As the director of programming, I’m often found in the office guiding the development of the promotora (community health worker) education curriculum. I love my job because I have the opportunity to provide the promotoras the tools they need to improve health outcomes, but I’m often a bit jealous of our volunteers who spend the majority of their time visiting beautiful Andean communities. When an opportunity arrived to accompany Docente (mentor promotora) Fani on a trip to one of our newest communities, I jumped at it.
Every Friday at 5am a truck carrying fruits and vegetables drives up to the community of Challhuaccocha. This is really the only form of transportation, so we were grateful to find a place in the bed of the truck among 25 other passengers and a host of brightly colored mantas (traditional garments). After a three hour curvy open-air ride we arrived at Lucia Castillo Yupanqui’s beautiful home in treeless valley full of llamas and alpacas. Lucia is one of our newest promotoras and Fani, as a docente, was visiting her to review her promotora contract.
Fani reviewed the promotora contract with Lucia and answered questions about the life of an Ayni Wasi promotora. (Ayni Wasi is Sacred Valley Health’s Quechua name.) After many warm greetings, we sat quietly in a circle as Fani and Lucia spoke in Quechua about the roles and responsibilities of a promotora. Lucia and her husband asked questions, and Fani thoughtfully responded.
I’m happy to report that I did nothing but enjoy the alpine view during this visit. My presence was welcomed but not needed, and this is an amazing victory for our organization, Fani and the communities we serve. The goal of the docente program is to produce local Quechua speaking leaders that can mentor a new generation of promotoras in increasingly isolated communities. Fani, a once shy promotora, was functioning as a strong community leader during her interview with Lucia. In Challhuaccocha I saw that the docente program is working.
–Written by Michelle Glatt