are a passionate and driven group people whose roles range from physicians, nurses, and nutritionists to anthropologists, teachers and community health workers who are all working together towards a common goal. I had the privilege of spending nearly two weeks in Tecpan, Guatemala, working closely with Wuqu' Kawoq as a member of their first large group of medical professionals. Immediately upon arrival, I knew that this was the organization we had been looking for in a partner. It was clear that this organization was different from others I had worked with in the past, in so many ways.

The leadership was clear from the start about their values and intentions: first, to provide high quality health care to those who need it most. Second, to provide care that is culturally relevant and provided in each patient's own native language. Finally, to create sustainable change that meets the needs of the whole person and whole community. These values were upheld throughout our entire trip. Throughout our stay we went out to each day to different communities in which Wuqu' Kawoq is already trusted and well respected. The fact that patients we had never met were willing to open to us and share very personal information spoke to the trust that is already established in these communities. We went with community health workers who live and thrive in the very communities in which they serve- which reinforced the importance of autonomy and independence that are so often lacking in the field of global health. We were not pressured to focus on the numbers and see as many patients as possible, but rather to provide the highest quality of care possible. Each patient was provided care in their preferred language, as we worked alongside some very passionate and dedicated interpreters. Not only did we feel that we were providing care for the short term, we truly felt these patients would be well-cared for in the long-term. Wuqu' Kawoq has a system in place for follow-up care, specialty referrals, and well-rounded health education and nutrition programs- and I cannot stress enough how significant this is.

I was truly blown away by the quality of our experience and by how well cared for we were during our stay. We were kept safe, and our hosts worked extremely hard to work alongside us for long hours each day to provide our patients with excellent care. They taught me so much about Guatemalan culture, and about the provision of ethical, culturally relative health care in an under-resourced setting. I hope that we can maintain a strong relationship and partnership with Wuqu' Kawoq for years to come!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My students and I recently were involved on a trip with this organization. They could not have been more open and sincere about their mission to help indigenous people gain access to quality healthcare. The community health workers affiliated with Wuqu Kawoq were amazing in their compassion and eagerness to learn. Everyone we encountered could not have been more helpful in the information, education and insight they provided.

I've been on similar trips for the past 13 years with different NGOs in various countries. This is one of my best experiences in terms of mission, organization and safety. It is the overall best in the desire to provide quality continuity of care to those who are often hesitant to seek healthcare due to difficult but understandable reasons. This was striking to me in contrast to some groups who focus on quantity of people seen over either quality or continuity.

Anne's expertise in evaluating NGOs in the past is a huge asset, as is her passion and dedication. It was a pleasure.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to work with Wuqu' Kawoq through my university. I traveled to their different village clinic sites and worked with their Community Healthcare Workers to provide medical/pharmacy care. They are caring, informative, and genuinely invested in the well-being of the Indigenous Mayan people. They have a solid, sustainable plan that focuses on building trust and bringing quality healthcare to people who would not receive care otherwise. It was a privilege to work with them. I hope I have the opportunity to go back and work with them again.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a pharmacy student who recently worked with Wuqu'Kawoq in Guatemala for 12 days with a group of medical residents and pharmacy students. During our time there, we worked with the doctors, nurses, translators, and other members of the NGO on the ground to provide medical care to about 250 patients in different villages around the country. We also identified difficult or complex cases for the organization to follow up with after our visit was over. I was extremely impressed with how much trust and respect the native Guatemalans had for the members of Wuqu'Kawoq; this is a relationship they have built over almost 10 years of working with members of the community towards sustainable and comprehensive healthcare. I feel that, in combination with this organization's efforts, during our trip we were able to make a real difference in the lives of the Guatemalan people.

Beth157

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with a medical brigade from the University of Cincinnati. Wuku Kawoq is a genuine organization that does what it says. Furthermore, they took great care of us while we there. Most of the meals were delicious, and we were always escorted to where we were going. Kate even had our laundry done while we there. This org definitely goes above and beyond for their community and those that help them serve it!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq has created a service like no other to the Mayan community within Guatemala. I experienced this first hand when I volunteered as a RN/Nurse Practitioner Student this past October (2015). I was part of their first medical brigade not by lack of coordination or ability of this 8 year old organization but because they have waited until it was a thoughtful gesture. It seemed as though they wanted to establish a repoire (of which they were very successful) before they plopped American healthcare into the mix of things.

Their work with the "prometoras", or community workers, is outstanding. They have truly committed time and effort into training people of the community to care and manage for their own. While I was there, I had the opportunity to work with many of these heart warming people and educate them on health promotion topics. It is apparent how well this shows the worth and value that Wuku' Kawoq instills into the people it wants to help.

The greatest work of this organization comes in the form of language. They have incredibly skilled translators that speak the indigenous Mayan languages as well as Spanish and English. This delivers the care in the most appropriate and compassionate way possible. Those who only speak the indigenous languages now have access to a form of healthcare that was before unattainable due to a language barrier.

Another impressive feature of Wuqu' Kawoq is there persistence with having an electronic medical record for their patients. This means that the patient has documented care, a history of visits that can be refereed to by providers, and creates efficiency for the patient. Again, their dedication to long term care for this community resounds within their actions.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the great opportunity to work with Wuqu' Kawoq for two weeks in Tecpan, Guatemala. I spent that time working in rural villages with Wuqu' Kawoq's "Saving Brains" program, which provides nutritional assistance to impoverished children in order to support their proper mental and physical development. I also worked to improve Wuqu' Kawoq's internal tech systems, to better support the organization's growing operational demands. Every day, I was newly impressed with the dedication and passion of the team there, who manage to bring much-needed medical support to so many people in a rural setting and that is quite operationally complex. I have worked with or observed a number of international NGOs in my life, but have not seen one as effective in bringing medical support to those most in need as Wuqu' Kawoq.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I committed to work as the Complex Care Coordinator for 1 year with Maya Health Alliance | Wuqu' Kawoq starting in April 2015 .

Before beginning with MHA | WK, I thought I understood the limits of what medical organizations are capable of achieving in a rural setting in Guatemala. I had worked with several NGOs within Guatemala previously, and believed that some barriers to accessing healthcare are too extensive to overcome.

How wrong I was. Nothing could have prepared me for how impressed I am and how proud I feel to be a part of the MHA | WK team. This organization goes above and beyond in terms of patient care. They GO to their patients - via (a combo of) car, bus, boat, on foot - sometimes taking hours just to arrive at one patient's house. Why? Because they understand that the hardest patients to get to, are those most in need of care. Why else? Because in these communities there is no way to understand the fundamental reasons behind a patient's condition and be able to effectively treat that condition, without seeing where and how the patient lives. MHA strives to deliver quality care that exceeds not just Guatemalan standards, but US standards. They work within and alongside the government healthcare system to fill the holes that usually block the indigenous population from receiving care. To this NGO, patient care is more than just a consult and follow-up at a clinic. It is about facilitating trust and partnership with the patients. Cultural sensitivity is an integrated peice of their model, and all employees - both local and extranjero - learn to speak the indigenous Mayan language of the patients. MHA strives to build capacity and empower the local communities to take control of their health and of their lives.

Furthermore, they publish! MHA | WK has run many empirical investigations and has shared their results with the global health community. Even though their focus is in Guatemala, they understand that conditions and diseases present here are examples of larger global health issues.

There has never been a dull moment in my 6 months of working for this NGO. I recommend anyone and everyone to take a look at this organization, because they are truly the most cutting-edge NGO offering healthcare services in Guatemala.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance is truly unique in the NGO field. The focus on patient rights and patient dignity, especially with respect to culture, is second-to-none. I have never seen a team so dedicated to working within local indigenous languages and bringing healthcare to those that truly need it most.
In my time as a volunteer, I have gotten to see how hardworking all the staff at WK is. The on-the-ground team comes to work with passion and enthusiasm every day, traveling to remote communities--and often walking hours in the mountains--to bring health care directly to our patients. What is truly amazing is the accompaniment that WK emphasizes. We stay with our patients from beginning to end, helping them navigate confusing hospitals and long trips to receive care, always having an open phone line for communication, and taking those extra minutes to understand a patient's life.
Working with Wuqu' Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance is an incredible opportunity to see global health work at its best!

1 PeterCoochMD

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a pediatrician from San Francisco that spent 7 weeks with WK this summer--two weeks studying Kaqchikel and 5 weeks working with their malnutrition and complex pediatric patient care coordination. I have never been more impressed with an organization--especially the dedication, skill, and diversity of their staff. WK is carrying out some of the most innovative, culturally progressive, and comprehensive healthcare outreach that I believe exists in global health today.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As you can see with all the other glowing reviews, WK does terrific medical and public health work in some of the neediest areas of Guatemala by placing a high value on linguistic competence and respect for the patients they serve. These reviews also show one of their other great strengths-- building a coalition of smart people who care deeply about providing quality care to poor, indigenous, and marginalized Guatemalans. The staff, volunteers, and interns work tirelessly at tasks that can seem Sisyphean in this context, whether that be reversing the effects of chronic malnutrition, managing complex diabetes, or accompanying cancer patients through a sea of red tape. And they're able to achieve amazing results. I am constantly impressed and inspired by WK's work and plan to continue to support them forever.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am continually humbled and inspired by the work of Wuqu' Kawoq, an organization that places high value on respect and compassion for everyone involved. They speak the language of their patients and they treat them as humans who deserve the best care.

I had the pleasure of interning with WK for close to a year, and during my experience, there was always something new that impressed me, whether it was the amazing dedication each staff member exhibited in their mission to providing the best health care to their communities, or the gratitude and sincerity each patient demonstrated for the concept of care - a concept that is so simple, yet is often more of a privilege than it is a priority.

I watched as a staff member would get up at 4 AM so that she could help her patients arrive at the public hospital in Guatemala City for complicated surgeries, waiting with them in the lobby, and accompanying them as she could, so that she could act as a mediator and translator between the patients and the doctors, whom often don't speak the same language.

I watched as another staff member would visit her patients in their homes to check up on them, to educate them, and overall to just care for them as human beings. I watched as she spent time understanding the needs of her patients, often spending hours at a time with each one. I walked with her for an hour to get from one house visit to the next, in a rural community where people have to walk two hours just to reach the nearest grocery store.

I listened as patients would tell me the difficulties they have navigating their own health care system, the ways in which they face discrimination, and their simple wishes to be able to live happy and healthy. Often, these patients are indigenous and come from rural communities, where they are not able to access health care resources easily. More than that, they are not able to access these resources in their own native language. They feel uncared for and unheard in their own country. The sad matter of fact is that the word "indigenous" could be the difference between receiving health care and not.

On behalf of the patients, I'd like to say thank you to WK. Thank you for caring for them, and thank you for making their voices heard. There aren't enough people in the world who understand how important that really is.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As an intern with Wuqu' Kawoq over the past few weeks, I am left most impressed by the level of dedication and compassion that the team members have for their patients. With high expectations for every role, whether someone was responsible for leading group classes, providing services for patients, or following up with patient home visits, I saw competence in both the services provided, as well as the approach that they were done. At the same time, this organization establishes relationships with other organizations and community leaders in every place they put their roots. As a medical student, I have learned so much on how to not allow yourself to compromise on the quality of services provided in a low-resource area. Neither heart nor skills were sacrificed.

1 Michelle281

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have served on the board for two years and am deeply impressed by how Wuqu Kawoq has clearly identified its mission, and delivers help that targets fundamental causes of health problems for the communities it serves. Donations are incredibly well used by this group, with its low overhead and smart approach to building healthier communities.

2 Samantha61

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Wuqu' Kawoq over the summer and had a fantastic experience. From start to finish, Wuqu' Kawoq was extremely organized and every single staff member touched my heart. They are an extremely dedicated, compassionate group of people. I admire the work that they do in Guatemala and would recommend this organization to anyone.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a Board member for Wuqu'Kawoq for several years and wish to say how incredibly and continually impressed I am with this organization, its leadership, and the work it does. There are literally thousands of NGOs in Guatemala, many of them focusing on health, but only a small handful address important health issues in ways that are sustainable and sensitive to the culture and language of the people they serve. Wuqu'Kawoq is one of these. It take anthropology and linguistics as serious as it does medicine. Let me give you just one example. One big problem in rural Guatemala is diabetes. A bigger problem than access to meds, however, is education: most people do not really understand the disease, what it is or how medication and diet can help them combat its effects. These things can be explained in Spanish, sure, but most rural Guatemalans do not speak Spanish, they speak a Mayan language. Wuqu'Kawoq staff speak these languages; moreover, to address the problem, they consulted with local Mayan linguists. In the end, they actually created a new word for 'diabetes' in the Kaqchikel language to replace the Spanish borrowing that was in use. The word they used translates directly to 'sweet blood.' This word has now allowed them to explain clearly to diabetics what is wrong with them (they have 'sweet blood') and how to make their blood 'less sweet!' People who have had the disease for years are finally understanding it! And that is allowing them to address their own illness! There are dozens of other examples of WK's amazing and unique effectiveness in addressing such issues (including many women's health issues, child malnutrition, complex surgical procedures, etc.). It is why I have given thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of my time over the years to this organization and will continue to do so as long as I am able.

1 Haley Rhodes

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a current research intern with Wuqu' Kawoq in Tecpan, Guatemala where I am completing my thesis research. The longer I work for WK, the more proud I become of this organization. In fact, I am always so glad when someone asks me about WK because it gives me the opportunity to share about their wonderful work, dedication to ethical practices, and heart to reach those who often slip through the cracks.

Reasons why I am impressed with WK:

1. Dedication to understanding the communities in which we work: Interns are asked to study history, literature, and a Mayan language. In my experience, this context has allowed me to understand the why the communities face the problems that they face and by learning Kaqchikel, I have shown the community that I am here to learn, not to bulldoze my way into the community. We also are able to communicate with patients who may speak "trade Spanish" but may not be able to communicate about a complex health issue. As I have talked with other NGOs in Guatemala, I have learned that this type of in-depth preparation is rare and I have seen that it limits the effectiveness of their intervention programs.

2. Exceptional staff: I am proud that the vast majority of WK staff are Guatemalans who speak indigenous languages and that all staff members are exceptional teachers and team-players. I have been warmly welcomed into the WK family where I continue to learn every day from my co-workers. My experience with WK has allowed me to be independent, but also well supported by the staff.

3. Collaboration with communities and other NGOs: WK actively engages community leaders and women's groups as well as seeks partnerships with other NGOs so that we can be the most effective as possible and not duplicate services. In a country with over 15,000 NGOs (and unfortunately many are poor managed), WK takes the most challenging cases that other NGOs are not equipped to provide services.

I am thrilled that I was referred to WK by a professor and I plan to continue to work with WK.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a family physician practicing in rural Vermont. After 30 plus years, I wanted to give my time to a third world country that needed help. My wife, who is a neonatal resuscitation instructor as part of her job as an Obstetrical nurse, accompanied me for a week with Peter Rohloff, MD, PhD and his fabulous team in Guatemala. We worked hard giving instruction to the midwives and seeing patients in Diabetic, Pediatric and general Medical care clinics. After the week was over and we had a chance to breath, we both could not believe how wonderful Wuqu Kawoq is with it's group of caring and dedicated professionals. What separated them from many NGO's is continuity. I was warned that some NGO's will just see patients and leave for 6 months. Wuqu Kawoq had the organization on the ground to be there on a daily basis for the folks that used them for their medical care. In addition, they were involved with nutrition and clean water. The Noble peace prizes were just announced and the two recipients deserved it. But, I would not be surprised if Wuqu Kawoq gets it some day.

Joanne40

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Wuqu’ Kawoq over this past summer of 2014. I cannot speak more highly of this wonderful organisation. I was thoroughly impressed by the work Wuqu’ Kawoq is doing in the communities. As this was my first time volunteering in Guatemala, I was especially impressed by the hard working, knowledgeable and caring staff, who literally work around the clock, to ensure their communities are getting the health care services they need in a respectful and culturally-sensitive manner. I was also highly impressed by how hard Wuqu’ Kawoq is working at supporting and creating relationships between communities, other organisations, local and state government to ensure the needs of the communities they serve. As someone who wants to work on global health care issues in the future I have to say this was an amazing introduction to the field! I hope to work again with this wonderful organisation!

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a Board Member for the past 2 years, I continue to be extremely impressed with Wuqu' Kawoq ,the dedication & skill of our entire team in Guatemala and their ability to make an extraordinarily positive impact on both individuals and the entire communities within which we're fortunate to work. My wife and I have prioritized our own giving by making a significant multi-year financial commitment to Wuqu' Kawoq. We believe deeply in the organization and its ability to make a sustainable positive contribution to the well-being of so many Guatemalan women, children and men. We're most touched by the respect with which our staff treat community members to ensure that they receive the excellent care that they deserve, delivered in their maternal language (Maya languages). I'm looking forward to accomplishing even more in the years ahead, especially with the help of our committed Donors.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Wuqu' Kawoq as a dental hygienist in January of 2014. A local pediatrician asked me to get involved offering oral health education, applying fluoride varnish and cleanings for children. I was thoroughly impressed with WK and I am eager to be involved in the future. This organization has an amazing variety of health care and nutritional services they offer for free. They care about the people they are serving as evidenced by their relationships. Their record-keeping and continued re-care is very important. Six months after we were there the midwives were applying fluoride varnish for the second time. I was delighted to see the level of commitment to oral health and their determination to see improvements. It was an honor to be involved with such a great organization.

JorgeLB

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work as advisor at Patzun Municipality, a local government in Guatemala.
We started working together with Wuqu' Kawoq' on 2011 when they decided to organize the event "Encuentro Futuros Colectivos: creando redes en Guatemala" in the Municipality.
The event was great because the number of presenters, the quality of then, the logistic and so on.
But another thing I was to enfasize is the profesionalism how they work and then compromise with the community.
After that event we organized also a Mayan Languajes Meeting two years ago and now we are preparing the next Encuentro Futuros Colectivos for this year.
So, thank you very much to all the people involve on Wuqu' Kawoq' projects!!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with Wuqu' Kawoq was my second international health-related experience, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. I witnessed their commitment to improving patient lives through community capacity building and services in the first language of their patients. The importance of their holistic cultural and linguistic approach to health cannot be understated. My summer spent in rural Guatemala inspired me to make global health a central pillar of my career and I aspire to do so while working with the committed and brilliant staff of Wuqu' Kawoq.

Volunteer

Rating: 5


I am one of the doctors that works with Wuqu' Kawoq

Since medical school I have worked with many different health NGOs in developing countries including Ghana, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Chile and was been repeatedly disillusioned by global health work until I found Wuqu' Kawoq. The time I spend working with the organization has been so rewarding because there are the resources and infrastructure to provide high-quality care to my patients (not just "better than the medical care they would have received').

The term "community driven" is often used in global health but the work of Wuqu' Kawoq is truly determined by needs expressed by the communities with which we partner. I have also never encountered a group of people as dedicated and hard working as the staff of Wuqu' Kawoq.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a Guatemalan with healthcare experience in rural settings, I could say there is no other NGO in Guatemala that provides high quality health care in Maya languages. Outstanding organization!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Initially, I wanted to volunteer with Wuqu’ Kawoq – Maya Health Alliance because I desired more experience working in global health, and I had heard great things about the organization at my medical school. Before collaborating with Wuqu’ Kawoq, I’d been working on various health projects in Latin America for about 5 years. However, I hadn’t made a long-term commitment. My amazing volunteer experience -- especially the forging of bonds with staff, patients, and community members -- has compelled me to work with Wuqu’ Kawoq beyond my original year-long commitment, and I plan to continue collaborating with WK on nutrition and chronic disease projects over the coming years.

Rebecca74

Donor

Rating: 5

there is no other substantial healthcare program in Guatemala that addresses medical needs in Maya languages. we know that our gifts go directly to the individuals and have seen a major difference in the lives of the communities WK serves.

Molly24

Donor

Rating: 5

As a donor I am happiest about their impact on early childhood and women's health. Their exucation campaign is inspiring. Their facebook updated help me understabd exactly whet their doing and personalize their efforts by providing pictures of classes, heath care checks and villagers.

1 bairdc

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had the privilege of volunteering for Wuku' Kawoq: Maya Health Alliance for the past four years, and I keep coming back for a reason...they know what they're doing.

WK's unique blend of in-depth, mixed-methods ethnographic research and their policy of providing excellent health care free of charge to those who need it most has made, and continues to make, huge differences in the lives of people who are still recovering from the structural effects of a decades-long genocide and centuries of structural racism.

Their approach is unique in the area, and uniquely effective. I've seen the data myself (I'm a PhD student in applied anthropology); their success in ameliorating childhood malnutrition alone is well worth a five-star rating, and they do so much more than that. In my time with them, I have seen them successfully treat diabetics, amputees, ophthalmology cases, cleft palates, congenital heart defects, various cancers...the list goes on and on. In addition to arranging and providing free health care to those who truly can't afford it, WK acts as patient advocates in a world where the non-Spanish speaking indigenous individual is all too often swept aside.

I can't say enough about the beauty of their politics, their ethnography, their nutritional interventions, their hands-on care, and their research. As far as I've seen in the past four years, they've excelled in everything they've attempted.

If you're truly interested in making a difference, if you want assurance that your money goes directly toward changing someone's life for the better, in the most efficient way possible, without being re-routed through administrative chains and lost somewhere in the process (which is the case with so many NGOs in the area) you could not choose a better NGO than WK.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq, in my experience, stands alone among Guatemalan NGOs in its commitment to both linguistic and cultural competence in every single one of its endeavors. Every project that I have seen them take on, and every individual within the organization, is consistently striving for excellence...a rarity in a world where the catchphrase of many non-profits is "most anything is better than nothing". Spanish is not the first language for many Guatemalans-- this, combined with a pluralistic medical system and often extreme structural constraints can make decent health care an impossibility for a large part of the population. WK's commitment to providing excellent care in Spanish, Kaqchikel, and Quiche, as well as their long-term ties to many communities, and their commitment to solid ethnographic research can-- and has-- meant the difference between life and death for many individuals, and given the organization's trajectory, will mean life and better health for many more. I am currently training as a medical anthropologist, and my first introduction to WK was three years ago, during preliminary dissertation fieldwork and language training. Since then, I have only grown more impressed with the organization and with the individuals involved, and I plan on continuing to work with WK throughout my graduate studies. Wuqu' Kawoq is a blend of pragmatic healthcare and applied anthropology that I had only once hoped existed...and I feel privileged to be a volunteer for such an excellent and unparalleled institution.

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1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered and worked with Wuqu' Kawoq since 2009 and the work they do is truly amazing. The dedication of their staff to the communities they serve is unmatched, and their commitment to collaboration and cooperation with other NGOs and Guatemalan entities is the key to building a more efficient, comprehensive service network in Guatemala.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first started working with Wuqu' Kawoq in February of 2009. At that time I volunteered in two of their clinics. The first in San Juan Comalapa at a clinic partnered with ACOTCHI a group of local midwives, and the second in Tecpán. In both clinics I shadowed Dr. Peter Rohloff and Dr. Malcolm Hill to observe the logistics and process of providing health care in a persons first/indigenous language. In addition I maintained the pharmacy, and provided other additional services as needed. I was very impressed at the level of trust Wuqu' Kawoq has been able to build within the communities they work. There is a clear and obvious difference in the reactions of patients when they are able to express themselves in their native language. I am currently working as a field intern in Guatemala and will be here for a full year aiding in many of the current projects. The majority of my time will be spent helping to create a clientele base of local women for a women's sexual and reproductive health service and education program we hope to have implemented in 2011. This will include point-of-care testing for STI's, HIV, and cervical cancer, as well as sexual/reproductive health education classes, and access to contraceptives for no cost to the patient.

1 ixkawoq

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i first worked with Wuqu' Kawoq three years ago as a student in their language field school. The language training I received from Wuqu' Kawoq has allowed me to complete research in Kaqchikel communities. I was so impressed with the breadth of their work that I expanded my role to include volunteer in both their language and nutrition programs. WK genuinely serves the communities in which it work.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

I have participated in Wuqu' Kawoq's language school which focuses on not only language learning, but also cultural competency. As part of the school i was able to witness the excellent work that WK does, especially with children and midwives. Providing medical care in a person's first language is essential for positive health outcomes. WK does this, but with a level of care and compassion that is unsurpassed. The enthusiasm of volunteers and project participants speaks to the importance of their work. Wuqu' Kawoq is truly a great nonprofit.

1 Jillian M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been affiliated with Wuqu' Kawoq for the past two years and have participated in two language schools, nutrition research in two small communities, and pilot health research on Lake Atitlán. Based on my observations and experiences, I believe the NGO to be exceptional for four main reasons. First, they take the time to learn about the places where they work by talking to community leaders and residents. Second, they collaborate with community members to develop sustainable projects that will not deteriorate once US staff leaves the country. Rather, Wuqu' Kawoq helps the communities to run these programs themselves. Third, they actively seek to collaborate with other NGOs and government entities in Guatemala. Rather than offer services already available, Wuqu' Kawoq finds its role and plays that role extremely well, for instance, in providing accompaniment to extremely ill patients that other NGOs meet in medical missions throughout the highlands. Finally, and most importantly, they provide all services in the languages spoken by these communities so that patients may communicate directly with their healthcare providers.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq is a non-profit organization that works to strengthen the health and language of Kaqchikel Maya communities in Guatemala. They are dedicated to serving the people of these communities in their native language, Kaqchikel, and to address public health problems identified by community members. They have trained indigenous midwives, started child nutrition programs, installed water purification systems, and writing diabetes education materials in Kaqchikel. This organization has helped so many people and, with more funds, has the potential to change many more lives.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of volunteering with Wuqu' Kawoq, helping out with several clinics. Even though I don't speak a second language, it was obvious the difference the doctors and staff were making. To see the time and care given to each patient was amazing. Although I haven't seen them in action since then, I've been a recurring donor since. I believe strongly that my donation is used thoughtfully and effectively. I love the patient updates and newsletters!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wuqu' Kawoq partners with communities to make a difference in people's lives, and not only that, but they coordinate with many other organizations in order to improve the complex network of NGOs in Guatemala. Good work, WK! Thank you for what you do.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been tracking Wuqu' Kawoq's success over the years and it's one of the most impressive non-profit organizations I know. It is extremely focused and community-driven, and its diverse staff are knowledgable and helpful.

LauraPH

Board Member

Rating: 5

This is a unique organization that does it's work thoughtfully and respectfully. It is fully deserving of our support!

1 Tony13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Over the past two years, I have worked with Wuqu’ Kawoq on clean water projects. They have always shown themselves as an organization with a firm understanding of the people they are helping. The Wuqu’ Kawoq staff in Guatemala I have met through volunteering have been a great pleasure to work with and were very focused on community involvement. It is clear that communities are being improved and community members have great trust for the organization. Personally, the time I spent working with Wuqu’ Kawoq had a huge impact on my perspective on development work.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been coming to Guatemala and taking note of Guatemalan affairs for 30 thirty years now since 1980. There are many excellent NGO (non-government organizations) in the country that are doing fine work for and with the most impoverished and disenfranchised of the population, which frequently are the Indigenous Maya who make up more than half the total population of the country. 500 years of colonization, has kept and continues to keep the people impoverished. The work of Wuqu Kawoq is truly unique in its mission and approach to meet the needs of the People on their own cultural and language level. How novel and caring to find such people. My granddaughter (indigenous from Okla/ Kans) had hoped to assist as a volunteer during our current time here (July~Oct.5, 2012), but it did not materialize.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Such a great organization doing incredible work. I have not helped in Guatemala, but I have assisted in some administrative, resource development and fundraisng work (I have spent nearly 2 years living and working in Guatemala since 2002/18 months consecutive in 05-06). I'm mostly interested in working with people with disabilities, general health and clean water projects. All are things that WUQU KAWOQ is involved in. I am planning a trip to Guatemala next year and won't leave the country without visiting WK projects in-country. This organization is vital to the people it serves! I've recommened this group to several people who are traveling to Guate.

JoAnn R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

These volunteers are doing a great job and are making a difference.