Due to the success of our current promotora (community health worker) training program, we are expanding to serve additional communities in the Sacred Valley. This morning, the SVH/ Ayni Wasi team hit the road bright and early to begin a survey of the communities near the Chilca posta (government outpost clinic). Our first step is to determine where and how we will expand – which communities we will include, what programs currently exist there, and how many promotoras we will train for each community. Many of the communities near Chilca had promotoras in the 1990s, during a government-sponsored community health effort that collapsed due to insufficient funding. One of our main goals for today was to connect with the individuals who had been involved with community health work in the past.
Our first stop was at the Chilca posta, where we picked up Rosa, the Director of Prevention and Community Health Promotion for the Chilca region. We are excited to be partnering with the posta! Rosa was an excellent addition to the team, bringing invaluable knowledge of the layout of each community. Thus began our challenge: tracking down former promotoras and current community presidents, introducing ourselves and explaining SVH’s mission of health promotion, and making the right contacts to prepare for promotora recruitment and elections.
The journey took us through seven different communities, from Piscaccucho and Olmiron to Tiaparo, Palomar, and Kamicancha. We crisscrossed the Urubamba River, wandered down windy gravel roads, and trekked across beautiful green chakras (fields of crops) nestled beneath towering mountains. In each community, we gathered data on the experience levels of former promotoras, names of leaders, community meeting times, and the geographic layout of homes and gathering areas.
We wrapped up the day in Silki and Primavera, the two communities closest to the posta. After dropping off Rosa, we drove back to Ollantaytambo energized and excited to design the next phase of SVH’s growth. Thanks to the enthusiasm expressed by many of the people we spoke with, we have high hopes for the expansion into these seven communities in the coming months.
– Written by Erica Gadzik