It’s quite hard to believe that we are three quarters through 2017! Yikes… my blog has definitely been neglected! I’m going to give an update on the past 6 months in two parts, the first related to work/ministry.
The Casa in-country staff is now a grand total of 12, seven staff and five community facilitators, and 3 US-based volunteers. We have been taking great strides, completing our kitchen on the ground level, and daily utilizing our clinic space upstairs for prenatal care and birth attendance. To date (Nov 2016 – Sept 2017) we have 275 patients, 78 of those women already haven given birth at the Casa. Each month we’ve had between 1-6 references to the National Hospital for high risk pregnancies, totalling 30 to date. Our patients have all come from the lake region, thus far from the following towns: San Pedro, San Pablo, San Marcos, San Juan, as well as a few from the rural villages of San Juan.
Throughout these past eleven months, we have held various educational classes for pregnant mothers and their comadronas (indigenous “midwife”/birth attendant) but this September we have begun two new programs: the first being training 5 community facilitators who help us with postpartum home checkups and newborn education, and the second being a monthly class for the local pregnant women and comadronas as well as those in the 3 rural villages of San Juan.
Each month we teach the women a different topic about pregnancy, birth, care of newborns, and general health. In the villages, we promote the Casa Materna, provide them with prenatal vitamins, and provide an exam of fetal heart rate and the position of the baby. We encourage them to come to the Casa or a clinic where an ultrasound can be provided at least once before birth to confirm the position and well-being of the baby.
Our first official class was a success; although we only had a few women attend, I was able to detect a baby in a transverse position by palpation, and I encouraged this mother to have an ultrasound for confirmation being that she is nearing her due date next month. I was very happy to see her at the clinic two days later. She made the effort to come all the way to our facility, with her two little ones, for her prenatal check and ultrasound. Her baby is in fact transverse, so now we are able to provide her with the appropriate exercises and monitor her progress. Two barriers for many women getting safe prenatal care is lack of knowledge and distance to proper care facilities, so we are trying to build bridges to eliminate these barriers.
We are also providing support to our patients born with special needs and special cases such as mothers who want to give their baby for adoption. We are very grateful for the recourse of Centro Maya right here in San Juan. As well I have been consulting with some friends who run a ministry for children with special needs in many parts of the country. We are currently consulting with World Pediatric Project and they are proving to be a great resource. As we encounter new cases, we continue to broaden our horizons and make connections with more people who are helping orphans and families with few resource to find the solutions they need.
It’s hard to believe that the Casa is coming up on its one-year anniversary. It began as a dream of my friend Erica, and through the faithfulness of God we have been taking baby steps, helping those we encounter daily to the best of our ability. Our dream is to help as many as we can, and each and every person we can help have a safe pregnancy, birth, and a better quality of life is a gift to us. As long as God is willing to provide the location and resources for the Casa to function, there are able and willing hearts here serving without ceasing; I am very thankful for our dedicated Guatemalan staff and to be able to both learn and teach alongside them.
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