Project #6982

Improving Maternal-Infant Health for Mayan Women

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Rebeca, project assistant, speaking about FPC
Rebeca, project assistant, speaking about FPC

February is an exciting month for our Family Planning Champions (FPC) project-- this is the time of the year when our FPC team selects ten women to join the program and become equipped with reproductive health knowledge and receive access to subsidized contraception. Once the women complete their trainings, they take what they have learned and lead workshops in their communities, to equip more women.

This year, for the first time, our FPC project has expanded into the municipality of San Lucas Toliman. All ten women, or champions, for 2017 are from rural communities throughout San Lucas. “We are very excited for this expansion and to empower women in new places, but the process of finding the ten champions was difficult,” explains Vilma Mendoza, the FPC Project Manager.

Vilma adds, “We found that initially, many women did not want to participate. Trainings on reproductive health, or even speaking about family planning in public, is still very taboo in some places. There are a lot of myths surrounding sexual health and contraception, so without education, this false information continues to spread”.

When faced with these challenges, the FPC team sought the help of the Office on Women’s Issues in San Lucas. “The Office on Women’s Issues was receptive to the FPC project and believed that education on reproductive health is important in San Lucas. With their help, we found ten champions who are open and excited to learn this year”.

Starting at the end of March, our FPC team will travel to San Lucas every week to lead trainings. Then beginning in May, the champions will begin to lead their own workshops in the communities.

Women signing up for the FPC project
Women signing up for the FPC project
Rebeca speaking with a new champion
Rebeca speaking with a new champion
Maria and her mother-in-law, Ileana
Maria and her mother-in-law, Ileana

Our Maternal Child Health (MCH) team is going strong with continuous visits to our beneficiary mothers and children. From home visits to accompanying mothers to the local health clinic, moms and kids are getting stronger and healthier.  One beneficiary mom in particular, Maria, from a small town named Chacaya, began our Maternal Child Health project in May. On November 9 she gave birth to a healthy baby boy!

Maria first learned about the MCH project through a neighbor, and from there she entered the program early on in her pregnancy--the first beneficiary mother to do so at Pueblo a Pueblo. This means that Maria had regular access to the health clinic and was able to complete all of the recommended prenatal visits.

And, Maria’s early participation in the MCH project means that she had the full support of our Pueblo a Pueblo team, who visited biweekly to check on Maria’s health and ensure that she was following doctor’s orders. Rebeca Sosof, the MCH Program Assistant, notes that, through these home visits, “we’re equipping soon-to-be mothers like Maria with healthy pregnancy information while addressing any fears of the unknown.”

Maria continues to receive post-natal check-ups from the local health clinic, and Rebeca will continue to conduct home visits until the child turns 5 years old. Both mom and baby are doing great!

Stories like Maria’s are possible only with the support of donors like you. As we near the end of the year, Pueblo a Pueblo is counting on you to help us reach our goal of $60,000. With every dollar, we can continue this cycle of change for communities in rural Guatemala. Together we can extend health care access to more moms and children and empower more communities.

Donate today to make a difference in rural Guatemalan communities!

Rebeca conducting home visits
Rebeca conducting home visits
The new baby boy, still without a name!
The new baby boy, still without a name!
Pueblo a Pueblo
Pueblo a Pueblo's "campeonas"

The summer months have been busy here for Pueblo a Pueblo’s Maternal Child Health team. From August to October, we have been leading Family Planning Champion “charlas” (chats) in partnership with Comité Nacional de Alfabetización (CONAFLA)-- the National Literacy Committee in Guatemala.

During these sessions, our campeonas-- indigenous women part of our Family Planning Champions (FPC) project-- led talks on reproductive health and contraceptive methods. The participants, ranging from 15 to 35 years old, were students learning to read and write from CONAFLA’s programs. In total, 30 women received workshops from Pueblo a Pueblo.

According to Vilma Mendoza, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Maternal Child Health program manager, “These charlas are vital. For many of the participants, these workshops are their first exposure to reproductive health and information on having healthy pregnancies. We are empowering women with information on reproductive health, so they are more equipped to make good health decisions in their own lives”.

Mothers from our Maternal Child Health (MCH) program have also been collaborating with our School Nutrition project through participation in cooking workshops. Beneficiary mothers learned how to cook with vegetables they have never eaten before, such as Swiss chard and spinach. “Through these workshops, we are empowering women with the tools to feed their children and families well,” noted Mendoza.

With our Maternal Child Health program, mothers in rural Guatemala are being empowered in multiple areas of their lives!

Rebeca, part of the MCH team, leading a charla
Rebeca, part of the MCH team, leading a charla
Beneficiary mothers at a nutrition workshop
Beneficiary mothers at a nutrition workshop
Mothers learning how to cook with new veggies
Mothers learning how to cook with new veggies
Concepcion, a Pueblo a Pueblo beneficiary
Concepcion, a Pueblo a Pueblo beneficiary

For first-time mothers, pregnancy is an exciting, new experience, but it can also be a scary time filled with uncertainty. This is especially true for young women without access to proper maternal health care.

Concepcion, a first-time mother from Santiago Atitlan, was recently in a similar situation. As a 23-year-old single woman without economic support, Concepcion spent the majority of her pregnancy without any type of prenatal health care. Concepcion had badly swollen feet throughout her pregnancy and could not walk well, which made it even more difficult to seek medical assistance.

Vilma Mendoza, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Maternal Child Health Project Manager, notes that Concepcion, “felt a lot of panic and fear, because she didn’t know if the symptoms she experienced were normal. Concepcion felt like she was going through this vulnerable period of her life all alone.”

Thankfully, a former Maternal Child Health beneficiary told us about Concepcion, and with the generous contributions from supporters like you, the Pueblo a Pueblo team was able to get Concepcion the proper medical support to carry out a healthy, successful pregnancy.

Pueblo a Pueblo provided transportation so Concepcion could go to her prenatal appointments at the local clinic in town, Clinica Rxiin Tnamet, and at the larger hospital farther away in Solola, the state capital, which has specialized care. Rebeca Tiney, our Maternal Child Health Program Assistant, also began to accompany Concepcion to each appointment and follow up with routine home visits.

With the support of Pueblo a Pueblo’s team during her last few months of pregnancy, Concepcion gave birth on July 5 to a healthy, happy girl named Sofia. Both mom and baby are doing great! Pueblo a Pueblo will continue to support Concepcion until she is three months postpartum and until the child turns 5 years old. Concepcion will also continue to visit the Pueblo a Pueblo office for educational workshops on important topics like nutrition and family planning.

According to Vilma Mendoza, the overall impact of the Maternal Child Health program is two-fold. First, “families are very happy that babies are in good health and moms are safe after labor,” but also, “mothers who received help from Pueblo a Pueblo are able to spread the word to other women in their communities who may be single, scared first-time mothers. Through Pueblo a Pueblo, these young women are able to get the support they need to carry out safe pregnancies and raise healthy children!”

Baby Sofia
Baby Sofia
Mothers, including Concepcion, at a workshop
Mothers, including Concepcion, at a workshop
Rebeca conducting a home visit with Dolores
Rebeca conducting a home visit with Dolores

Home visits are an integral part of our Maternal Child Health (MCH) project because they let us follow up with the health and well-being of sponsored mothers and children. Project staff conduct home visits nearly every week of the year, for various reasons: to carry out regular evaluations, to reinforce the skills the mothers learned in trainings and to make sure they continue to attend trainings, and to check on the health and well-being of the mothers and their children.

Most recently, project staff have been conducting visits to follow up with the 10 children who visited our partner clinic, Rxiin Tnamet (re-sheen tin-a-met), in the past month to make sure they are taking their medicine properly and their health is improving.

Maternal Child Health Program Assistant, Rebeca, also explained that “because many mothers cannot read or write, it is important to do the follow up visit. Even though they they understand the doctor’s instructions at the clinic, sometimes they forget or misunderstand once they get home.”

If a child is still sick during this first follow-up visit, MCH project staff will give recommendations to the mother and conduct a second follow up visit to check on the health of the child.

This month, our communications team accompanied Rebeca to a second follow-up visit with Dolores, a 17-year-old single mother and her one-year-old son, Josue. Dolores lives in Tzanchaj, a rural community on the outskirts of Santiago Atitlan, with her mother, father, and sister. She supports herself by selling her beadwork. The family has struggled to cover the costs of medical care in the past.

When Josue became sick in January, Dolores was able to bring him to Clínica Rxiin Tnamet because of the support from Pueblo a Pueblo. At the clinic, the doctors diagnosed him with pharyngitis and gave him medicine to treat the infection. However, Dolores noticed that Josue had very little appetite because of his illness and was not eating enough. When she returned to the Rxiin Tnamet in March, the doctors diagnosed Josue with anorexia and gave him vitamins to stimulate his appetite.

At the first follow-up visit with Dolores, Rebeca saw that Josue was still struggling to eat enough food despite some small improvement. She decided to come back for a second follow-up later in the month. Last week she went back for the second visit and was happy to see that Josué was doing better. She said, “He is eating more foods besides just breastmilk, and little by little he is recuperating.” Josue has finished his medicine, but the family has continued to give him natural medicine to try to encourage his appetite more and soothe his stomach.

Rebeca used this second home visit as an opportunity to not only check on Josue’s health, but to give the family recommendations and encourage them to continue practicing the lessons they learned at trainings in their home. She will continue to follow up with Dolores and other sponsored mothers through more home visits in the coming weeks, making a big difference in the lives of these families.

Rebeca with Dolores and Josue
Rebeca with Dolores and Josue
Dolores' mother speaks with Rebeca

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Andrew Wilson
Executive Director
Neenah, WI United States
$9,644 raised of $15,000 goal
186 donations
$5,356 to go
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