Everyone’s heard the saying, it takes a village to raise a child. Well, during my time at the Casa Materna, I’ve discovered that it takes the constant cooperation within many communities for us to succeed.
At a staff meeting last week, we began by giving words of thanks to fellow members of the team. As we went around the circle, I noticed a common theme. Team members consistently praised their coworkers’ tireless support and unwavering dedication. During my time at the Casa Materna, I’ve learned that it isn’t like most workplaces, and our team members aren’t like most employees. For them, there is no “off the clock.” At any time of the day or night, whether for a birth, an emergency, help in the clinic, or any other necessity, our staff shows up and always puts the wellbeing of our patients first. When it was my turn to talk in the circle, I said just that. Through all the ups and downs of managing the day-to-day operations of a (still very new) maternal health clinic in Guatemala, one thing I’ve never had to worry about is the team’s dedication to our patients and their coworkers.
I’ve also seen the teams’ support of one another when it comes to our staffs’ college studies. Three members of the clinical team (Lesly, Wendy, and Johana) are currently in nursing school, and this month, Lesly and Johana have extensive clinicals that leave them unavailable for most of each week. When discussing this with the rest of the team, it was so heartwarming to hear how enthusiastic they were to work extra hours in order to help out their coworkers. As Chusita put it, “They helped me out back when I was doing my clinicals, so of course I’ll help them.”
Other Clinics and Organizations
One of the best things an international global health initiative or organization can do is form relationships with and take advantage of other, pre-existing initiatives and organizations. In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to both strengthen existing relationships and work on new ones.
ODIM Guatemala is a local global health organization with two clinics and various programs. Recently, we were able to coordinate with them on developing and implementing information cards that pregnant women in the area can take with them to prenatal appointments at ODIM, Casa Materna, or the public health outposts. The initiative has been a great success and has allowed us all to provide even better care to our patients.
Casa Materna was honored to be invited to speak to a group of health facilitators at Project Salud y Paz in Chichicastenango. Melina spoke about pregnancy, warning signs, birth, and her own experience as a midwife. Then, I engaged them in an activity designed to make them think about the link between maternal health and women’s rights. They are such a bright group of people, and both Melina and I applauded them for wanting to help their communities.
Finally, I want to take some space to thank our donors. Although they’re far away, without their support the Casa Materna couldn’t exist. A few months ago, our General Director Dr. Erica McElroy worked with some of the Casa Materna’s donors to help create a beautiful tree of life painting. Our donors’ thumb prints make up the leaves, along with the thumb prints of our team members, added when the painting arrived in Guatemala. The team, myself included, is so grateful for this painting, and for everything the donors do to help the women of Lake Atitlán.