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...