Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

From Guatemala, with Love

Posted by Len Gilbert on May 21, 2009

Piedmont High School Graduates start a scholarship program in Rabinal, Guatemala and bring back letters of hope and gratitude

After witnessing the dismal health conditions faced by Guatemalan families living in poverty, Piedmont High School 2004 graduates Michael Bakal and Amy Yam founded Voces y Manos por el Derecho a la salud (Voice and Hands for the Right to health) an organization dedicated to addressing health needs in Guatemala.  They began their work in 2007 by coordinating community health fairs that provided comprehensive preventive and curative health services.  But when they heard Guatemalan Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu declare: “it is not until we have more Indigenous doctors and nurses who speak the language of the people will health conditions truly be improved”, they realized they had to broaden their vision.

Heading Menchu’s call, Voces y Manos established a scholarship fund that has assisted Guatemalan youth embark on the academic journey to careers in nursing, education, and medicine.  The community health fairs have thus become a springboard to something much greater: an opportunity to inspire local Indigenous youth to bring health to their communities.

Voces y Manos is hosting an open house event at the Kehilla Synagogue—1300 Grand Avenue—in Piedmont On Sunday, May 31st, 2009 from 4-6pm. The Bay Area community, along with current and past sponsors, are invited to attend.  Letters from scholarship recipients will be read by Piedmont Middle and High School students, light refreshments will be served and all will be invited to enjoy items in the Guatemalan art and artifacts display.  You will also get a chance to hear what Voces y Manos and partner organizations have planned for this summer.

If you would like to bring art or artifacts from Guatemala, or to share your own story about the human right to health please, contact Lisa Gardner-Event Coordinator at 510-867-9221.  For more information, to volunteer or to donate to Voces y Manos go to www.vocesymanos.org or contact Michael Bakal at michaelbakal@gmail.com.

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