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Empower 20 Adolescent Girls from Rural Peru

by Sacred Valley Health
Empower 20 Adolescent Girls from Rural Peru
Graduation Photo
Graduation Photo

All of the AGEI participants buzzed giddily with excitement on the final Saturday morning of the program. Everyone was excited for what would be - for almost all of them - their first trip to the city of Cusco. After some quick wrap-up activities, staff and participants piled into two vans to make the 1.5-hour drive from Ollantaytambo to Cusco. 

The first stop on the big city tour was the Universidad Nacional de Arte Diego Quispe Tito del Cusco, a fine arts college. Participants were met by a professor who explained areas of study, encouraged the girls to apply through the placement program for students from communities in the region, and led a tour of the school to include one of the painting workshops. Next AGEIers walked through the Plaza de Armas, down the cobbled streets of the Incan Empire capital city, and made their way to Qoricancha, a temple at the city center that was very important for Incan religious ceremonies. Participants visited the small museum that lies beneath the grounds of Qoricancha, learning about the construction of the temple and its primary use before the Spanish Conquistadors built the Santo Domingo Church directly on top of much of the site. 

With all of this walking and learning, everyone had worked up an appetite! So, after a quick lunch of pollo a la brasa and chicha morada, the final Cusco stop was the mall shopping center! Participants rode the elevator and escalator for the first time, and got to experience the joyous confusion of bumper cars at the arcade. What better way to get out of the post-meal, afternoon slump?! The group, feeling rejuvenated, piled back into the vans to head back for their graduation celebration.

The route back to The Sacred Valley included two important stops. First, Puka Pukara, an archaeological site said to be the Gateway to The Sacred Valley, and the starting point of a system of tunnels created during the Incan Empire, which run from Cusco to various settlements in The Valley. Next, a stop at a beautiful vista point overlooking the town of Pisac and the road that winds down The Valley toward Ollantaytambo. And the final stop: picking up the cake before arriving at the home of SVH’s Director of Operations, Ana, for the graduation and sleepover fiesta!

After snacks and more chicha morada (Escolástica’s special recipe), program staff congratulated and thanked all of the girls for their participation in the AGEI pilot program. Each participant was individually recognized with a certificate and Ayni Wasi goody bag, and were asked to say something about their experience. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, ranging from being grateful to take part in the program, to saying the program will be beneficial to other adolescent girls in their communities whom they hope to educate themselves. (Given that SVH’s core programs operate using a train-the-trainer framework, staff are very excited about the prospect of the AGEI adopting the same format!). The night ended with cake, music, and dancing.

Thank you so much for following the AGEI Pilot Program journey! SVH is grateful for all of the support and donations that made the AGEI pilot program possible and now we are seeking funding to launch a full scale program. Program staff witnessed growth and character building in just a few short weeks with participants, and SVH hopes to reach even more adolescent girls with the launch of a formal program. Staff will be analyzing all data collected to inform a scaled-up AGEI program to be launched in 2020. Please consider making a donation to support the launch of our formal AGEI program!

Graduation Celebration
Graduation Celebration
Cusco Group Photo
Cusco Group Photo
University Visit
University Visit
University Tour
University Tour
Cusco Overlook
Cusco Overlook
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Sonia teaching about methods of communication
Sonia teaching about methods of communication

The first session of the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Initiative (AGEI) began with18 girls between the ages of 12-16 silently eating breakfast around a large table in the main training area of Ayni Wasi’s office. Program staff attempted to break the ice, asking questions, hoping to make the girls feel welcome and more comfortable. New faces from other communities, adults circling the room, and conversations in two different languages is enough to make anyone feel a little intimidated, let alone someone in the difficult adolescent years. Luckily, instructors Sonia and Yajaida were well prepared to welcome the participants and start off the first session with an appropriate topic: Communication.

A four year age range in adolescence can equal a lifetime of experience. Knowing this, SVH staff decided to divide participants into two groups according to age: 12-13 years old, and 14-16 years old. This division of age groups increased participation, especially among the younger girls. Each training session consisted of customized illustrated resources on the day’s topics, activities, and videos, followed by group discussions that were age appropriate. Sonia facilitated the older girls’ group, addressing more advanced sexual and reproductive health topics like Sexually Transmitted Infections and Family Planning, while Yajaida worked with the younger group, tackling Healthy Friendships, Body Image, and Bullying. Sessions were held in the Ayni Wasi office every Saturday for 4 consecutive weeks. With each passing week, enthusiasm, interest and participation grew by leaps and bounds. The final session of the program culminates with a trip to Cusco to visit a university, a graduation ceremony and a sleep-over.

If retention is an indicator of success, then AGEI is a huge hit! SVH is proud to share a 100% retention rate of 18 girls completing all 5 trainings.  

SVH looks forward to an exciting trip to Cusco with all of the girls, and a graduation ceremony to follow. Stay tuned!

Fortifying communication with a game of Telephone
Fortifying communication with a game of Telephone
A game tests knowledge of family planning methods
A game tests knowledge of family planning methods

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Director of Programs, Escolastica Castillo Obando
Director of Programs, Escolastica Castillo Obando

A common reality in non-profit project implementation: timing is everything. Unfortunately, timing did not work in favor of the collaboration with Chimpay, the partner nonprofit in Ollantaytambo, Peru. Going back to the drawing board, Director of Programs, Escolástica, decided to ask Community Health Workers (CHWs) to gauge interest in the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Initiative program among young women in their communities.  

Before long, Escolástica received a full roster of participants between the ages of 12-16. One of the best and most unexpected outcomes of SVH’s Maternal and Child Health Advanced Certification Program (MCHACP) has been the amount of interest it has generated among community members, especially in the theme of family planning. Due to the increased family support in learning about women’s health topics, CHWs were able to easily recruit participants to join the AGEI program.  

With the participant roster set, SVH staff approached a younger CHW to fill the facilitator role. Sonia, a CHW specializing in women’s health from the community of Patacancha, expressed interest in leading training sessions with the help of Quechua-speaking SVH staff member, Yajaida. Starting in September, 20 young women from the high altitude communities will join our facilitators on Saturdays for five half-day sessions over the course of 5 weeks to discuss themes of healthy relationships, changes in adolescence, and sexual and reproductive health. Currently, Sonia and Yajaida are in the process of finalizing the initial training session. They are excited to begin working with this group of dynamic young women, and look forward to creating an impactful experience!

Facilitators Yajaida (left) and Sonia (right)
Facilitators Yajaida (left) and Sonia (right)
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The Adolescent Girls Empowerment Initiative is in the final stages of program planning! The curriculum outline and facilitators' guides have been developed, using models from similar programs throughout Latin America. To monitor participants' progress as well as the impact of the program, close attention will be paid to the Women's Empowerment Index. 
Additionally, SVH has established a partnership with a local Peruvian organization, Chimpay, working with students in the community of Patacancha. Through this partnership, the AGEI is building its relationship with the school administration and has established a target population of adolescent girls. A program evaluation tool will allow SVH to collaborate and share data with Chimpay on various overlapping themes, helping reinforce the objectives of the AGEI and tailor curricular resources to the needs of the girls in Patacancha. Program staff are looking forward to beginning sessions in later in 2019! 

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Organization Information

Sacred Valley Health

Location: Roanoke, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @sacredvalhealth
Project Leader:
Keri Baker
Anchorage, AK United States
$2,618 raised of $7,100 goal
 
85 donations
$4,482 to go
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