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.”
WINGS continues to focus our activities on Alta Verapaz, a region of Guatemala with exceptionally high levels of poverty, child malnutrition and maternal mortality. In 2013 alone, thousands of women and families have been supported with accurate and empowering information on family planning and access to a range of contraceptive methods. However, every day we are reminded of the great and ongoing need for our services, as Maria's story demonstrates:
"My husband and I were happy that the WINGS clinic was coming and I would be able to get the little sticks [sub-dermal hormonal implant] put in my arm – we had talked before about not having more children but until now we didn’t know where to go to get the medicine. I have five children living. Two months ago my youngest child died; while I was pregnant, I fell out of a pickup truck that was still moving and was dragged along the road. I went into labor and they rushed me to hospital, but the baby was too small and he didn’t make it. I almost died as well because the birth was very difficult. I asked the hospital to operate on me so that I wouldn’t have more children, but they said that I would have to buy some of the supplies for the operation, and I didn’t have enough money."
"Today WINGS did a pregnancy test and it was positive – I am really, really sad. I don’t want to have any more children and I don’t know what to do. It isn’t that I won’t love the baby, but the problem is that we are very poor – my husband is an agricultural laborer and I feel very sorry for him because he has to work from dawn until dusk for very little money. The money he makes doesn’t go far and everything is getting more expensive. Our children are still very young and we did not want to have another baby, but we will keep struggling on. I hope to God that WINGS returns so that I can get the little sticks put in my arm and take care of myself after having the baby. I can’t have any more children - I feel very ill and I am scared of dying and leaving my young children without a mother. There are many more women like me who need these medicines so that they don’t keep getting pregnant."
Candelaria, 38 and the mother of 5 children, had never heard much about family planning methods before. “If I had, I wouldn’t have so many children,” she explains.
In March, she took a one hour trip in the back of a pick-up truck to attend a WINGS mobile clinic after a a community leader stressed the importance of attending since there had never been any family planning related outreach in their area before.
After receiving information from WINGS and weighing her options, Candelaria decided to have a Jadelle inserted. The sub-dermal implant will protect her from unintended pregnancies for up to 5 years.
Candelaria is very grateful. “I do not want to have any more children. Family planning will help me and my husband give more to each of our children, and maybe even help me live longer. If WINGS hadn’t come to my community, I never would have had this opportunity.”