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Casey Rotter is a development officer at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. She is on a week-long field trip to Guatemala with members of UNICEF’s Next Generation.
Greetings from Guatemala!
We arrived — all fourteen of us Next Geners — in Guatemala City safe and sound! We had a nice group dinner of typical Guatemalan food last night and went to bed early so that we could be refreshed for the early morning activities.
We had our briefing at the UNICEF headquarters where we met all of the fabulous staff! And then had a security briefing to ensure that our stay in Guatemala is safe. Then we were off to see our first Unicef-funded program.
We went to Roosevelt Hospital and visited their prenatal programs and emergency prenatal and birthing services. Unicef funds 40% of the program — including funding for staff, training, supplies, food, drugs and vaccines, as well as testing for HIV, syphilis, and Hep B. We met the incredible doctors, social workers, nutritionists, psychologists and nurses who take care of all the patients.
The vertical transmission rate of HIV is 0% when the clinic detects the disease during pregnancy (meaning HIV+ mothers are giving birth to completely healthy children thanks to this clinic). Transmission rate is 5% if the disease is discovered after birth (meaning the mothers didn’t go to the clinic for prenatal care). That’s compared to 30% if there is no prevention services.
We met a beautiful woman with her son who said that she came to the clinic when she was 5 months pregnant and found out that she was HIV+. But through PMTCT services at the clinic she is happy to say that her son (now 3 years old) is negative! She said the clinic provides her with everything she needs to stay healthy. She is so grateful!
She said “I first thank God and second, I thank the clinic. Me and my son are healthy and happy because of this clinic and these people. They are so nice to me here.”
Living proof that these services work!
Now we are on a bus heading to Quetzaltenango, 5 hours away. And tomorrow we will wake up to breakfast with adolescents who are working to empower other kids to speak out about sexual violence and advocate on their behalf.
Talk to you soon!
Today is World AIDS Day.
UNICEF-supported programs provide care and education for millions of HIV-positive children, as well as those who are orphaned by the disease and those who are living with infected caregivers.
Elizabeth Merola recently visited UNICEF programs in Zambia. In this post, she recounts the experience of visiting a rural health clinic.
The drive to Keemba Rural Health Clinic from the closest town is a long and bumpy ride due to the uneven dirt roads. Looking out the window I see children walking to and from school alongside the road and across fields that are being prepared for the first rains of the season. Cows are crazing and ox carts are transporting people from one village to the next.
When we arrive at the clinic, mothers with their children are waiting for post-natal and prevention of mother-to-child treatment (PMTCT) care. The nurses dressed in white stand out among the women with colorful wraps.
I am immediately drawn to Brenda who is 7 months old and attached to the back of her mother, Rolina. Rolina waits patiently in line for her turn to speak with the nurse. Her calmness gives me the impression that there is no urgency for her visit and she has been in this position many times before.
The past decade in Tanzania has been marked by successful reforms, steady economic growth, and political stability. Despite this progress, Tanzania’s challenge for the future is to create better living conditions for the rural poor, control the spread of HIV/AIDS, address the needs of the largest refugee population in Africa (due to neighboring conflicts), and through education develop the next generation of leaders. Sonya Renner was part of a U.S. Fund delegation from Texas and Georgia and witnessed firsthand how UNICEF impacts the lives of Tanzania’s children, and through them, Tanzania’s future.
Is it a childhood luxury to be able to attend primary school? Are dreams for the future a privilege for a limited few? While the American public education system and its schools face challenges, particularly now, we have an advantage that many countries don’t have: a long and deep-rooted belief that quality education is a right for all children. We work to insure that education is free and compulsory. We teach our children that they can
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