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Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty

by WINGS
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Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty
Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty

In Guatemala, we have a tradition of "Muñecas Quitapenas" or Worry Dolls. According to folklore, if you have a worry, you whisper it to your Worry Doll, put her under your pillow at bedtime and in the morning she will have taken that worry away and you'll be worry-free! You can learn more about these powerful muñecas by visiting https://guate-maya.com/munecas-quitapenas-worry-dolls-what-they-are-and-how-to-find-them/.

In July 2019, WINGS undertook a geographical expansion into the Western Highlands of Guatemala, with the help of generous funders who understood the need for increased services in this hard-to-reach area. After working for the past few months in the departments of Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, and San Marcos, we are even more convinced of how important WINGS' services are there.

In September of this year, we saw 34 year-old Mónica Luisa at one of our tubal ligation clinics in San Marcos. At her young age, she already had 7 children and had been using quarterly birth control shots as her form of contraception. We hear this situation from many of our patients: they know they don't want more children, but it is difficult to get to a facility to get a tubal ligation or vasectomy, let alone pay for the procedure.

WINGS saw Mónica Luisa and 11 other women at the San Marcos clinic day - a great turnout as a new service provider in the area! Because of our funding, and our partnership with the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, we offered those 12 women a permanent solution for their constant worry of another pregnancy...for free.

Stories like Mónica Luisa's remind us that while we are energized by the work we do, there is so much needWith your support, WINGS has the power to take away a huge worry for so many people - moms who are worried about getting pregnant again, teens who are worried about an unintended pregnancy, families who are worried about feeding one more child.

We are so grateful for your support as we endeavor to be the most powerful Muñeca Quitapenas for our patients that we can possibly be. ¡Gracias!

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One of WINGS’ longest-standing programs is our network of more than 30 Volunteer Health Promoters: community leaders identified within underserved rural areas to be a local point of service. Through their intimate linguistic and cultural knowledge of the communities they serve, they are able to provide quality contraceptive counseling, low-cost short-acting methods, and referrals to WINGS medical clinics for additional services.

Hilda Siquic is one of our star volunteer health promoters from the northern department of Alta Verapaz. We interviewed her recently about her perspectives on her work with WINGS. Here’s what she told us.

“I am 25 years old and I have no children. It is not something common in my environment. 

I wanted to be part of WINGS to be able to inform my community. In Alta Verapaz, women have many children, and most of them are because they do not know about the existence of effective methods to control their pregnancies. In my community, Yapelmech (Raxruhá), many women have 7 to 10 children. As a Volunteer Promoter with WINGS, I provide women with short-acting reversible contraception. Now we have to educate men, because they don’t want women to plan with long-acting reversible contraceptives since they believe that incites them to infidelity. 

When I started with WINGS I thought that family planning talks would not be welcomed since my community is very religious and church priests are against contraception, but it was the opposite. The women are really relieved to know that they can have the children they want at such an affordable cost.” 

Women like Hilda are helping to change the daily realities of so many communities in Guatemala by bravely talking about the subject of reproductive health with their families, friends, and neighbors. Your continued support of WINGS and Hilda means so much to us as we provide reproductive health education and services in Guatemala. ¡Gracias!

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2019 marks WINGS’ 18th year. We are growing in important and strategic ways, always aiming to reach the unreachable with reproductive health education and services.

The most significant growth is a geographic expansion via a new third mobile unit to the Western Highlands including Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, and San Marcos. We have secured funding, hired local staff, and trained this new team to begin providing WINGS’ services in three new departments beginning July 1. We are leveraging a recently signed MOU with the Guatemalan Ministry of Health that will allow us easier access to national hospitals with whom we partner to perform tubal ligations and vasectomies. 

Another meaningful partnership that we continue to grow is with APEVIHS (Asociación para la Prevención y Estudio del VIH/Sida), an organization working in the southwest region of Guatemala, focused on malnutrition, prevention, and screening of HIV, along with wrap-around community services. WINGS’ agreement with APEVIHS allows WINGS to have a clinic space within their offices and to accompany their community health workers when they go into the field to offer community-based services. We are excited to learn from APEVIHS staff and explore how to best integrate HIV-related services into our work.

In June, our Executive Director Rodrigo Barillas along with the President of our Board of Directors, Holly Myers, attended the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver. In addition to being inspired by the workshops and networking, they were able to share WINGS’ work on an international stage, continuing to build our reputation as a leader in the provision of rights-based, patient-centered care.

Finally, our Medical Director, Dr. Michelle Dubón, was chosen to be a part of the 2019 class of Aspen New Voices Fellows. These 25 leaders from the Global South work on the frontlines of global development and health. For more info, check out their website. Last week, Michelle participated in the “Aspen Global Innovators Group at Aspen Ideas: Health” gathering in Aspen, Colorado where she learned new tools and gained even more expertise to help us improve how we communicate about our work in rural Guatemala. (She also got to meet Dr. Ruth Westheimer!)

We are so proud of all the new opportunities we are experiencing right now and cannot wait to see what the rest of 2019 brings! Your continued support and trust mean so much to us as we provide reproductive health education and services in Guatemala. ¡Gracias!

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WINGS Estimated Impact in 2018
WINGS Estimated Impact in 2018

2018 was a challenging year for Guatemala. Fuego Volcano forever changed the lives of thousands of families and the landscape near WINGS’ headquarters in Guatemala. Looking back, the months from June to October seem to have gone by in waves of emotions, ash-filled air, and an outpouring of generosity from around the world. While there was not a direct impact on the services we provide in other departments, our organization as a whole and Guatemala in general was deeply impacted by this tragedy. It brought our already close staff even closer together and revealed a strengthened commitment to serve vulnerable communities. WINGS raised over $78,000 to support the community’s response to the volcanic eruption.

Throughout the year, WINGS served a total of 23,171 individuals with contraceptive services and reproductive education. Our focus on rights-based, patient-centered care continued to guide every interaction and helped us build trust with our patients and community partners.

We formalized a partnership with Iniciativa Guatemala to provide oversight of a new Reproductive Health Project housed within their organization which is implemented in severely poverty-stricken, high-crime areas of Guatemala City. We provide capacity building training to key members of their staff and are replicating our youth program model at their school sites.

In November, our Executive Director Rodrigo Barillas and our field promotion supervisor Celeste Velásquez attended the 2018 International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali, Rwanda. Celeste was accepted as the only Guatemalan Youth Delegate representative and had the opportunity to present as part of a youth panel to international experts. WINGS’ work is being noticed on the international stage and we are so proud to share some highlights with you here.

Throughout 2018, WINGS delivered clinical reproductive health services through 2 mobile units, a network of more than 30 Volunteer Health Promoters, a stationary clinic in Antigua, and satellite clinics in Cobán and Sololá. Covering 11 departments (Guatemalan states), we attempt to fill in gaps in access to care, especially in hard-to-reach rural communities.

We are so very grateful for your continued support and partnership as we reach the unreachable with reproductive health education and services in Guatemala.

2018 WINGS Service Provision Results
2018 WINGS Service Provision Results
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Senayda on her way to a clinic in Panajachel.
Senayda on her way to a clinic in Panajachel.

Last month, Senayda and Josefina, our nurses in Sololá and Totonicapán, travelled to San Francisco (Department of Totonicapán) to provide long-term contraception. As it was a mainly indigenous community, Josefina offered the initial educational talk in Mayan K’ich’e.

Isabel, a 14-year-old patient, entered the clinic room with a 6-month baby. Isabel told Senayda she blamed her partner for the unwanted pregnancy, as he told her she could not get pregnant in her first sexual intercourse. After having the baby, her older sister, who lives in the US, talked to her about contraception. Isabel complained about no one explaining her anything about reproductive health before.

Even though her partner agreed on using contraception, her mother-in-law opposed and said it was against their beliefs. After hearing the story, Senayda advised her to get an IUD, as she feared Isabel could suffer physical violence if her partner’s family learned she was using contraception. However, Isabel said that, after talking to her sister, she understood it was her right to use a method and that she preferred the subdermal hormonal implant.

Isabel told Senayda how grateful she was to WINGS for providing counselling in K’ich’e, as she had understanding difficulties in Spanish. “We see stories like Isabel’s every day in rural communities”, Senayda says. “It is discouraging to see none of the education and health centers offer reproductive health education in Mayan languages.”

WINGS recognizes language can be a barrier for people to access information about reproductive health. Your support allows us have an excellent team of local nurses and promoters who help us reach indigenous communities and ensure they exercise their right to reproductive health education.

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Organization Information

WINGS

Location: Antigua, Sacatepequez - Guatemala
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WINGSGUATEMALA
Project Leader:
Kirsten Taylor
Development Director
Antigua, Guatemala
$60,263 raised of $80,000 goal
 
1,059 donations
$19,737 to go
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