CAMY Fund Visit to ALAS/WINGS in Guatemala

Written by Emily Barcklow D’Amica, CAMY Fund Program Officer

On my recent trip to Guatemala I had the opportunity to see first-hand the work of ALAS/WINGS, one of the CAMY Fund’s grantees. Early in the morning on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Michele Frix, SIF’s Director of Programs, and I headed off to Cobán in the northern state of Alta Verapaz.

Panoramic view of Cobán, Alta Verapaz.

We reached the city (population: 144,461) in the afternoon and headed to the WINGS office to meet their team. We knew Fidelia Chub, the project leader for the CAMY Fund, but had not yet met her colleagues: Kimberly Morales, Director of Programs, Dominga Torres Morales, who is a Peer Educator along with Fidelia, and Ana Iczep, who is a Health Promoter with the organization. The next day, Michele and I joined Kimberly and Fidelia on a visit to the nearby community of Tanchi in order to meet with some potential youth leaders and their mothers. Cobán’s streets quickly gave way as we bounced along a lush-green gravel road. The meeting was held inside the home of a WINGS health promoter, Doña Olga Chocoj, in a large room where she can meet privately with women and men from the community seeking out family planning methods. Four young women between the ages of 16 and 20 had been recruited by Doña Olga to participate in WINGS’ youth network. They were accompanied by two of their mothers who were there to learn more and give permission for them to participate in the network’s first training the following week. Fidelia spoke to the mothers and young women in their native Q’eqchi’, though the young women also spoke Spanish. She shared with them about WINGS’ mission, the upcoming training for peer educators, as well as the expectations for these youth leaders in their communities. The young women had been selected because they are all role models in their communities and are interested in working with their peers to increase their access to reproductive health services and reduce teen pregnancy.

Young women in Tanchi, Alta Verapaz selected to participate in WINGS’ youth network.

The young women timidly, but enthusiastically, shared about their interest in joining the network and participating in the upcoming training in Coban. They all had previous experience as peer educators with another local NGO that works to improve maternal health and promote girls’ empowerment.
While the rest of us ate sweet tamales and café prepared by our hostess, Fidelia carried out her standard supervisory visit in Q’eqchi’ with Doña Olga in order to review the monthly clinical records of community members who had sought out family planning services and refill her stock of contraceptive methods.

Fidelia and Doña Olga Chocoj review the patient records and contraceptive methods disseminated during the last month.

At the end of the visit we said goodbye to Doña Olga and the young women and their mothers, wishing them well at the upcoming training. Both Michele and I were deeply impressed by the level of organization and professionalism that Fidelia demonstrated. She seemed equally comfortable speaking with the young women who are only a couple of years younger than her, as with their mothers and Doña Olga. It was clear to us that Fidelia is not only a valuable member of the WINGS team, but also a recognized leader within her community.

Fidelia Chub, CAMY Fund project leader.

On Friday, March 13, Michele and I met with the WINGS team in their Antigua office. We spoke with the organization’s Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Bernarda Jimenez, also a former iLeap Fellow, as well as Shilpa Kothari, the organization’s Development Director. We appreciated learning about the past several years of WINGS’ work, how their organization has grown and developed, and their plans for the future.

The post-script to this entry is that a week later, back in Mexico City, Fidelia asked me to participate by Skype in the inauguration at the youth leaders training. The training was a great success, with 134 young people present from 61 communities in the municipalities of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Carcha, Cobán and Chisec.

Inauguration of youth training.

Congratulations to Fidelia and the WINGS team for their commitment to empowering young people through education, in Alta Verapaz and throughout Guatemala!

 

CAMY Fund Visit to Red + Posithiva

Written by Emily Barcklow D’Amica, CAMY Fund Program Officer

Last week I was in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico to see first-hand the work of the organization Red + Posithiva, one of the CAMY Fund grantee partners. Red + Posithiva’s project, “By bringing health closer, we can make better decisions,” is led by Antonio Ordoñez, who is 30 years old. Antonio is a clinical psychologist with a Masters in family therapy. He worked for various years for the governmental System for Comprehensive Family Development (DIF) in Cozumel, Quintana Roo and the project with Red + Posithiva is his first time working within a civil society organization.

On Tuesday, January 20, Red + Posithiva organized a press conference at the Hotel Oasis Smart to publicly present the project. On the presidium was Roberto Guzmán, Director of Red + Posithiva, Antonio, as the project leader, myself on behalf of the CAMY Fund and Yadira Chávez Courtois who is responsible for family planning within the Number 2 Health Jurisdiction. The media coverage (represented by Noticias Canal 10 and Novedades Quintana Roo) was good and the media that were present were open and curious about the project being presented.

The next day, January 21, Antonio and his co-workers and I left early for the community, Tres Reyes, on the western side of Cancun. The majority of the community is comprised of people from other states who have come to work in the Cancun tourist zone. The housing plots are irregular and quite precarious and public services are limited. Red + Posithiva had selected the local primary school, “Otilio Montaño,” as their contact with the community because of their important social role and capacity to convene inhabitants of the zone. The Directors of the school, Jorge Manuel Caamal Pecho in the morning rotation and Samuel Noé Coba Tun in the afternoon rotation, proved very open to the organization and committed to the project’s activities, which consist in offering cognitive-behavioral workshops to girls between the ages of 10-12 on sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as youth-friendly services to them and their family members (sisters, mothers, etc.) by means of the organization’s mobile health unit.

Red + Posithiva’s mobile unit, ready to head off to the community. 1-21-15.

Once we had arrived and the Mobile Unit was set up the activities began with a small inaugural presentation where Roberto spoke again about the organization, Antonio about the project and I about the support provided by the Fund. The school’s Directors accompanied us and encouraged the participation of the family members present in the day’s activities. The event ended with a brief original rap song with a women’s empowerment message sung by two members of a local group.

Rap song sung at the end of the inaugural event in the community, Tres Reyes, Cancun. 1-21-15

Following, the youth-friendly services and workshops began. The services were provided by a psychologist that had recently finished a diploma course on how to provide them, organized by Red + Posithiva. Also, members of the Red + Posithiva team trained to provide rapid HIV tests offered this service.

Antonio, the project leader, speaks with the psychologist trained by Red + Posithiva on how to offer care to the list of people that had registered for counseling.

The workshops were designed by Antonio and provided by him along with other members of the Red + Posithiva team.

Antonio offers a workshop on violence and discrimination to girls at the primary school in Tres Reyes. 1-21-15

I greatly enjoyed seeing Antonio and Red + Posithiva in action! They were very creative in resolving the complications that inevitably arise in any project and are clearly very committed to providing high-quality information and services to the community. They have built alliances with the health and education sectors that could contribute to the sustainability of the project and a lasting change.

Congratulations to Antonio and Red + Posithiva!

SIF launches new fund to support adolescent health and education in Central America

 

SEATTLE — Seattle International Foundation announced today the launch of the Central America Youth Fund (CAYF), a new fund providing grant support to projects led by local young adult leaders (aged 18-35) in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico.

CAYF will address many challenges faced by young people in Central America – particularly young women – such as high adolescent fertility rates, low secondary school completion, child marriage/early unions for girls, discriminatory gender attitudes and behaviors, and inadequate provision of reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

CAYF will support young adult leaders in Central America to implement innovative projects within their organizations that are designed to demonstrate measurable impacts on girls’ equality and/or adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The fund seeks to invest more than $1 million over five years.

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This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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