Oct 30, 2017

Exciting Updates from Sacred Valley Health

Certified to teach Women's Health topics!
Certified to teach Women's Health topics!

Exciting Updates at Sacred Valley Health/ Ayni Wasi!

In September, Sacred Valley Health (SVH) held evaluations for the promotoras participating in the Women’s Health program. After weeks of training, studying and review, they all passed! This means there are 9 specialized Women’s Health Promotoras. Each woman is trained to teach fellow community members about family planning, reproductive diseases, anatomy, and pre and post- natal care. These program was designed in response to the requests and needs of  women in the high altitude communities as reproductive health is not taught in the local school system. SVH is incredibly proud of these women and their passion for education, health and women’s rights.

The Vitamin distribution campaigns have continued to be successful. Of most recent, in the community of Huilloc, more than 50 children received vitamins. This community interest and involvement enables SVH to continue to track nutrition and growth rates within communities.  

Additionally, SVH welcomed several new Community Coordinators to our team! Community Coordinators assist promotoras and docentes with education and review of health topics. They visit promotoras and docentes in their communities and accompany them on home visits.  Community Coordinators are an integral to the success of SVH programming.

Prog. Director Esco teaching about balanced meals!
Prog. Director Esco teaching about balanced meals!
Aug 1, 2017

Ana Cecilia Saves Her Neighbor

Ana Cecilia in her home in the community Kelccanka
Ana Cecilia in her home in the community Kelccanka

It’s 5 am, Nancy, Ana Cecilia’s 3 year old daughter, is still asleep, well bundled up. Ana Cecilia gets out of bed, her breath visible illuminated by the soft light that pours in through thin glass window, coated in frost.

Outside, Juan, a neighbor of Ana Cecilia’s is running to her house, short of breath, bare feet in sandals running through mud puddles, a worried look on his face. Finally, he reaches Ana Cecilia’s house, bursting through the door. He shouts, in Quechua, that there’s been an accident. She puts on her sandals, and the two leave, running down the wet grassy hill. They arrive at a skinny dirt road. Juan saw it happen, he tells her. A boy of 14 had been driving his family’s dirt bike down the hill and had slid out because of the mud from last night’s heavy rainfall. The boy, along with the dirt bike, skidded off the road, and he is now stuck underneath it on a steep hill underneath the dirt road.

Juan knew to come to Ana Cecilia because she has been a community health worker with SVH for the last three years. Ana Cecilia, Juan, and his brother, Ivan, helps lift the boy up onto the road. It’s a cold and cloudy morning here in the high altitude community of Kelccanka.

Once they get to the road, they all start carrying the boy to Ana Cecilia’s house, up the steep, skinny trail that leads from the road to her house. Nancy is still asleep when they arrive. The boy is cut, badly, on his leg. Ana Cecilia recalls the protocol on how to clean wounds that she learned from Sacred Valley Health. She begins to boil water, a necessary step in parts of the world where water is contaminated. Until it heats up, she puts clean rags on the wound to stop the bleeding, and goes to find her first aid kit that she received during the last training in the SVH office. She washes her hands and prepares the necessary first aid cream and bandages.

Once the kettle has whistled for 3 minutes, Ana Cecilia has to let the water sit outside to cool down before using it to clean the wound. The boy is clearly writhing in pain. Ana Cecilia tells him that he shouldn’t have been driving so fast in the mud, but that she’s going to help clean his wound before taking him to the posta, the government health clinic. The nearest one is in the community of Patacancha, about 1 hour away in a car. The only problem is that they have to get to the main road to catch the market truck that will be going back down the mountain later that day.

Finally, the water has cooled down enough to be used to clean the wound thoroughly. She puts on her latex gloves, and pours a whole liter of water on the boy’s wound, as she wipes away the dirt. She dries it gently, and afterward, Ana Cecilia puts antibiotic cream on the wound, and dries it gently with a gauze pad that was included in her first aid kit from SVH. She then covers the wound with gauze and tapes it up, the boy looking at her with a look of both amazement and shock. Shock because of the accident, and amazement because he didn’t know people in Kelccanka knew how to do things like this.

Once the boy is stable, Ana Cecilia puts on her wool leg warmers, and grabs her traditional headwear. Nancy has since awoken, and has been sitting quietly, watching all of this unfold.

Several hours later, they make it to the main road, Ana Cecilia helping the boy walk as he limps to avoid putting weight on his leg. The truck comes bustling around the corner about 30 minutes after it was supposed to. Normally, they would have to ride in the back of the flatbed truck with everyone else, but Ana Cecilia explains the situation in Quechua to the driver, and they are able to sit up front instead. After about an hour and ten minutes, they arrive in Patacancha, and Ana Cecilia, with Nancy on her back secured by a blanket, and the boy make their way up to the posta to receive further treatment.

Thanks to SVH, Ana Cecilia knew exactly what to do, and she helped prevent the boy’s leg from getting infected.

May 5, 2017

Bertha's Story

Bertha after working with promotoras in Soccma
Bertha after working with promotoras in Soccma

The sun comes up later in the community of Soccma because of its location in a steep Andean mountain valley. Though, by 5:30 AM, Bertha, who has lived in Soccma her entire life, has already begun her day. She starts by getting her two and a half year old daughter, Sheyla, ready for the day. She dresses her in warm layers and tops her off with a warm, fuzzy hat, common for the area’s children. Hilario, Bertha’s husband, has prepared breakfast of eggs and aguaymanto, a typical fruit of the Andes that is picked from the cactuses that grow in the area.

It all began one day in 2013. There is a general monthly assembly in Soccma, where everyone gets together to discuss matters of the community. Bertha had gone up the mountain with her sheep, but Hilario went to the assembly. This new organization called Ayni Wasi/Sacred Valley Health had come to speak and ask if anyone in the community wanted to be a community health worker with them. Hilario, thinking that she would be great with this kind of work, put his wife’s name in as someone who had interest in taking part. He then came home and told her all about it. At first, she didn’t quite understand what her role would be. Hilario explained that Ayni Wasi was looking for people to come to their office to learn basic health topics, which she would then come back to Soccma and teach her fellow community members.

Two days later, Ayni Wasi came back to Soccma to follow up with people who were interested in being a community health worker. Bertha, in her soft spoken but confident voice, told them she was interested.

Pretty soon, she was coming to trainings at the Ayni Wasi office in Ollantaytambo, and working as a promotora of health. She started out working as a promotora for the community of Raufka, however, after a few months, she switched to be a promotora in her own community of Soccma.

After a few years of being a promotora, Bertha decided that she wanted to be a docente, the community health worker who trains future generations of promotoras.

Having excelled at her position as a docente, Bertha was recently given a salaried position as a coordinator in the Ayni Wasi office in Ollantaytambo, which she comes to 3 days a week so as to still have time to work on her family’s chakra, or farm.

We are proud that Bertha took the opportunity to not only earn a salary in an office environment for the first time in her life, but also to be a leader within her community – someone people now look up to for advice and go to for help when their family members are sick or in need of medical attention.

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