May 9, 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Proud promotora: Santusa is always eager to work
Proud promotora: Santusa is always eager to work

On a warm March morning, Santusa sits quietly on a bench in the Sacred Valley Health office, eating breakfast. She has already been awake for several hours. Today, she and her three-year-old son, Jordy, rose before the sun came up. Together, they traveled from their remote community of Huilloc to Ollantaytambo for the 9 o’clock docente training. As soon as she arrives, Santusa is alert, eager to review the day’s health topic.

While Santusa is soft spoken and reserved, she is always ready to help when needed. For this reason, her community elected her to serve as one of its community health workers. In this role, Santusa learns important health information and first aid through monthly trainings. As a promotora, she is highly attentive to the health needs of her friends and neighbors. “Everything I learn, I practice in my community.” She says. “I can go to [my neighbors’] houses when they are sick and help them.”

Santusa recognizes that she cannot always provide immediate solutions to all health issues. Sometimes, she has to call for additional help. “There was a young girl in my community who was fifteen years old and pregnant,” she says. “Her pregnancy went well, but because she was so young, she wasn’t ready to give birth, and there were complications. She had to go to the nearest health center, where she received more advanced care. She spent two weeks there; I went with her and was with her the entire time she gave birth. Her family was very appreciative.” She smiles. “This was a moment when I was especially happy to be a promotora.”

Santusa loves health so much that she applied to be a docente, or trainer of trainers. This past January, she was hired. As a docente, Santusa is learning how to properly train the next generations of promotoras so that they in turn can help their communities. She also has an opportunity to develop more professional and leadership skills. Being a docente allows to her exercise greater independence and implement what she has learned into practice. Although she leads a busy life, Santusa is proud to be a promotora.

“I know most of what is to know. But that means I can share it with others.” She says, “I want others to succeed.”

Santusa and Jordy await for the day's lesson
Santusa and Jordy await for the day's lesson
Teaching new promotoras about childhood nutrition
Teaching new promotoras about childhood nutrition
Feb 18, 2016

Continuing Education

Teresa leads a health presentation
Teresa leads a health presentation

Throughout her life, Teresa has always helped others. She lives in Huilloc, a large indigenous community located in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Despite her community’s size, Teresa stands out as one of its leaders. Whenever asked, she always steps up to a task. Her duties include weaving for a local cooperative and helping manage the government-run daycare, Kunamas. She also cooks for her relatives who work on the family farm or chakra. On top of it all, Teresa takes care of her three children and has a fourth on the way. While she has swiftly maneuvered the daily bustle, Teresa always knew that she wanted something more for herself: an education.   

            “I only went to school until the sixth grade. But I still wanted to learn,” she says.  “There was just never time.”

            In 2012, Teresa found her opportunity. Huilloc elected her to act as one of Sacred Valley Health’s official community health workers or promotoras de salud. Teresa has never looked back. By serving as a promotora, she not only helps her neighbors but has also expands her educational pursuits. Since joining Sacred Valley Health, Teresa has diligently attended all of the monthly training sessions and has eagerly participated in the learning exercises. As a result, she has learned important health topics that are culturally relevant to her community, such as childhood nutrition, environmental dangers, washing hands, and brushing teeth. One of the skills that she is especially happy to have learned is first aid, mainly because it has become a great necessity in her community.

            “There was a gentleman, one of my neighbors, who was bitten by a llama on his farm.” Teresa recalls. “He had a huge wound on his leg. It looked bad, and at first I wasn’t sure what to do. But then, I remembered my lessons from Sacred Valley Health and did just what I was taught. I cleaned up the bite as best as I could with soap and then put on antibiotic cream. I wrapped it with a clean bandage and went with him to the nearest clinic so that the doctors there could attend to him.” 

            At the clinic, the man received the proper advanced care, and over time, his wound healed. “He was very, very grateful to me.” Teresa says. “In this moment, I felt proud. [Because I’m a promotora], things like this don’t need to happen anymore. People come to me whenever they need me. I’m always aiding someone in need.” 

            Teresa wanted to share her knowledge with others who may also be interested in health. This past January, she applied to Sacred Valley Health’s Docente Program or “Train-the-Trainer Program” and was hired. As a docente, Teresa not only becomes an official employee of SVH, but also has the opportunity to develop even more advanced leadership and technical skills. She will be able to train other aspiring promotoras who may live in communities that are farther away and who, like her, also want to learn. She is eager to take on this new challenge.  

            “Being a docente means taking more responsibility. You take what you have and pass it on to others,” she says. “But it also means that others will be able to learn what they never could before.”

A view of Huilloc, Teresa's community
A view of Huilloc, Teresa's community
Educating the next generation of promotoras
Educating the next generation of promotoras

Links:

Nov 24, 2015

A Boost of Confidence

Julia is the official promotora of Pomatales
Julia is the official promotora of Pomatales

Pomatales is a community whose members live amongst the clouds. Tucked in a mountain that overlooks clusters of houses and small farms that mark the Sacred Valley, the view is indisputably stunning. Despite its beauty, the village faces various social and economic challenges. Like other isolated communities, Pomatales lacks necessary resources, including health services. The nearest clinic is hours away by foot. Because of the distance, some community members are apprehensive of seeking professional medical help should they face a serious health condition.

Luckily, this scenario is changing. Last January, Pomatales elected one of its community members, Julia, to train as a promotora, or community health worker. Before her neighbors chose her, Julia did not see herself as a leader. She was especially shy and nervous about speaking in front of large groups of people. However, as the official promotora of her community, she was determined to overcome her fears. She says, “I wanted to be a promotora because I really like talking with my neighbors. I wanted to become more confident.”

During six months of promotora training, Julia rapidly gained confidence and developed important skills. By working with a medically trained staff, Julia learned protocols in first aid training, nutrition, and environmental dangers. She began practicing teaching health lessons to large groups of people. Her education also has helped her recognize the symptoms of serious conditions that may occur in her community.

Julia’s training soon paid off in an enormous way. In October, a Pomatales mother was concerned about her 16-year-old daughter’s diarrhea and vomiting. Julia remarks, “The mother approached me for health advice. I went to the family’s home and realized that the woman’s daughter was dehydrated.” Quickly, Julia utilized the protocol she had learned at her trainings to make an oral rehydration solution (ORS), which helps prevent extreme dehydration. However, after a few sips, the girl immediately vomited, signaling to Julia that the teen was in grave danger and needed to see a doctor.

Despite initial resistance from the mother, Julia was persistent and firmly stated that the girl needed a doctor. Julia says, “I convinced the family to go to the clinic and accompanied them down the mountainside. When we were there, the doctor told the girl’s mother that if we had not brought her down the mountain, the girl might have died.”

Julia is proud to be a promotora and is grateful to have the opportunity to learn new things. Her training has not only given her health knowledge, but also confidence in her abilities. Thanks to her, Pomatales is a community that is on its way to better health.

Practicing first aid
Practicing first aid
A view of Pomatales
A view of Pomatales

Links:

 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.