As Borat Says, “Great Success!”

SVH volunteer Erin Cooley and I have been hard at work with Huilloc promotoras Vilma, Santusa, and Teresa this month. After finishing our community needs assessment  in early July, we set out to pilot the program orientation. Our community needs assessment revealed that “gripe” (which can refer to the common cold, flu, or in more severe cases, pneumonia or bronchitis) was the most common illness among children in Huilloc. With this in mind, Erin planned a mini-training for the promotoras, which we incorporated into the orientation. The title of the lesson: Cover Your Cough!

Teaching the Huilloc promotoras about the importance of covering coughs

All in all, the orientation was very successful. All three promotoras showed up, which in itself was a big achievement. The three previous days we traveled to the nearby village of Huilloc to ensure the promtoras’ attendance and remind them of the orientation date and time. Our dedication paid off, and we all gathered at 10AM in our makeshift classroom (sitting on benches made from slabs of wood and concrete blocks) for introductions. The promotoras laughed when we said neither of us had kids or a husband because la vida es más facil así (life is easier that way!). Despite their excitement to begin training, Vilma, Santusa, and Teresa are shy, and these “ice-breakers” helped bring them out of their shells.

The mini-training was also a great confidence booster for them. We taught the promotoras the importance of cough hygiene – covering your cough with your elbow, to avoid “sharing” gripe with others. To gauge their comprehension and ability to teach the lesson at the local school, we had the promotoras teach the lesson back to us. Teresa was the first to participate. We carefully listened to her presentation in Quechua and coughed into our elbows after she demonstrated to us how to properly do so. Santusa followed shortly thereafter and was very thorough in her presentation. Vilma went last and was the only promotora who gave her presentation in Spanish. I was proud to see our promotoras take on their first task with excitement and pride.

One promotora teaching the rest of the group

Erin and I left the orientation feeling accomplished. This work can often be frustrating; one can easily spend over an hour waiting for transportation up to a community and arrive only to find that the promotoras are out tending to their animals. But after the success of the orientation, we were on cloud nine. To top it off, we hitchhiked a ride back down to Ollanta in a giant dump truck (I’ve always wanted to ride in the cabin of one of those babys) and were offered free chicha while the driver blared Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain.” Great Success!

Written by Sacred Valley Health Volunteer Amy Veinoglou

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