For World Humanitarian Day 2015, WINGS is celebrating one of our dedicated team members. A true humanitarian who provides reproductive health education to thousands of youth, women, and men in some of the most underserved communities in Guatemala, and never loses her enthusiasm and motivation! We don’t know what we’d do without her and we know that countless families throughout Guatemala feel the same.

Meet Ana Lucia…

Ana Lucía, WINGS Family Planning Educator

How did you start working with WINGS?

I started volunteering with WINGS in 2007 after having participated in a reproductive health workshop. I was so inspired by what I learned that I joined WINGS to teach other young people about sexual and reproductive health. I accepted a formal position as a Youth Educator in 2011 and since 2013, I have supervised our promoter network as a Family Planning Educator.

Tell us about the work of WINGS in Guatemala.

WINGS works to improve the lives of Guatemalan families through sexual and reproductive health education and services. We strive to reach the most remote and underserved areas, helping women decide on the number of children they want and giving them the tools to space pregnancies, with the goals of alleviating poverty and reducing maternal and infant mortality.

What are the biggest challenges facing Guatemala with regards to reproductive health?

Sexual health is still a taboo here: religion is barrier to accessing services and the education system does not help – reproductive health and family planning are not given enough attention within the education system.

What do you enjoy most about working for WINGS?

I love seeing a woman leave our clinics with the contraceptive method of her choice. It might seem like a small thing, but behind her ability to choose is a lot of effort. Our team provides information and education across the country, enabling women to make informed decisions about their own bodies; we raise funds so that we can buy and provide subsidized contraception; we work with municipal leaders and decision makers to organize numerous clinics in the communities and our team of nurses, educators, drivers, and volunteers provide their services to make these clinics a reality.

When I see women happily leaving our clinics , knowing that they can now take control of their lives and give their families a better future, this makes me really happy and proud of the work we’re doing.

And the most important part of your job…

Helping Guatemalan women. I love visiting communities, understanding the needs of women living there and then being able to help them to improve their lives through family planning. I think the most important part of my work is understanding that women have the right to freely decide if/how many children they want to have and then ensuring that they are able to make their own decisions about their reproductive health.

Why are the reproductive health services that WINGS provides so important in Guatemala?

They are important because women are dying. They are dying because they are having many children, they are not spacing their pregnancies, and have very limited access to health services. It is crucial that we continue to provide education and services and work towards a better Guatemala and a better life for future generations.

Do YOU have a question for Ana Lucía? Just ask in a comment, she will be very happy to respond!

To help Ana Lucía and WINGS reach more underserved women, men and youth and provide reproductive health education and services, please make sure you spread the word about our work with your friends and family.

To donate, follow this link: www.wingsguate.org/donate

Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment

Part III in a five part series dealing with the issue of cervical cancer in Guatemala and how WINGS is working to spread awareness and deliver much need services.

Due to the limited availability of vaccinations to prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV) in many low resource countries, the most viable method of reducing cervical cancer incidence is to adequately and efficiently screen and treat women for precancerous lesions. There are several methods of screening and treatment that significantly lower the mortality rate of cervical cancer; a few are not only easy to implement but also economically viable in low income settings. The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided guidelines for nations regarding which methods of screening and treatment are the most compatible with the country’s economic standing and existing public health infrastructure.

Regular cervical screening for precancerous lesions allows for the detection of abnormal cells and precancerous changes of the cervix before they become difficult to treat. Common screening techniques are the Papanicolaou test (the traditional Pap smear or the newer liquid based cytology test), visual inspection with acetic acid (VIAA), and a test for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

In developed or high income countries, the majority of women undergo periodic Pap tests as part of their gynecological checkups. However, in countries like Guatemala and especially in indigenous Mayan communities, not only is it too expensive for most of the population, but it is also impractical because Pap smears require tools, medical and laboratory expertise, and follow-up systems that are sometimes not available and often too expensive. In Guatemala, women may have to wait months to return to a clinical facility or to find out about their results, which  means more time, more money, and more missed opportunities. [1] more