Once again, we are in the midst of getting ready to head off to the highlands of Guatemala for our 12th annual “Safe Motherhood” program. From February 26 to March 15, Dr. Ruth Brighouse and Annette Borkent, RN will be in Guatemala, joining Guatemalan teammates and collaborators Cenaida Juarez and Gloria Cutuj. Both Cenaida and Gloria have been instrumental in logistical support and ensuring good translation between Mayan dialects and Spanish and have helped us train over 600 comadronas in the past 11 years. For the past two years, we have included volunteer paramedics in our courses, teaching them the assessment and birthing skills they need when called upon a birthing crisis. This allows the comadronas and paramedics to work together locally. We have seen a very positive change in relationships as the two groups learn how to work as a team and what their differing roles should be.
This year we will be training two further groups in rural Guatemala. Last year a proposed meeting with the Minister of Health fell through at the last minute and our hope is it will happen during this visit. We have always worked closely with the Public Health Unit of each area in which we have been teaching and the success of the program has drawn the attention of the government (in a very positive manner). We also plan to meet with the Pan American Health Organization in Guatemala City to discuss our project and possibilities of coordination and mutual support with PAHO as well as other groups. A course Cenaida and Gloria taught this past fall was in collaboration with “Amigas”, one such organization.
Hiring Cenaida and encouraging the growth of the project with local leaders is a natural and progressive step in our continuing work with Guatemalan midwives. We envision a strong expansion over the next few years, using our teaching model to reach many more communities, with independent and local leaders. This has always been our goal. Although it will, for a time, make the project more costly to maintain, it will pave the way for much greater Guatemalan involvement and support. Our expenses will now be about $25,000, as we not only need to cover the costs of implementing the program (materials and medicines, instructional booklets, etc.) throughout the year, including Cenaida’s wages and travel costs of the team but also to acquire more realistic birthing models.
We welcome donations to offset the costs. See our donations page to donate.