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!”
“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: www.globalgiving.org/2394.
Or if you want to explore the other visited projects:
-Long Way Home, Inc., (wwww.globalgiving.org/2402)
-Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc., (www.globalgiving.org/3666)
-The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc., (www.globalgiving.org/3339)
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