Simajhuleu was founded in 1902 by 6 families, and it has grown to 700 families, or approximately 4,340 residents. The community is located 7.5 miles north of the municipal seat of Comalapa. In the Kaqchikel language, “simaj” means “stake” and “huleu” means “land.” Half of the population is Catholic and half is Evangelical, and they have one Catholic church and 11 Evangelical churches.
Agriculture is the main productive activity in the village and they grow primarily corn and beans, but also coffee, raspberries, sweet peas, and potatoes. Some people work on larger farms and get paid about $5.00 per day for their labor.
The community has a primary school where nearly 500 children attend kindergarten through sixth grade. A secondary school serves 150 students in grades 7 through 9. Simajhuleu also has a health post that is open from Monday through Friday, which offers very basic medical attention and vaccines. Nearly all (98 percent) households have electricity, and 85 percent of the roads are dirt. Daily public transportation is available to Comalapa.
ALDEA and ABPD began working with 120 Simajhuleu families in July 2019. Our goal is to reduce chronic childhood malnutrition now, while supporting the community in building their capacity to address further development challenges on their own into the future. We are working together on:
- Water, Sanitation & Hygiene: A potable water system, sanitary latrines, gray water filters, and efficient vented stoves will reduce the risk of gastrointestinal diseases and improve indoor air quality, improving health and allowing children to make the most of the nutrients they consume. These projects are currently under construction, with completion expected by February 2020.
- Family Planning: We provide training and family planning methods so that women and men have the opportunity to decide the number and spacing of their children. Work began in July 2019 with completion expected in June 2021.
- Community Mobilization & Empowerment: Trainings and activities with men, women, youth, and local authorities began in July 2019 with completion expected in June 2021.
- Nutrition Education: Trainings and activities began in July 2019 with completion expected in June 2021.
- Food Security (Sustainable Agriculture): Trainings and activities began in July 2019 with completion expected in June 2021.
- Disaster Risk Reduction: Activities will begin in February 2020 with completion expected in June 2021.