We have just returned from another amazing time in Guatemala training further comadronas, (a.k.a. traditional birth attendants). We spent 2 weeks in a small town called El Rodeo in the Department of San Marcos. This town is situated in the western portion of Guatemala in the lowlands, near the Mexican border. We trained 55 eager students, the majority being comadronas who have been actively working, and the remainder, equal numbers of aspiring comadronas and volunteer ambulance attendants.
Once again, it was remarkable to see the students so intrigued by what they were learning. Their desire to learn was palpable! One of the important aspects of our training is for each student to do a real life interview and examination of a pregnant woman, to use their new knowledge that they have learned by using models and role playing. One of our comadrona students asked each of her patients to come to our course so that everyone in the course would have the opportunity to do a hands-on interview and exam of a pregnant woman. This was a huge gift for those who did not have a pregnant friend, sister, cousin or neighbour to join them for the private clinic which we set up as part of our course. During our second week, a pregnant student offered to have everyone watch Ruth did a live interview and exam on her as an example for the whole class. Awesome participation!
The course was very well received and we had a wonderful graduation ceremony to celebrate the students completing the 5 day courses. The mayor of El Rodeo supplied a wonderful meal for everyone present. We heard many times how much each student appreciated the course.
Since returning home, our team has already been asked to bring our course to 5 other towns! Our Guatemalan teammates will be teaching 3 of these groups throughout the coming months. We hope to be back in Guatemala for training of Trainers next year so that we can reach many more areas. We were unable to train trainers this year due to logistical issues. Our coordinator is working on getting everything lined up to do this for next Feb. We were also able to have meetings with 3 other NGOs in Guatemala in hopes of finding groups to collaborate with. One of these groups expressed a lot of interest in working together. We hope to find others as well in the coming year.
We were excited to learn that the Minister of Health has asked for a meeting with our group in the near future and there is a real possibility that our project will be used as a model by other groups throughout Guatemala. Cenaida, our Guatemalan coordinator, is well prepared to make a presentation about our project. This will include the concept of having a registry of trained trainers and comadronas, at a national level, and to train all comadronas within Guatemala with our comprehensive hands-on course. We could then begin to divide Guatemala into regions with groups of trainers responsible for specific regions. Once a registry is formed, there could be a way of ensuring that trainers, as well as comadronas have a recertification on a regular basis, to keep everyone up to date. The doctor in charge of the doctors in the Dept. (state) of Sololá will also be present at this meeting to speak on our behalf. He has been a promoter of our course for the past number of years and has seen the benefits of our style of teaching. There will also be a representative of the Sololá Dept. of Development.
Things continue to unfold, and many more areas of Guatemala are still in need of training. Thank you all who have and continue to support this project, helping many Guatemalans learn safe birthing skills and saving lives!