Monday, May 9, 2011

Maria Bernarda, apprentices and other news

There is a lot going on and I hardly have time to write - on the 25th Maria Bernarda had her Baby with us in Manos Abiertas, - because of being chronically undernourished she did not have much strength and the birth was hard but we could keep her bleeding under control - and she sked me to tell the sponsors that she "would like to thank the people who m ade it possible for her to have her baby at Manos Abiertas. We were so nice and patient with her and really good people."

Anyway, when she brought her baby to our (free) pediatric consult three days later, the baby had a fever and was hospitalized by advice of our pediatrician - by now baby is back home and doing fine. but he probably had an infection that his mother had prenatally and we had no chance to diagnose since she did not have regular prenatal visits with us.

Other exciting things are happening: since last week Wednesday, our interns from Momostenango are with us and learning avidly. On their very first day I took them to a workshop on "Interculturalidad" - put on by several big NGOs and by ( surprise!) the Ministry of Health. There were quite a few Mayan midwives present and I believe Olga and Paty enjoyed the event.
Since Friday they have been following Carmen and Sandra around and are learning a lot. On Thursday they will come to the city with me to another event, this time for the international day of the midwife. I hope between learning and ging to events they will not get bored with us!

The 26th of this month we will do a VIA/cryo and Pap day clinic at lake Atitlan. by then Olga and Paty will have learned to fill out basic clinical histories and will accompany Gabi, Carmen and Sandra. The clinic will also give them their first exposure to the VIA procedure, so they get an idea what they are looking at.

On the other hand , we are working with several dedicated individuals on finding grants we could apply for. Josie, who works for WINGS is sacrificing her spare time for us, Rina is doing long distance collaboration with us, and José Roberto, who now works for UNFPA has pointed me in the right direction regarding visibility and grant applications. Let's hope for the best and I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Our newest idea is bearing fruit: the sponsor-a-birth program!
Two nights ago we attended the first of many sponsored births to come! The first sponsor was my mother, thank you so much!
Silvia and her husband are a young couple that was having their second baby. She had had the first baby at the national hospital and did NOT want to go back there.
She labored quickly and easily and gave birth without a tear to a beautiful 7.8 lbs baby girl named Elisabeth. Emily Kate, one of our interns was present, as well as Natasha who is taking pictures for our website. They arrived Just on time.
They were very happy with their experience and the husband donated the 400Q he had been able to save up for their birth to the clinic. Here a picture of Silvia and Elisabeth:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

After a busy year...

Better late than never - here we are again! Manos Abiertas is going strong though we have had a difficult year with lots of obstacles - in terms of employees, money and the aftermath of Agatha - and now we have elections coming up in Guatemala which is about as bad as another hurricane.
The main changes in the last year have been staff modifications - and all for the better! Amarilis is helping us with accounting and we have Carmen, Sandra's mom who used to work at WINGS as a second care provider in Ciudad Vieja.
Our team feels good, very solid, eager to learn and in good spirits.
The very high expectations of our donors though we were not able to meet this year - considering all the obstacles we faced we are doing pretty good though, all things considered. we have given almost all the services projected - we have just not been able to charge what we hoped. The people have no money, especially the women! So we charge less, or we do not charge at all... we have recently started to implement on a very small scale the "sponsor a birth" program - a woman came to us, 47 years old, 6 kids, pregnant again and her husband had broken his leg and was not able to work. She had had one prenatal visit with us but could not afford to come in regularly. So the next time she came in she was already eight and a half months pregnant, severely anemic and undernourished.
She was also afraid to have her baby at the hospital because she had not been treated well in the past.
Knowing that the hospital would not pay attention to her low iron etc. we decided to start a mini-campaign to fund her birth with us. By contacting twenty people, in a matter of 24 hours I had enough money for three sponsored births! Thanks again to everybody who contributed for Maria Bernarda to have a good and safe birth experience. We will keep you posted !

Our intern program is also humming - seven paying people have signed up so far for this year! they are from Germany and from the US, some recent graduates from Midwifery school, some students and some people wanting to study midwifery.
Right now we have two lovely interns with us , Laura and Emily Kate - no midwives yet but oh, so useful! And motivated and smart and lovely... ok, I stop right here. They are redoing our website, perhaps incorporating this blog, did a little study on anemia in our clients, will make an herb garden, found us a grant writer (temporary)... the kind of people we need! Besides, Lauras mom will bring books...!

On the networking front, we have also had some success - looks like a German NGO will want us to train two future midwives and health workers from the highlands, from Chocruz, Momostenango. These young women will get some practical training with us, both administrative and medical, so they are able to run a primary care health post in their village.

And I am seriously looking into building our own midwifery education program! So many things have come together that I actually believe it is possible - we have the right place, the right time ( MG4 and 5...) and the right connections. but again - I will keep you posted as things develop.

In zone 11 we are facing the problem that people do not have a concept of a natural birth anymore - we have lost four clients so far because they lost patience!! People are so used to getting their babies cut out of them or pulled out of them or being hooked up to an IV that they do not believe in letting birth progressing normally. The urban clientele on one hand is used to getting things fixed "now" and on the other hand has no education to reason for themselves. that does affect our spirits in the clinic in the city!
Ciudad Vieja has had quite a few births and some of them very close together - last month we had three births in 12 hours! I believe the "sponsor a birth" program will bring a lot of births to Ciudad Vieja - there are so many women who would like to have their babies with us and can not afford to. Here some more birth pictures...