Anastasia attended a WINGS clinic to receive a cervical screening, and advanced abnormal lesions were discovered. WINGS referred her to our partner organization APROFAM to receive a colposcopy, which will determine the kind of treatment she will need. WINGS paid for the colposcopy and will also cover the cost of any future treatment that Anastasia might need. This is her story.
In early May WINGS came to my village to do womb exams [cervical screenings]. The comadrona [traditional birth attendant] in our village told us about the clinic and I wanted to have the exam done because I have been feeling very ill – sometimes I have a lot of pain my womb. The WINGS nurses were very kind and patient, and they answered all my questions. I like how they treat us - they speak to us in our own language [Q’ekchi] and they don’t treat us badly or differently in the way that some health workers do.
When they finished the exam I felt very scared and sad, because the lady said I would have to go to APROFAM and have another examination because there is something wrong with my cervix. Today I travelled to the APROFAM clinic with my neighbor – we left our village at 7am and travelled in a minibus to get here. I am very grateful to WINGS for helping me. I was supposed to come to the APROFAM clinic a few days ago to be examined, but because I didn’t have any money I couldn’t attend. I went to the national hospital to try and get treatment but they said that they don’t offer the exam that I need.
WINGS called me to ask why I hadn’t gone to the APROFAM clinic, and said they would help me to get there and pay for the exam. You don’t know how grateful I am for this support. I didn’t know how much it would cost and when I saw the nurse from WINGS pay the fee I felt very grateful, but I also felt bad that I couldn’t pay for it myself – I would never have been able to save up Q200 [$25]. WINGS also helped me with the transport costs, and the nurse stayed with me while the doctor did the exam. On July 17th I will come back to get my results.
I was pregnant eight times, but only six children survived. I never used family planning although I would have really liked to – perhaps if I had had fewer children then two of them wouldn’t have died. However my husband wouldn’t let me use family planning. I am very worried because my husband doesn’t believe that I am ill. When I tell him that I don’t want to be with him [have sex] he gets angry and says that I have another man and that I only stay with him because he maintains me.
I am really grateful to WINGS – you are amazing and I hope that God blesses you and everything you do. I don’t know what to say because thank you isn’t enough. I will remember the kind staff forever, and to the donors who live far away I would like to welcome you into my humble home if you ever want to come to my country. I will greet you in my own Mayan language because I never went to school and I don’t speak Spanish very well. May God bless you and reward you for every woman that you help.
WINGS provided Foundation Against Hunger with training in the themes of Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Celia was one of the employees who participated in this training. Celia is a thirty four year old single mother of two, and she talked to us about her experience of the workshop she received from WINGS.
“Before the training started, I was worried because I had never taken part in anything similar, and I didn’t see how it would be helpful to me as I am only the secretary. Now I am grateful to God for the opportunity I was given, because I learned so much. Sometimes the knowledge we have and the things we believe are wrong, and now I feel more comfortable with these themes and am happy to have taken part in the training.
The way the training was done was great – you are not aware of time going by because you are so engaged with the workshop. My coworkers and I felt really comfortable, and didn’t want the training to end. I commend WINGS staff for the language [Note: WINGS’ delivers trainings in Spanish and/or a Mayan dialect depending on the language used by the audience] and methods that they used, which made the information really accessible to all of us. I hope that they are able to replicate their work with many more organizations.
I have never used birth control and anything that I knew about it was from comments or stories that other people had told me. Now I know so much more, and have already made use of the training. For example, I shared some of the things I learned about family planning with my parents, brothers, and sisters. They were surprised because, just like me, they had believed many myths about family planning. They say that they want to learn more, and that they are interested in using a family planning method themselves.
Many of my doubts have been resolved. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, my husband had a vasectomy. They explained to us what would happen in the operation, but many people say that vasectomies turn men into womanizers and cause them to leave their wives. I have always been worried that this is why my husband left us, but now I know now that every person makes their own choices and that using a family planning method does not make a person leave their family.
My coworkers are also very happy to have received the training, and what impressed me most was how mature everybody was during the training. Nobody made jokes or used inappropriate words. We have since talked about how ignorant we were before and how we have a duty to share what we have learned ourselves with the communities in which we work. Although this is difficult to do, it is important that others have the opportunity to learn like we have.
I have made a promise to myself to keep learning more about family planning, and to share what I learn with my parents and my siblings. I still have many relatives who I have not spoken to about family planning, and I want them all to know what I have learned, because it is so important to our lives.
I am an evangelical Christian and in my church there are many women. I feel that it is my duty to speak to them about the methods that are available so that if they choose to have sex, but do not want to have a child, they can make healthy, responsible decisions and use a family planning method.
I hadn’t heard about WINGS before this training, but now I pray that God blesses WINGS so that this work can carry on, because it is really helping communities in Guatemala. I am going to pray for WINGS’ donors, and I hope that they get a chance to see the work that WINGS does.
Mariana is the mother of three children and when she was pregnant with her first child her husband started to drink heavily. Also while pregnant, she discovered that both she and her husband had the human papilloma virus. Mariana recently took the decision to leave her husband due to his alcoholism and ongoing infidelity, and came to WINGS to receive a cervical screening. At the clinic we discovered abnormal lesions which we treated using cryotherapy as well as providing antibiotics for a secondary sexually transmitted infection. Because of Marina’s history of HPV we have referred her for a cervical colposcopy with one of our partner organizations. In situations like Marina’s, WINGS covers the cost of follow-up examinations, treatments and transport fees, and wherever possible we accompany the patient on medical visits.
Mariana told us:
“Because I had HPV before, I wanted to know how I am now, but I was ashamed and scared to get examined at the public clinic. I had been very shocked and frightened when the doctor told me how you get the illness [it is a sexually transmitted infection] but I was too shy to ask him any questions. I heard that WINGS would be coming and so I came today to get an exam. After hearing the talk that WINGS gave before the clinic I understood better what human papilloma virus is. The talk was very easy to understand and I felt comfortable because it was delivered by women and they spoke to us in our own language [Q’eqchi]. The doctor who first told me that I had HPV didn’t explain anything to me and I didn’t understand what it meant, but now I understand that it can cause cancer of the womb and that it is important to get tested often. Bringing clinics and family planning to communities is a great help for us.”
“The women who examined and treated us were very kind and gentle, and they can’t imagine how grateful I am. Finally I will be able to know whether I am healthy and move forward with my life.”