At Sacred Valley Health, my main project was to help develop and implement the advanced certification women’s health pilot program. This pilot program trains advanced promotores (community health workers), those who have completed at least two years of trainings, on key women’s health topics. The promotores will conduct targeted home visits to women at different stages of their lives (i.e., pregnancy, breastfeeding, reproductive age) and a baseline household survey to 1) identify women eligible for targeted home visits and 2) gather data on what women in the community know about women’s health.
I designed resources, or recursos, for our promotoras on topics such as family planning, healthy pregnancy, pre- and post-natal care, birth, and infant nutrition. It was challenging to create these resources in a culturally relevant way, while also making them accessible to a low-literacy population. We drew heavily on the knowledge of the promotores and our Peruvian staff members to develop clear and effective recursos. The promotores in this pilot program were excited to learn this information for the first time and share this knowledge with women in their communities.
The other main part of my job was to work closely with three promotores from two communities. Anastacio from T’astayoc, the only advanced male promotor, was the most challenging to communicate with because he only speaks Quechua (Peru’s indigenous language) and is illiterate. Therefore I worked with Escolastica, one of our Peruvian staff members who speaks both Spanish and Quechua, to support Anastacio. Working with Teresa and Santusa from the town of Huilloc, just 45 minutes away via public transportation, was much easier as they both speak Spanish and can read and write. My role was to review curriculum with the promotores, troubleshoot any problems in the communities, and supervise home visits and community presentations. My favorite days were spending time with the promotores in their communities, watching them help their neighbors!
I truly believe in Sacred Valley Health’s mission to promote health in the underserved rural communities of Peru’s Sacred Valley, through increasing and promoting access, education, and community empowerment. I will miss working with the promotores, staff, and my fellow volunteers. Thanks to the support of a Christianson Grant from the InterExchange Foundation, I am ready to start my career with a deeper understanding of global health challenges and cultural exchange through my experience in Peru. I am thankful for my time at Sacred Valley Health and can’t wait to see its growth in the future!