Survive and Thrive

A program that saves the lives of mothers and babies and prepares children to learn and thrive in life.


This program addresses significant gaps in maternal and child health:

  • High maternal and infant mortality
  • Poor nutrition in pregnant and nursing mothers
  • Chronic malnutrition and stunting of children
  • Inadequate stimulation of infants and toddlers
  • Reduced mental and physical capacity of children

Taken together, these issues make it virtually impossible for Guatemalan children to grow and develop properly during the formative years of life. The impact becomes obvious when they start school, unable to learn and acquire skills for life.  These challenges are most acute in the rural Western Highlands region, where traditional Mayan culture adds another layer of complexity to the situation.


These challenges are primarily linked to a lack of knowledge of maternal and child health:

  1. Midwives, who attend more than 70% of births in rural Guatemala, are not trained to identify high-risk pregnancies or to refer patients when complications arise. Most maternal and infant deaths are preventable.
  2. Mothers, families, and communities do not understand some of the basic principles of good nutrition. Instead of healthy meals, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and families consume processed foods and high sugar beverages.
  3. In Guatemala, the critical importance of stimulation is not well-understood. Parents need to learn that their children’s brains and bodies develop and grow when they’re stimulated during pregnancy and the first five years of life.


The program is simple, yet incredibly effective. It’s all about educating midwives, mothers, families, and communities on basic health practices to ensure children survive birth and then go on to thrive in life.


Midwives are trained to detect risk factors early and refer the mother to a health care facility to reduce preventable deaths. The training, facilitated by a licensed nurse, takes 10 months, with each month focused on a specific risk factor. Between classes, the nurse visits the midwives in their communities to make sure they are using their training. Upon graduation, each midwife receives a new supply kit.


Midwives, mothers, and communities learn about the importance of nutrition in the development and health of young children, but also in teenagers, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. Qualified practitioners provide the training right in the community using innovative and practical techniques that maximize learning and application


Midwives, mothers, and communities are taught about the importance of timely stimulation for the physical and mental development of young children, and how this is key for them to succeed at school and have access to better opportunities in life.

How Your Gift Helps!

Your support will save lives and build a better future for individuals, families, and the nation of Guatemala. Thanks to some generous donors who pay all our overhead, 100% of your gift will be sent to Guatemala.

Meet a Few of the Midwives

Lucía Ticún Morales has been a midwife for 16 years.

Catarina Carrillo Mejía has been a midwife for 22 years.

Candelaria Calel Morales is 70 years old and has been a midwife for 50 years.

A Local Champion

Marshall Smith joined us on an Umoja Journey through Guatemala. Here’s how he’s giving back to the cause…

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International Needs Canada

Toll-free: 1-888-702-9805
230-1119 Fennell Ave E.,
Hamilton, On, Canada, L8T 1S2
Charity Number: #12994 3072 RR0001