Ana Isabel is a 31-year-old mother of three from the rural community Pueblo Viejo. She spends her days caring for her home and children, while her husband works in the fields. Ana Isabel had her first child, a baby girl, at the age of 20. It was an unplanned pregnancy, as she knew almost nothing about family planning methods at that time.
“Back then, this wasn’t talked about. I don’t know why; but even our parents didn’t talk to us about it. And on the occasions when our parents did talk about these topics, they would ask us to leave the room or they would send us somewhere else where we couldn’t hear anything. We were told that it was adult stuff, so they refused to talk about it.”
After her first pregnancy, Ana Isabel started to hear a bit more about contraceptives from other people in her community. But all the information made her believe contraceptives were dangerous.
“I heard about birth control, but I was afraid to use it because people told me that it caused diseases. I was also told that it would dry up my cervix and that I wouldn’t be able to have kids after, so I got scared.”
Eventually, after her third child Ana Isabel began using the 3-month injection to plan her family and continued using that method until recently, when she decided she wanted to have another child.
A woman in Ana Isabel’s community told her that WINGS’ mobile medical team would be offering a family planning and cervical cancer prevention mobile clinic in their community. Ana Isabel decided to attend and undergo a cervical cancer screening. She shared, “…the reason I wanted to get a cervical cancer screening was that I can’t manage to get pregnant, and I would love to have another baby.” Ana Isabel admitted that before the mobile clinic, she didn’t actually know what cervical cancer was, but thought she might have some illness and maybe WINGS could help. “Sometimes, because of ignorance, we don’t know what goes on inside us, and we can’t afford getting a checkup. So, when a mobile clinic comes here, we have to take advantage of it because it helps us. We can’t go to hospitals because it would be too expensive, and here, we don’t have the means to afford those services.”
Thankfully, the results of Ana Isabel’s cervical cancer screening were negative. WINGS’ nurses did detect a common sexually transmitted infection during the exam, and gave Ana Isabel counseling and treatment for herself and her husband. WINGS’ mobile team are happy to have provided reproductive health services for Ana Isabel, which she could not afford elsewhere. Ana Isabel left well-informed about her personal health and with the reassurance that she did not have cervical cancer.
WINGS’ Mobile Units travel to many remote, rural communities each month to provide long-acting reversible contraception and cervical cancer prevention services. We put every effort into reaching Guatemalans who normally don’t have access to these services. We dispel myths about contraceptives and raise awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of regular screenings. Each clinic brings women the power to control their reproductive health and lives. It is thanks to your support that we can continue reaching even further. Support our year-end campaign Reaching the Unreachable this December to help.
In Guatemala, it is not common for men to get vasectomies. There are many taboos about vasectomies in this country; some men think they will not be able to have sex again, some think they will not be able to have an orgasm again, and many others believe reproductive health and family planning should only be a woman’s responsibility. When a man does get a vasectomy at our clinics, we like to interview them to learn more about their experience.
For the tenth story in our series 15 Stories for our 15th Anniversary, we’d like you to meet 35 year old Daniel, who was born and raised in Guatemala City. He recently moved to Antigua to start a restaurant. Daniel first heard of WINGS through a friend, and he mentioned that it became his only option when considering places to get a vasectomy at. Daniel got his vasectomy at the WINGS clinic in Antigua. Watch this short video interview to learn about why he decided to get a vasectomy and how he learned about reproductive health when he was younger.
Be sure to click on the subtitle icon so you can enjoy the video with English subtitles. The subtitle icon is the first one on the lower right corner of the video. (See green arrow below.)
As Daniel said, getting more men involved in reproductive health can be a challenge, but at WINGS, we are already seeing changes. We have many young men in our Empowered Youth groups, we’ve witnessed many men accompanying their wives to our mobile and stationary clinics as a show of support. Just in 2016, 100 men have gotten a vasectomy through WINGS!
We’d like to thank Daniel for opening up about his very personal reasons for choosing not to have children. It is difficult to discuss mental health in a conservative country like Guatemala, where there are many judgments and prejudices surrounding this topic, so we are very grateful to Daniel for trusting us and for his courage to speak up.