It is a misty early morning, with clouds soaring overhead and rain spitting down. Our van winds up up up past the bustling town of Patacancha and in another 90 minutes we crest a mountain pass and then descend slowly to the scattered town of Yanamayo. The landscape is stunning. Absolutely pristine. Mountain peaks, mist and frigid glacial streams abound. Small herds of llamas can be seen in the distance. There are few trees, but we are surrounded by greening pastures that sparkle as the sun filters through the clouds.
Our vehicle slides to a stop outside of the community’s school and meeting house. The monthly meeting has yet to begin but the community is slowly assembling outside, waiting. The high-pitched voices of local school children punctuate the rain and mist. Men huddle on one side of the doorway, talking amongst themselves. Women gather on the other side of the doorway, talking.
Their hands are occupied with care of small children and spinning wool. Warm greetings and handshakes are extended upon our arrival. “Buenos dias, compañeros. Bienvenidos.” We are humbled by the warmth, the openness, the hospitality. Bright red and orange colors of our hosts’ traditional clothing, or traje, stand in sharp contrast to the gray weather and dark morning.
Yanamayo’s community president introduces SVH’s leaders and invites them to present to the assembled community members. Yanamayo is one of six remote communities in the Sacred Valley where community health workers are currently being trained by SVH. Ayni Wasi’s (SVH’s Peruvian arm) president Miguel Galdo, promotora coordinator Leticia Huanca Guevarra and SVH executive director Keri Baker each address the assembly. The meeting is conducted in Quechua, which our hosts and colleagues graciously translate into Spanish to ensure full participation and understanding of their guests. SVH’s leaders explain a proposal to collaborate with Yanamayo to create a clear map of the community and a more in-depth community census. This is part of SVH’s process of community partnership. The intent is to learn with the community about the key issues of health and wellness that they face within their community. This knowledge will guide SVH in the further training of community health workers. It will also yield a clear community map, community census and key health information about the families living in Yanamayo. This crucial data will eventually enable SVH and Yanamayo to continue their work together to improve the health and wellness of the community. Stay tuned in the coming months for more details about this process!
Written by visiting Family Nurse Practitioner Elisa Vandervort