Yesterday we arrived at a women’s health clinic in San Cristobal just in time for a nutrition counselling session for mothers. The session at the San Andres Xecul clinic was held outside, and all the women wore beautiful traditional clothing, carrying their children on their backs or holding their hands.
They played a learning game similar to ‘hot potato,’ only with an egg. Whoever was holding the egg when the drum stopped would have to answer a question. The counselor asked, “What is the importance of folic acid during pregnancy?”
-”Healthy development of the baby” the mother replied.
-”Is she right?”
All the mothers clapped and yelled “Siii!” and the game began again.
After the game we asked the mothers about Sprinkles (also called chispitas or microvitals). Our questions were translated into both Spanish and the mayan language, Kiche, so all the women could understand us. One mother told us Sprinkles “makes our children healthy.They have energy now, they have appetites and they aren’t sick all the time.”
We observed the monthly weight monitoring. I helped a mother measure her daughter’s height and I placed a 4-month-old on the scale to be weighed.
“All looks great!” the doctor smiled. I can’t describe how that moment felt.
We saw doctors handing out Sprinkles packets to the mothers and we learned that Next Generation’s $175,000 donation for Sprinkles will help this very clinic! Next Gen’s fundaising and donations will allow this clinic to hire more (much needed) staff, train staff, provide needed measuring equipment and mas Sprinkles for these families AND thanks to Next Gen we will be able to provide for even more families!
Muchas gracias Next Generation!
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!
Welcome to the debut of what I plan as a weekly post–the Thursday video. The clips I post here may be a direct comment on UNICEF’s work or may simply represent the mission we share with many.
This week’s featured video comes from Frederic Dupoux, a 25 year old Haitian photographer who has been spending much of his time in the past month in the shelter camps of Port-au-Prince. It was filmed on January 31st in the Ste Therese Football Park in Petionville.
Fred writes: “In this camp people organized it in different zones and put one person in charge of their zone to make sure that it is clean and secured. The zone I shot was called “Lakou 12 Janvye.”[Streets of January 12th]. I was amazed by how clean it was and how they had separated the camp in different sectors and assigned people in charge to make sure that it’s always clean.”
More than 200,000 people are living in temporary shelter camps, supplied with basic needs by UNICEF and other international aid organizations. An estimated 40 percent of them are under age 14.
With schools closed and adults occupied with the daily tasks of finding food, water and medical attention for their families, the young, too, are in need of some occupation. Say the boys in this video, “we may be small, but we can rap!” Watching them is like watching a spark of resilience catch fire.
As for the other star, the iconic orange jumpsuited-man – Fred says he’s “Master Guerrier L’Oiseau,” a well known karate master who lost his school in the quake. Many of his students, though, are now his neighbor in Lakou 12 Janvye.
We’re grateful to Fred for the glimpse at life in an emergency … without urgency.