Learning Tricks of the CHW Trade

Recently we have been getting out of our hiking boots and Patagonia pull-overs and into skirts and button-up shirts to attend meetings with various organizations in the Sacred Valley who are doing similar work. We hope to learn as much as possible about the implementation of community health worker (CHW) programs during these early stages of program implementation, so as to avoid any programmatic glitches in the future.

One organization we’ve been fostering a relationship with is Caritas del Peru in Cusco. Caritas’ mission is to promote a just society in which men and women live in peace and in which their dignity and rights are protected. As part of their health initiative, Caritas runs a well-established and successful CHW, or promotor, program in several communities in the Cusco area. Caritas has generously shared with us invaluable pieces of advice that are in fact helping shape our program during its nascency. For example, we took a look at Caritas’ curriculum materials and learned that their teaching methods for instructing newly elected promotoras are both practical and manageable. The curriculum units include videos, educational games, and group brainstorming sessions. As we piece together our own health curriculum targeted toward indigenous Quechuan women, some of whom do not speak Spanish, we are grateful to receive insight on how to effectively convey teaching materials to our eager promotoras.

Last week we also met with DESEA Peru, another CHW program about two hours from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. One of the main themes reiterated by DESEA Peru was the importance of incorporating women’s empowerment into our trainings. Some of the women we work with are shy by nature, and it will be important to empower, excite and inspire them to take active roles within their communities. It is our hope that our promotoras will not only provide valuable basic and emergency health services to community residents, but also serve as advocates for their community’s well-being and become agents of social change in the area. For this reason we are coming up with creative ways to incorporate leadership and empowerment activities into our trainings.

A big thanks to DESEA Peru and Caritas for all their advice!

These recommendations are crucial to the planning process, especially now as we are in the midst of organizing our up and coming Orientation Session for all promotoras this August. By that time, we’ll be ready to strap on the hiking boots once more and set out to all seven communities to orient and inspire our first team of promotoras!

Written by Sacred Valley Health Volunteer Amy Veinoglou

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