Puente Association was legally constituted on May 9, 2009.
Puente was established to give continuity to the Creciendo Bien Program developed by the Social Work Secretariat of the President's Wife (SOSEP) during the government of Lic. Oscar Berger (2004-2008) to prevent Childhood Chronic Malnutrition (DCI). Under the leadership of Mrs. Wendy de Berger, at the end of the government period, the program reached coverage in 4,000 communities with the participation of 160,000 women and their families. Wendy de Berger is currently the Honorary Lifetime President of Puente. We are called Puente because we are facilitators and we accompany women and their families who are the protagonists in the prevention of DCI in their children in their communities.
According to the lessons learned during the government, the program was restructured to be a comprehensive care model, recognizing that the problem is multi-causal and the solution must be raised by addressing the different needs that provide a healthy environment for the integral development of the child. The program was called “Aprendamos Juntas” and it consisted of two phases: “Cómo vivir mejor” and “Cómo generar ingresos”. This model was implemented from 2009 to 2018.
In 2018, the different activities that were developed in the program were reviewed and evaluated and those that had the most impact on the results were chosen. In this way, the program was redefined and renamed “Dando la Talla”: Community education program on child nutrition and development. This program focused attention on pregnant women and children under two years of age, a period known as the “Thousand-day Window”. This group was defined as the target population and they were mainly addressed by home visits and personalized counseling, although the community training included women of reproductive age and children under 5 years of age. This new version of the program was implemented in 2018 until March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic occurs and the home visit by field technicians is no longer possible, weakening the strategy. To confront the situation, educational and visiting and counseling activities are stopped and agricultural activities are maintained to ensure the families' nutrition through orchards and chicken coops.
On December 15, 2020, the Alliance for Nutrition (APN), of which we are founding members, signs an agreement with the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) to implement the program “Acompáñame a Crecer” which establishes Community Centers for Comprehensive Child Development (CECODII) in communities prioritized by high rates of DCI and poverty. This program was created in 2018 in MINEDUC with the support and accompaniment of UNICEF. Because the MINEDUC program is similar to the strategy that Puente has been developing since 2009, the Board of Directors approves the implementation of the "Acompáñame a Crecer" program, adding sanitation, economic and agricultural activities to the program to accelerate the results according to our experience.
In this way, starting in 2021, Puente redirects all its efforts and resources to the establishment of Centros Nútreme, which is the name that Puente gives to its new comprehensive care program for early childhood from gestation to 4 years of age. The program is presented to our donors who approve the implementation in all the communities of the Municipalities of San José Poaquil in Chimaltenango and in Santa María Cahabón in Alta Verapaz. The program begins its implementation with the hiring of itinerant educational managers by Puente and their training on the Acompáñame a Crecer program given by MINEDUC and UNICEF. In the second fortnight of October 2021, the inauguration of the Nútreme Centers will begin and by the end of 2021 at least 16 centers will be established in each municipality. The commitment is to have full coverage of the program in these two municipalities, to begin with, and the objective is that soon in these municipalities all the children will be Growing Well as we dreamed of in 2004.