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Family Planning for Guatemalans Living in Poverty

by WINGS
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

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!

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
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.

Luis gives a talk at La Vega (Mazatenango)
Luis gives a talk at La Vega (Mazatenango)

A few weeks ago, field educator Luis offered an educational talk about contraceptive methods in a small community in Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (department of Escuintla). After the talk, two women approached him. One of them was Karen, a 27-year-old woman who heard WINGS was going to be in her community, and she came just to show her gratitude to us. Months ago, she attended a WINGS clinic where she got a subdermal hormonal implant, and not only she was now able to space her pregnancies – the implant gave her regular menstruation.

The other woman’s name was Yulissa, a 22-year-old with two children who got her subdermal hormonal implant at the health center of her community. She was worried because she suffered constant bleeding and, when she came back to the health center, they did not assist her. She arrived to the talk to get further information about the implant and she told Luis no one explained her most of the things he mentioned. After making sure it was a normal side effect, Luis asked Yulissa for her phone number in order to receive a follow-up call from WINGS.

We are pleased to see that our patients are satisfied with our work and their choice. For WINGS, the practical implementation of rights-based care means that we treat every patient in a non-judgmental, non-coercive manner that provides ample education for each individual to make well-informed decisions.  

Each patient receives comprehensive information about available contraceptive methods before they choose which one is right for them and can opt out at any moment if they change their minds. This is important in a context where not everyone has been informed of their rights in past medical treatments or other facets of their lives.

WINGS mobile unit on its way to the shelters
WINGS mobile unit on its way to the shelters

June and July have been particularly challenging months in Guatemala. Fuego Volcano erupted on June 3 and buried entire communities in the department of Escuintla. According to official data, the death toll has reached 161. However, it is very difficult to determine the real number of deaths, as Guatemala has not had a census since 2002. According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), there were 2,345 people registered in the buried communities (1,535 people in El Rodeo and 810 people in San Miguel Los Lotes). Conversely, the National Civil Registry (RENAP) states there are 4,295 adults registered in El Rodeo and 397 adults in San Miguel Los Lotes, but it is unknown whether they were still living there.

Due to the danger and uncertainly caused by the volcanic eruption, WINGS had to cancel the clinics scheduled in the affected areas, as the hospitals were attending injured people and the health centers and clinics were partially destroyed. Nevertheless, WINGS continued doing what we do best: take supplies directly to those in need. As an immediate response, WINGS started bringing short-term contraception to the shelters, as well as basic hygiene and rescue goods. These visits allowed us to identify suitable strategies to provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).

WINGS’ first LARC clinic after the disaster in one of the areas adjacent to the volcano was overwhelmingly successful. Our medical team attended 27 patients in Osuna, Escuintla. We are proud of how quickly and efficiently we were able to detect and respond to needs as they arose. We continue to work hard to assure Guatemalans’ right to access contraceptive information and services regardless of this natural disaster and ongoing crisis.

Nurse Alexia provides contraception in a shelter
Nurse Alexia provides contraception in a shelter
 

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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
$52,207 raised of $80,000 goal
 
961 donations
$27,793 to go
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