Mechanical cow brings needed nutrition to children in Guatemala

By Narayan Murarka, Suzanne Gibson, Mary Holcomb, and Mark Gibson, Members of the Rotary Club of Barrington Breakfast, Illinois, USA

At 54%, Guatemala has the highest malnutrition index in children younger than 5 years of age and has the highest chronic malnutrition index in Latin America and the Caribbean. Malnutrition in children increases the risk of decreased cognitive development and slows down their overall growth. This is a serious problem, mainly in rural areas of Guatemala.

The Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club in the United States partnered with the Rotary Club of Guatemala Sur in Guatemala to combat malnutrition for children and establish microenterprises for women through mechanical cow projects.

A mechanical cow is a machine which processes soybeans, water and steam to produce a slurry that can be separated into soy milk and a solid byproduct called okara.  The protein-rich soy milk and okara help combat malnutrition.

The first machine was installed at the Proximos Pasos Girls School in Santa Maria de Jesus which serves about 250 girls. This was followed by the addition of two machines in the town of Sumpango serving over 1000 children.

Finally, we partnered with the Rotary Club of Guatemala Asuncion to install five more machines.  These machines will be operated by five independent cooperating organizations at five different locations.  A local Rotary club will oversee each of these organizations.

The soy milk generated from these eight machines will collectively serve more than 4,000 children to alleviate their malnutrition condition.