Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty

Feb 10, 2011

Meet Luciana: A WINGS Beneficiary


Luciana, a 38 year-old housewife, lives in a remote Guatemalan village with her husband and their 5 children.  Scarce jobs and limited access to farm land in their region make it a daily struggle to put food on the table; any more children would prove an impossible strain.

Luciana had not been able to access family planning services until a WINGS nurse came to her community to give a reproductive health and family planning charla, or talk. There, for the first time, Luciana learned about the importance of family planning and the types of methods available. Afterwards, she spoke privately with the WINGS nurse to discuss her options and understood that because of her age any more pregnancies could prove dangerous to her health and that of the child. Luciana took a family planning information sheet home to look through with her husband, and together they decided that a tubal ligation would be their best option. Normally, this simple operation would not only be too expensive for women like Luciana, but also unavailable to her rural community where health services are severely lacking. Fortunately, WINGS was able to guide Luciana to one of their subsidized tubal ligation clinic in a neighboring town a few days later. After a safe and successful operation, Luciana and her husband can now focus on taking care of their existing children with more security for the future.

Oct 11, 2010

This Week Your Support Will Go Further!

A WINGS talk about family planning
A WINGS talk about family planning

Dear Friend,

WINGS is excited to have been invited to participate in GlobalGiving’s last matching challenge of the year.  This is the perfect opportunity to make your generous donation go further in support of WINGS’ efforts to provide Guatemalan women, men and youth with access to family planning education and services.

Here’s how it works: for every donation that you make to our family planning project,, between TODAY and October 21st, GlobalGiving will match your donation by 30, 40 or 50% - the larger the donation the greater the matching amount!  If we raise the most donations we are eligible for a bonus award of $1,000.

With the highest birthrate in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, the importance of providing women, men and youth in Guatemala with access to family planning education and services is as pertinent as ever.  Nearly 1/3 of all pregnancies in Guatemala are unplanned and 1/2 of all women in Guatemala have a child by the age of 20.  The result is that 1 in every 2 children in Guatemala suffers from chronic malnutrition and every year thousands of Guatemalan women die from unsafe abortions or birth-related complications.  Such tragedies are completely avoidable. Indeed, its costs as little as $7 to provide a woman with a year’s worth of birth control pills.

For nearly ten years WINGS has been at the forefront of improving access to family planning education and services to women, men and youth in Guatemala.  Working in low-income, rural and indigenous communities, WINGS provides family planning information through educational talks and financially subsidizes family planning methods for those most in need.  WINGS also trains community family planning promoters who act as resource individuals, providing both information and a range of affordable contraceptive methods in very rural areas.  In 2009 alone WINGS reached 14,903 people through educational talks and provided 23,171 temporary methods.     

You can help ensure that WINGS continues to provide these critical services TODAY by participating in GlobalGivings’ Give More, Get More Challenge and by sharing this message with your friends. A donation of just $50 will be matched at 30% and provide 9 women with one-year’s worth of protection from unwanted pregnancies.

Thank you for supporting WINGS and for helping to improve the lives of women in Guatemala.


The WINGS Team

P.S.  To see where WINGS ranks in the competition, click here.

Mother and daughter listen to WINGS talk
Mother and daughter listen to WINGS talk


Sep 8, 2010

WINGS’ Founder makes a home visit

Mariela and her two daughters
Mariela and her two daughters

WINGS’ founder, Sue Patterson, recently visited the home of Mariela, a former WINGS beneficiary who chose to have a tubal ligation a few years ago. Here is what Sue learned about Mariela during her visit:

Together with her two daughters aged 7 and 9, Mariela lives in a house made out of cornstalks and cardboard, which is precariously placed on a muddy mountainside. Her house was severely damaged during tropical storm Agatha last May, but has since been rebuilt with more cornstalks and cardboard. Mariela and her mother make and sell stuffed peppers, earning between the two of them about $6 dollars a day. Given the adversity she faces, when Mariela lost her third child to meningitis four years ago she decided to have a tubal ligation. While her family opposed the operation, Mariela decided for herself that she did not want to have any more children and went ahead with the procedure. Not having to care for any more young children has been very liberating for Mariela, who is currently enrolled in night school where she is studying the 7th grade. She now has aspirations to become a psychologist, so she can help others who have gone through difficult times. While Mariela’s situation is still precarious, she is now able to focus on improving the situation for herself and her two surviving daughters. As the story of Mariela highlights, the opportunity to limit one’s family size can change the course of entire families, enabling them to direct precious and scare resources to improve their lives and that of their existing children. Thanks to your generous support, more families in Guatemala will have access to essential family planning services that make a real difference in their lives.


The WINGS Team

Jun 15, 2010

Double Your Impact on Wednesday, June 16th!

WINGS educator giving individual counseling
WINGS educator giving individual counseling

Dear friend,

I am writing to let you know about an exciting opportunity to double your impact and help to ensure that all women in Guatemala have access to life-saving reproductive health services.

On June 16th, GlobalGiving will be matching all online donations at 50% (up to $1,000 per donor) to WINGS’ project Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty. In addition, GlobalGiving will award a $1,000 bonus to the project that raises the most funds that day and a $1,000 bonus to the project that receives the largest number of individual donations!

Why should you care? When a woman is able to plan her family, the opportunities that open up for her and her children are immense. She is more likely to enter the workforce and live a healthier life, and her children are more likely to attend school, become educated, and find employment opportunities. Despite the tremendous benefits of family planning for women and children, less than one-third of couples in Guatemala use any form of modern contraception, and another one-third of women report that they want to plan their families, but lack access to vital reproductive health information and services. The results are devastating for Guatemalan families. Half of all women in Guatemala have a child by the age of 20, severely limiting a woman’s opportunity to finish school and gain employment, and all-too-often, women risk injury or death because they do not have the resources to properly space or limit their pregnancies.

What is being done? Since 2001, WINGS’ family planning education and reproductive health services have reached more than 120,000 women, men and adolescents in Guatemala. By providing women and their families in Guatemala with the tools they need to take control of their reproductive lives, WINGS has helped thousands of parents to more fully invest in their children’s education and nutrition, helping to end the cycle of poverty. How can you make a difference? Donate on June 16th to our project Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty on GlobalGiving and your donation will be matched at 50%. Consider the tremendous impact your GlobalGiving gift will have on the lives of women:

- A donation of just $20 will be matched at 50%, for a total donation of $30 - enough to cover the cost of 2 Jadelle implants, which provides women with up to 5 years of protection from unwanted pregnancies. - A donation of $50 will be matched for a total donation of $75 – enough to cover the cost of tubal ligations for 5 women. - A donation of $100 will be matched for a total donation of $150 – enough to cover the cost of a year’s supply of birth control pills for 20 women.

In order to ensure that WINGS is able to continue to provide these life-saving services, make a donation today and pass this email onto your friends and family.

Our heartfelt thanks for your support of WINGS and for helping to improve the lives of women in Guatemala.


The WINGS Team

WINGS educator gives a talk on family planning
WINGS educator gives a talk on family planning


Mar 22, 2010

A Postcard from WINGS in Guatemala

In February, six GlobalGiving donors traveled to Guatemala for a week of exploration, cultural submersion, and welcomed visits to four GlobalGiving projects.

One of these projects was WINGS where they focus on family planning, detecting and treating cervical cancer, and youth programs. To catch a glimpse of how this organization works read on! Two travelers wrote accounts of their visit where they describe what they got out of their tour of the project.

“First to WINGS in Antigua. Oooof. Family planning in a country where children are a sign of a man's power and sexual prowess and the Catholic church outlaws birth control? They are doing amazing work educating not only women about their options, but they have a youth program as well as Men's education - not only discussing reproduction, birth control, anatomy but also the proper way to treat people in relationships. Fostering respect in an attempt to curb what is a tragic widespread acceptance of domestic violence against women. It's important to keep in mind that the subject of peoples’ bodies and anatomy is completely taboo. The girls there don't play soccer because they think that their uterus will drop if they run?! So treading lightly and garnering respect first in the community is paramount to their success. They can't just barge in and talk about birth control or they would be shunned.

…So although WINGS only operates in two regions, they are making impressive headway and are growing rapidly as an organization. I wish there could be 12 more such organizations to cover the rest of the country!”

And another!

“Over half the population in Guatemala is under 18. Guatemala has the third highest rate of child malnutrition. The average Guatemalan woman has 5 children, this is even higher for the poorest families. The staff at WINGS can tell you all about the statistics but you just need to look around to see the reality. Family planning is nearly unheard of in this region and the environmental impact cannot be underestimated. Founded by Sue Paterson, a former consulate general and Peace Corps volunteer, WINGS is addressing this issue head on with amazing passion and respect. The staff at WINGS works in communities by recruiting and educating local women to help share information with her peers. WINGS also provides cervical cancer screening, which began as a way to provide a forum for women to talk privately with a doctor, but which has blossomed into a wonderful program which provides screening, treatment and follow up for women with cervical cancer. There is also a very active youth group and a men’s program. We visited a workshop for teens, the kids were so eloquent and passionate about WINGS, there is no question this organization has made a huge difference in their lives.”

And just in case you’re curious about the rest of the trip and where they were headed after WINGS:

“Almost every day in Guatemala brought us to projects which are doing important work for the people of Guatemala. This is a country devastated by decades of war, which suffers all of the consequences of crushing poverty, especially in the rural areas. Although I often felt disheartened to learn of the high rates of child malnutrition and low rates of education, projects like WINGS, which promotes family planning through education and improving women's health; the vocational school being built from recycled tires and plastic bottles by Long Way Home; and the community-run lending libraries facilitated by the Riecken Foundation, were terrifically uplifting. We repeatedly met enthusiastic people committed to doing good for the poor of Guatemala in culturally sensitive ways, which was the perfect antidote to the feeling of sadness or hopelessness that comes from hearing bleak statistics and seeing people living with so little.”

To check out WINGS’ project page go to:

Or if you want to explore the other visited projects: -Long Way Home, Inc., ( -Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc., ( -The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc., (

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Antigua, N/A, Guatemala

Project Leader

Annie Keel

Development Coordinator
Antigua, Guatemala

Where is this project located?

Map of Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty