ALIANZA is a non-profit, rural community health project in Comitancillo, San Marcos, Guatemala.
Founded in 2005 by a small group of dedicated volunteers from Nanaimo, BC, Alianza consists of a volunteer board of directors, now based in Ontario, and a staff of six Guatemalans implementing the programs in Comitancillo.
In Guatemala, although a public health system does exist, it is so underfunded that hospitals regularly run out of supplies. Patients must pay for their own lab tests and medications (even while in hospital), and for some of the equipment required for their surgeries. In 2016, to save money for the Ministry of Health, emergency rooms were closed down on a rotating basis around the country, leaving patients and ambulance crews (mainly volunteer firemen) scrambling to find an emergency room accepting patients. To be seen by a specialist as an outpatient, people line up starting at dawn, take a number, and hope that they are seen before the office closes at noon. If you cannot afford to pay for private health care, your health is at serious risk and many people struggle with what should be preventable illnesses and complications from injuries.
After a year long needs assessment in 2003-2004 in which we spoke with health care providers, teachers, and community leaders, the Alianza Board of Directors raised about $40,000 and the first clinic opened in 2005 on the second floor of a rented building in the centre of town -- open daily, and surrounded by the noise and organized chaos of the markets on Wednesdays and Sundays. Many Canadian volunteers came down to help that first year.
Alianza Mission StatementTo contribute to improvements in the health and education of the population of the Municipality of Comitancillo through long-term, community-directed programs. Alianza is committed to a collaborative approach which values community input in all aspects of our projects and is respectful of the cultural context in which we are working.
VisionWe are working toward a future in which people in Comitancillo have the same level of access to education and health care in their own community that we enjoy in Canada.
ValuesAs an organization, we value:
- Decrease the frequency of complications from common illnesses to avoid serious illness and preventable deaths.
- Enable promising students to complete high school, vocational training, teacher training and degree programs (scholarships).
- Provide families with access to safer, more efficient cooking stoves fueled with less wood