Rebeca leads the workshop
Each month, Maternal Child Health project coordinator Rebeca Sosof leads an educational workshop for mothers sponsored through the project. During each session, Rebeca introduces a new strategy mothers can use to keep themselves and their young children healthy. This week, the topic was vaccination.
“I wanted all of the mothers to walk away having learned this: vaccines are important because they prevent dangerous diseases,” says Rebeca. “I want mothers to be aware of the risks of failing to vaccinate their children, and I want them to be able to make an informed choice about vaccination.”
One of the greatest barriers to vaccination in and around Santiago Atitlán is misinformation. Many families are worried that vaccines will hurt their children, or give them the very same diseases they are designed to prevent. The local rumor mill is full of frightening myths about vaccines, especially those administered to very young children.
Rebeca leads this workshop to set the record straight. “Vaccines wake up your child’s defenses so that they can fight off disease and grow up happy and healthy,” she explains to participants. “Your child may experience a mild reaction, but that’s because the vaccine is provoking something in their body—it is asking their body to do something totally new.” The momentary discomfort of an injection is worth it if you consider the benefit over time, she says—many vaccines will offer children protection for the rest of their lives!
During the session, the mothers traded stories of disapproving family members. One woman's mother-in-law tried to prohibit her from vaccinating her 2-year-old daughter; for another woman, it was her husband who said no. But the mothers, both of them in their second year as Maternal Child Health project participants, told Rebeca that when faced with this dilemma, they had remembered last year’s session on vaccines and taken their children to the health center to be vaccinated in secret.
Rebeca’s work is important because it links families to valuable health care resources in their communities. In Santiago Atitlán’s more rural neighborhoods, where many sponsored mothers live, health care workers conduct home visits to remind parents to vaccinate their children. “Many people ignore these reminders,” says Rebeca, “but sponsored mothers can use them to take advantage of free vaccination services at their local health center.”
We at Pueblo a Pueblo strive to build sustainable change in our partner communities. Education is key to our approach because it equips our community partners with the knowledge they need to best advocate for themselves and their families. Thank you for believing in the power of health education to transform lives. Your support helps Rebeca bust myths and promote healthy habits here in Guatemala!
Participants look on during the session
Rebeca addresses participants
Sponsored mother Santa participates in the session