As the rainy season begins, Sacred Valley Health/ Ayni Wasi staff members are making overnight stays in some the remote communities that we serve. The overnights make a lot of sense logistically since wet, muddy roads make transportation a time-consuming challenge. The overnights also present an incredible opportunity to deepen our understanding of the communities in which we work.
Earlier this week, I (Community Coordinator Sarah), was graciously welcomed into the homes of two of our newer promotoras, Ignacia and Valentina. Early Monday morning, SVH nurse Leticia and I hiked up to Ignacia’s community of Marcuray for her first presentation at her community’s general assembly. We arrived to find Ignacia’s home overflowing with energy, as her twin girls wrestled with their morning hair tangles, and their youngest, who is nearly three years old, marched around with her beloved teddy bear. After reviewing the training materials on treating dog bites, the topic she was most eager to teach, Ignacia went up to the central meeting space to announce that day’s meeting. Her voice was certainly heard, as nearly 30 people soon gathered. It was a joy to witness Ignacia’s natural leadership as she taught fellow community members how to treat dog bites, which occur often here since so many dogs are trained to guard their families’ homes.
After a day of hard work, I was thrilled to prepare one of my favorite foods, guacamole, to go alongside the Peruvian staple food of potatoes for dinner at Ignacia’s home. The combination was a big hit. After some muña (Andean mint) mate and a small dance party with the little ones in the kitchen, we all headed to the nearby water source to brush our teeth together under the full moon. After a great night’s sleep on the sheepskin bed Ignacia prepared for me, it was time to hike over the hillside to Rayan, where I found Valentina calling together another meeting on behalf of Ayni Wasi (the Quechua name under which Sacred Valley Health operates in Peru).
Even though Marcuray and Rayan are only a twenty minute walk apart, the differences between them are noticeable. Rayan has approximately half the number of households and appeared far more spread out along a mountainside. It is a little further away from the main road and perhaps it is this added distance that has resulted in less health access. In Marcuray, 28% of households have chimneys, 83% have at least one toothbrush, and one household has a bathroom. In Rayan, on the other hand, only one household has a chimney, less than a third of households have at least one toothbrush, and no household has a bathroom.
Once the women of Rayan gathered, Promotora Valentina showed them the pamphlets on healthy pregnancy that she had received from the government clinic with which we partner. Valentina gracefully facilitated the sharing of experiences and challenges related to health among these mothers, two of whom were breastfeeding during the meeting. It was clear that these women have a strong sense of solidarity with one another.
Sulpayki (thank you) to our incredible promotoras for opening up their homes to the SVH family. We are deeply grateful for their friendship and dedication to our programs. Stay tuned to hear about our next overnight visits in Yanamayo and Kelccanka in December. In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving!
– Written by Sarah Phillips