When I got the call about the trip I was ecstatic, but when I got the news it would be about a month I was nervous. I have never been out of the country for so long nor did I process that I’d be traveling with a coworker I had never met. But I fully took the plunge and it was the best decision I’ve made. A few weeks later I was packed up and meeting Madeleine in the Houston airport to start our adventure. We started our training in Las Negritas, a small community about 20 minutes away from Texistepeque. The group was all so welcoming and it was sweet to see how close of a community they are. Their closeness and eagerness to learn made the training days so much fun and filled with many shared stories.
After Las Negritas we stopped by to check on a few of our previously trained groups in Chilcuyo and La Y Griega. There we got to check in on their progress in teaching their own new Community Health Workers. It was great to talk to the leaders about their challenges and how they overcame them as well as discuss new topics they want to learn more about. We also got invited to a tree planting and environmental health project put on with the EU in collaboration with a few of our own Community Health Workers. There we were invited to talk a bit about the work International HELP does and how our health workers keep advancing the health of their communities beyond our training. It was lots of fun getting to learn from experts in their fields and they even taught us how they make fertilizer specifically for vegetation in the area.
After our stops in the Texistepeque area, we headed to Metapán where we met Monterey and her family, including her kiddos! We had lots of fun hanging out and exploring before getting started on our Advanced Maternal Health training with the Metapán Red Cross. This group was so much fun as they shared many stories about countless emergencies and how they adapted to them. Day three of training was quite the story as the day of birthing teaching happened to be the day they got a call from a pregnant mother who needed help. Thankfully all was well with mom and baby, but hearing how they grabbed their training manual and tried to follow as best as they could was amazing. Their attention to detail and questions throughout the day was incredible to see. We also got to see the festival of Metapán that happened to start day two of training. So when not teaching we were soaking up all the food, culture, and parades the city had to offer.
After Metapán we headed to Antigua, Guatemala for a few days as we had downtime between training and meetings. There we made many connections with a few nurses, medical students, and organizations that we hope to partner with for future projects. After Antigua, we headed to San Salvador to work on training and meeting with partners. Our training at COFAVAD was great! They loved the training as we had extra special guests to help demonstrate childhood health concerns.
While in San Salvador we had a meeting with the Santa Ana Diputado about how he might be able to help us in our projects in El Salvador and how to expand our reach as well. While there, he also offered us a tour of the government building which was fun to learn more about their government processes and new reforms coming through the changes in government.
–Monica Bates, IHELP Intern