Hello everyone. I want to give you a report of our time in Guatemala with the Safe Motherhood Project.  We came back from Guatemala on Monday, after two weeks filled with good experiences. Our first week, we trained 15 comadronas, many with a lot of experience, (some up to 50 years). They were grateful for the opportunity to participate in our hands-on and practical course. All said how valuable the course was and that they learned many new techniques that they knew would be helpful in their practice. We had a wonderful graduation ceremony and each student received their diploma and manual, as well as a kit of supplies to help them during their next number of births.

Each year we have to adapt to various challenges. This year one of the communities that requested our course had to cancel just before we arrived. This meant we had time to go to a grade 5-6 class and teach 57 (10-13 year old) girls about female anatomy, menstruation, youth pregnancy, the right to say “No”, etc. The girls were given the opportunity to ask questions anonymously by placing a small piece of paper with their question on it into our basket. We then read the questions out loud and answered them. This went over very well.

We also took the time to give updates to our Guatemalan teammates, providing them with new information, a refresher course and re-certification of the many topics we teach. This was a very valuable exercise, one we generally don’t have enough time to complete. We also updated the manual we give to each student to reflect these updates.

We were invited to Chichicastenango, a city of 75,000 people, by 3 bomberos (volunteer ambulance attendants) that we had trained 3 years ago in another town about 1.5 hours away. They shared stories of how valuable our course had been for them. They had been called to a number of birthing emergencies and were able to save lives of women and babies by using techniques that we had taught them. They asked us to come to their city and train the remaining bomberos with our hands-on course and we have plans to do so.

This year our team was composed of Dr. Ruth Brighouse and myself, Annette Borkent RN, (both of us being the directors and originators of the project) and Birte Paschen, a registered midwife, joining us for the 5th time, and our Guatemalan teammates: Cenaida Juarez, our co-ordinator, Gloria Cutuj, our practising comadrona (or traditional midwife), and Gaby Castellanos, our nutritionist and comadrona. As we completed our 18th year of this project, we have now taught over 1,280 people!

Once again, I’d like to thank you for your amazing support of this important project, educating comadronas and bomberos in the impoverished nation of Guatemala. Our Guatemalan teammates continue to go out and train other groups throughout the year while we are in Canada. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. If any of you have not yet donated this year, any donations will be most welcome to fund our teammates throughout the year.

Check our ‘The Safe Motherhood Project’ Facebook page to see videos of us in action and to see how much we enjoy working with these wonderful women.

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