The pictures above say it all!! I know that for you in the United States who are so used to "conferences", this is status quo. But in Guatemala this is huge!!! The fact that there are a whole room full of health promoters and midwives listening to Dr. Coral Matus and Dr. Gary Collins is huge! These are people who live in the poorest of villages in the world. These are people who have absolutely no resources and have so much suspicion of the outside world. The fact that so many of these people are there gives so much testimony to the work of these doctors.
Dr. Matus wrote.....
Three gringos educating 80 guatemalan health promoters and comedronas (nurse midwives)...now that was quite a sight! The women (and men) were delightful and very interactive. After everyone arrived (around 8:50) for the 8:00 training session, and the leaders of the training session (from the local health center) spoke for about 20 minutes. Gary, Ginny and I spent about 30 minutes talking about safe delivery, pre-eclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage, shoulder dystocia, and helping babies breathe in the first minutes of life. They seemed to enjoy the talks, but became quite animated when we broke into 'small groups' of 25 and did some 'hands on'' stations to practice what we had learned. The stories that some of the comedrona shared were amazing. There were women with 36 years experience delivering babies in their own homes (on their own beds), and young ladies who were just starting training. One more experienced comedrona demonstrated a flawless breech delivery! Most had stories of delivering footling breeches or other malpresentations successfully. They also shared many sad stories of unavoidable deaths- fetal and maternal- due to difficult circumstances with lack of emergency care. They asked some insightful questions and appreciated the 'goodie bags'.
As if Orfe doesn't have enough to do, she and her sister made sandwiches with a mixture like chicken salad for all of the people who came (120 sandwiches!). We spent some time with several of the comedronas listening to their stories and offering them support. They are very interested in learning and really truly want to help their people!!
Can you believe that several of the providers had travelled over 2 hours to come to the session!! Of course, we so happily agreed to see them in the clinic.
I have never seen so much activity on the island of Flores as there was tonight. Ismael was explaining to us yesterday that today is a special holiday in Guatemala: quema del diablo. ("burning of the devil"). The tradition is to get a piñata that is shaped like the devil (or some other doll) and burn it to get rid of all the bad/ sin in your life. 6 pm is the official time that the burning commences, and there are lots of fireworks. When we went back to the island around 7 PM, all the roads were blocked off and we had to walk to our hotel. In the streets there were dozens of tables set up with traditional Guatemalan food (they call is 'mesita', or 'small table'). We weren't brave enough to try any of the street food, but have enjoyed watching the people having a great time, enjoying the evening. The kids had sparklers and light-up toys and balloons...I'm just hoping that the fireworks settle down soon so we can get some sleep!!
Thanks for all your prayers today. Between my modest Spanish and Ismael's adequate English we seemed to connect with the group today... The courage and hope that we see in these people is amazing despite so many challenges! Thanks to all who have had a hand in this ministry!! Giving them hope and telling them that there is a God who loves them and that they are worthy of being loved is sometimes the only and best gift we can give them