The Sacred Valley was my home for one year, and I served as its incipient Media and Development Coordinator. I came to Sacred Valley Health a as a Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) Fellow, with a particular interest in observing socially responsible international development organizations in Latin America. I sought a deeper understanding of the challenges, as well as the opportunities, for equitable development in indigenous communities.
While living and working in Ollantaytambo for a year, I became familiar with many organizations, in addition to SVH that provided services to underserved Andean communities. I saw so many good projects chipping away at perceived obstacles to development. In my view, SVH’s vision to create health advocates and agents of change within the communities is one that largely preserves the dynamic of the Andean populations served. Its model converts highly capable local people into health resources for their neighbors. It’s hard work, for sure, but I admire the simplicity of the model.
This past June, I returned to the States determined to apply what I learned at Sacred Valley Health. I’m currently in the first phase of my path toward becoming a nurse and health educator and hope to eventually become an advocate for health system reform, expanding health access in a similar way the promotoras improve access. It’s doubtful that SVH promotoras Beatriz, Teresa, or Margarita would describe themselves as health system reformists. They are, however, changing the way health is understood amongst their neighbors. They ease the burden placed on low-capacity health systems by instilling the value of preventive health practices in their communities.
I give back to Sacred Valley Health because I believe in its model of development of community empowerment through the skills training of local promotoras. I give back because I admire the work the promotoras do and the dedication and humility with which they do it.
I came to Sacred Valley Health a year and a half ago with an open-ended interest in NGO work in Latin America. I left wanting to be a promotora myself.