Saturday, April 5, 2008

Health Prevention in the Dark

I am writing this entry with some mixed emotions - but that is how things go in Peru. Per request of many of the women, I organized some health "charlas" or talks. There is a non-profit clinic near our office that was very interested in providing preventative health education to our women. When I went out visiting women in my first few months in Peru everyone told me they wanted more information and access to health information for themselves and their children. And, many women told me that they hadn't had a pap smear in years, if ever. So in combination with health charlas I wanted to offer low-cost appointments. Great!

We had our first charla on Monday and 20 women were signed up. 4 came. 40 minutes late. So we started the activity late, and we ended late - and for 2 of the women who live more than an hour away in the countryside, I know they walked home in the dark that night. I worked my butt off calling people through out the week to make sure the same thing didn't happen on Friday. The same thing didn't happen, other things did. Friday we had 20 women show up, early and on time. But, the doctors were late setting up the projector, which ended up only working for less than half of the program. And when the final presenter, a psychologist, went up do her presentation on self-esteem and family violence, the lights went out. No electricity. So there she was in the dark, women getting anxious to leave and again ending our program after sunset.

Despite my frustrations with not having control over being able to put together a "perfect" health charla, the general feedback is that the women loved the information. They learned about family planning, breast and cervical cancer, importance of paps and how to do a self-breast exam. It was lots of info., but there were also lots of questions. I guess perfection comes in all kinds of different forms.

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