A ring of volcanoes surrounds Lake Atitlan, making the pueblo of Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala only accessible by boat.
Homes are built into the sides of the volcanic mountains, preventing families from having the space for gardens. The nearest town with a market for fresh produce requires a boat ride across Lake Atitlan.
Women and children in traditional dress gather near the church in Santa Cruz’s town square.
The World Health Organization ranks Guatemala’s children as the fourth most malnourished in the world. This has a significant impact on their ability to grow and stay healthy.
The children gather at a church before the afternoon's Las Mariposas program begins.
The girls test their homemade jump ropes. They made and decorated the toys as one of the program’s art projects.
Patricia Preston, a teacher, leads an excited group of students through a lesson on why it’s important to brush your teeth. The program is designed by teachers and nutritionists in the United States who volunteer to travel to Santa Cruz and work with the children.
The craft projects are built around materials that are easily found in the pueblo. Items like rope, empty snack bags and discarded bottle caps become jump ropes and art materials.
Esperanza leads the class through an activity on the food pyramid. While Santa Cruz remains a difficult place to reach, junk food is pervasive. Some mothers put cola in their infant children’s baby bottles because they confuse the spike in attentiveness that comes with a high dose of sugar and caffeine with it being nutritious.
Many of the lessons are taught through art projects and songs, giving children a way to relax and providing a better way to retain information.
Maria stokes the fire as she cooks tortillas for her large extended family. Because fruit and vegetables are expensive and the market is almost an hour trip away on foot and by boat, most families survive on less expensive and less nutritious options.
Fresh tortillas are still a diet staple in the pueblo.
Maria’s grandson cleans the family’s grill. The family cooks in their open courtyard in front of their modest two-room home.
The children learn some basic yoga poses as a way to exercise and reduce stress.
The children learn the difference between soap that should be used for washing hands, washing clothes and washing dishes. People in the pueblo routinely use dish soap and laundry detergent to bathe, which causes a painful skin condition.
Students trace each other to create life-sized cut outs that are used in lessons about the body.
Dawn Deeks is a photographer who works with nonprofit organizations to document their stories and share them with the world.