Start of a beautiful promotora-ship

Last week, our docentes (mentor promotoras) and their trainee promotoras (community health workers) met officially as colleagues for the first time. All 15 women (five docentes and ten new promotoras) came down to the SVH/Ayni Wasi office from their home communities—the most distant a 2-hour ride by car—to meet one another and familiarize themselves with the office environment and program structure.

First, staff led introductions of the SVH/Ayni Wasi team, including docentes. The new promotoras followed, sharing their names and home communities. Many also shared their gratitude for being selected by their communities for this leadership role.

Gregoria Yupanqui Yupanqui, from the mountain community of Chuppani, stood up when it was her turn. She removed her hat. “I’ve never been in a capacity to help my neighbors. I’m excited to begin working with SVH/Ayni Wasi,” she said.

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Married women often adorn their monteros, or traditional Andean hats.

Staff then provided an overview of the Docente Program. Docentes receive two trainings each month on how to teach specific health topics. With the support of SVH/Ayni Wasi community coordinators, docentes will provide health trainings to new promotoras in their communities and in communities that have recently joined our network. In turn, the new promotoras will give health presentations to their community members on important topics such as basic hygiene and the symptoms of severe dehydration. For participating in program activities, such as attending docente-led trainings and giving community presentations, new promotoras will earn food incentives. These incentives include basic nutritional staples like lentils, barley, and rice.

A sample bag of incentivos, food compensation provided to the promotoras.
A sample bag of incentivos, food compensation provided to the promotoras.

Before the day concluded, docentes planned future meetings with their trainees. Such planning can be challenging, given the scarcity of reliable transportation and the agricultural lifestyle of some of the promotoras. In Chuppani, for example, residents vacate their homes during the week and travel to cabins high up in the mountains to graze their animals. If there’s anyone that can navigate these challenges, though, I’m confident it’s our docentes.

The group of docentes, new promotoras, and some of their husbands
The group of docentes, new promotoras, and some of their husbands

Written by Courtney Weintraub

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