Promotoras share their knowledge with Patacancha weaving cooperative

This weekend, our promotoras (community health workers) from Patacancha made a presentation to weavers in the nearby town of Rumira. The weavers are part of a cooperative run by Threads of Peru. Promotora Victoria shared her knowledge of back pain treatment and prevention, and promotor Gabriel demonstrated tooth brushing and hand washing skills and explained why both practices are crucial for health.

Gabriel leads the group in tooth brushing.
Gabriel demonstrates tooth brushing and participants try it out.
Women line up to wash their hands.

Local weavers, and many others too, often suffer from back pain. Last year, our community needs assessments showed that back pain is the biggest self-reported health problem for women in our communities we serve. By teaching therapeutic and preventative exercises, our community health workers render a much-needed service. Promotora Victoria shared home treatments for back pain and demonstrated preventative exercises. She particularly focused on practical changes the weavers can implement while working. The audience did neck and back exercises alongside her and also practiced a method for lifting heavy objects safely.

Promotora Victoria leads the group in neck exercises.
Promotora Victoria leads the group in neck exercises.

In our recent in-school health campaigns (see posts here, here, and here), we’ve found that oral health is a major issue in rural communities. The combination of unfluoridated water and sugary drinks leads to a high prevalence of visible cavities – more than three out of four school children have at least one, and most have even more. We provide fluoride treatment along with toothbrushes and toothpaste, but more remains to be done, especially by raising awareness among adults. When promotor Gabriel described to the weavers the importance of tooth brushing, his presentation was so compelling that other community members walking by – from construction workers to mothers – stopped to listen. He also addressed the importance of hand washing and showed how to do it properly. Gabriel was energized by the positive response to his presentation and immediately suggested that he make presentations to other community groups as well.

Victoria and Gabriel both presented in Quechua, the primary language of the communities we serve. (Most people also speak some Spanish.) Their audience responded with numerous questions along with nods and murmurs of agreement and interest. Our promotores’ enthusiasm for sharing their knowledge, and the positive reception they’re getting are evidence of community members’ openness to new health and hygiene practices.

Gabriel speaks about dental hygiene.
Gabriel speaks about dental hygiene.
Victoria explains measures to prevent back pain.
Victoria explains measures to prevent back pain.

Overall, the day was a great success!

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