Former Hall of Fame Award Recipients Join Forces to Help Mothers & Children in Guatemala
In 2005, Dr. Jerry Haag was named the Young Alumnus of the year. Thirteen years later, Jimena Tejeda won the same award at the 2018 Hall of Fame dinner.
By providence, Dr. Haag and his wife Christi were at the dinner, this time accepting the George W. Truett Distinguished Service award, and they were introduced to Jimena. Their initial meeting was brief, but months later the Haags were in Guatemala with One More Child, the nonprofit Dr. Haag leads, and met Jimena for dinner. What has resulted from the meal is the beginnings of an impactful union on behalf of the malnourished in Guatemala.
As a native Guatemalan, Jimena Tejeda has always had a heart for serving others who call Guatemala home. It wasn’t until she came to Baylor to pursue her master’s degree in nutrition sciences that she decided exactly what that would look like. From assignments in her master’s program, Jimena found a passion for maternal and infant health, breastfeeding, and pregnancy. She eventually began to volunteer and work for the Texas Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants, and Children. As a WIC nutrition specialist, Jimena evaluated mothers and children to ensure they were healthy and advised them on their diet, something she felt would be useful for the people of Guatemala.
Upon returning to Guatemala, Jimena started Healthy Beginnings, an initiative similar to what she had done with WIC, to support nutrition throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding, post-partum health, and the nutrition of children in their first five years. “Here in Guatemala, we have one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world . . . in children zero to five. If I can [have] an impact, it’s going to be a lot more in Guatemala than in the U.S.” Part of what contributes to the high malnutrition is the lack of breastfeeding in Guatemala, something Jimena is looking to change by educating and empowering new mothers to use breastfeeding instead of formula, when possible. She has already seen breastfeeding rates rise in the hospitals in which she works, but the next step for Healthy Beginnings is to reach more women and children.
Across the Gulf of Mexico, Jerry and Christi Haag lead One More Child, an organization focused on serving families both in the United States and abroad through foster care and adoption services, anti-trafficking work, orphan care, and ministering to the poor and underserved. The couple met at Baylor, and both feel certain their time at the university was providential in shaping how they have been able to serve others through their vocations. “I learned so much at Baylor that influenced the calling on my life for ministry because I was a business major, but through the deans, faculty there, [teaching] that uncompromising component of being a Christian business person,” said Dr. Haag. Christi similarly felt that call to serve children as an education major. After spending time in the for-profit world, Jerry served as president and CEO of the South Texas Children’s Home in Beeville. In 2007, the Haags made the move to Lakeland, Florida to lead One More Child.
Since Dr. Haag has been president, One More Child has grown to serve children globally. Their presence in Guatemala began in 2008, with their work with the Malnutrition Center in San Juan. Now, besides malnutrition, the One More Child is active in child sponsorship in the country, as well as anti-trafficking work. Because of their commitment to the people of Guatemala, the Haags and One More Child have formed a relationship with First Lady Morales. Out of that partnership, One More Child will host a national child anti-sex trafficking conference with the first lady in an effort to continue to love the vulnerable in Guatemala.
When the Haags met Jimena a year ago at the Hall of Fame dinner, they all three knew they could partner to have an even bigger impact in Guatemala. Going forward, One More Child is hoping to partner with Jimena and Healthy Beginnings to use her expertise on child malnutrition and maternal health in their malnutrition center. Their goal is to reduce child hunger in the country and to inform and empower women about the options they have when it comes to feeding their children. Both Christi and Jerry Haag and Jimena Tejeda exemplify Baylor’s mission “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service,” and the Baylor Line Foundation is honored to have named Jimena and Jerry as 2018 Hall of Fame award recipients.
If you would like to support the mission of One More Child and learn more about the work they do, visit onemorechild.org.