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PASTORAL DE LA PRIMERA INFANCIA (PPI)

A Pastoral Program of the ICM Sisters in Guatemala that engages several mission partners. - shared by Sr. Evie Vazquez, icm

 

Whenever a missionary adventures with the people in a new project or any action that favors the well-being of all, especially children, many take interest but only a few radically commit themselves to be pastoral agents, as it demands time to be spent for others. Yet  as time goes by and those committed persevere, fruits are seen and  gradually others join in and accept to be  trained.

This is the case of the  “Pastoral da Criança” as it is called in Brazil, where it was started in 1983 by Dr. Zilda Arns ,who died in the Haiti earthquake,  during a meeting with seminarians, priests and bishops precisely about this child care pastoral program.  In Brazil  thousands of volunteers continue her work.   Here in Guatemala it is called “Pastoral de la Primera Infancia” (PPI) and it started in the municipality of San Lorenzo in the department of San Marcos in  2005  by Sr. Anita Frantz, a Brazilian from the Franciscan Sisters of Penance and Christian Charity.   

PPI 1

In the parish of Santo Hermano Pedro,  in the village of El Durazno where Marleen and I are living, we started this pastoral program in 2013.  At present we have 15 pastoral agents who were trained with  10  one-day workshops by the Archdiocesan team.   In July 2013 we had the thanksgiving mass and mission sending for the 12 new agents  (including myself)  By November 2013 we had 29 families registered in the program with 34 children from  0 to 6 years of age.  A second group of mission partners were trained after a year and in another eucharistic celebration were sent to their mission in June 2014. In December we had 41 families and 57 children registered in the PPI.

Every first saturday of the month we have an evaluation meeting and reflection with the 15 pastoral agents. We start off with a prayerful reflection sometimes led by me as parish coordinator and other times by any of the pastoral agents. We  share about  accomplishments, difficulties, and how the house visits are coming along.  At the end we fill the HABS sheet (Hoja de Acciones Basicas—sheet of basic actions which has 30 questions about the children and the mother).  Together with the agenda sheet of this meeting, the signature of each agent, the HABS sheets are sent to the Archdiocesan team.   They recheck them and then send them to the national team in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.  Then off to Brazil they go, the world headquarters of PPI. 

Every third saturday of each month we have what we call “La Celebracion de la Vida” (Celebration of Life) for the families under the PPI program.  We have prayers, songs, and a discussion from the Agent’s Manual. More mothers attend because many of the husbands work until mid-day on Saturdays.  A small snack is also served for all.  We conclude with a prayer by anyone of the agents or a mother who volunteers.  This is an ongoing and non-stop apostolate every first and third Saturdays of the month.  In between these, we have the home visits by the agents.

At one time we had two young women doctors to share with the PPI on two important topics:  “The Prevention of Breast Cancer” and “How we should Treat our Children.”  Mothers normally breastfeed their babies.  The doctors taught the mothers how they could examine themselves and detect signs of breast cancer.  Probably due to the poverty in which many live, the stress of not having work for long periods of time, and so many other stressful situations, parents could be a bit rough with their children.  These two topics shared by the doctors who collaborated with us were very appropriate indeed.  We were quite appreciative for this intervention and the interest our people had in learning more about life.

ppi 2ppi 3    ppi 4

Anyone who wishes to collaborate and work with us we consider as mission partners.  These are persons who take up interest and feel they are also a part of God’s mission in ICM.  These two  doctors who will graduate next year had been boarding in the ICM district house in Zone 12 while they had their practice in the national hospital in Guatemala city. They expressed their gratitude in being able to share in this activity.

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