This past Thursday through Sunday we split up into pairs and dispersed to six different rural villages surrounding the little town of El Corpus. The purpose was to recruit women in these rural areas to come to our clinic in Madrigales this upcoming week. Our leaders coordinated with the “promontores” (or health promoters) in the villages beforehand, to make sure we were set with lodging and had a little venue to give our charlas over the three days. By word of mouth, most of the women in the areas and in the surrounding villages knew to make their way to our talks in the mornings where they would hear “charlas” about nutrition, domestic violence, birth control methods, sexually transmitted infections, and cervical cancer.
The six groups reached between fifty and ninety women per community! Charlas were usually given over a two-to-three hour period in the mornings—beginning around 10AM in some communities to give the women time to walk from several villages over. Half of the charlas were given the first morning, and the other half were given the second morning, for the most part. There were several communities where the groups of women were different each day, and the HHA students in those areas were encouraged to repeat their talks up to three or four times – especially the STI/Cervical Cancer charla, which was revised this year, and the information was new and extremely helpful.
Each group received a packet of supplies, posters, and materials which could be made into helpful guides and interactive tools during the presentations. Everything from a detailed list of the efficacy of birth control methods, to anatomical posters, to the standard condom-and-banana combination was brought to these villages in our backpacks – via horse, or, bus, or hike, or all three! The talks were all very well-received, and there was a significant interest in the women’s clinic for the upcoming week. Each community was assigned a specific day to attend the clinic, and those that attended the charlas received a ticket to be able to be among the first women seen. This organization would allow for a more distributed patient flow, and it would make the distribution of results easier if different villages were seen on different days.
Our journeys to the villages varied greatly, as did all of our accommodations and environments. Every single HHA student definitely had a unique and memorable experience no matter where they were placed, and every group game back arguing that their location must certainly have been the most beautiful, with the greatest people. Suffice it to say that everyone is very proud and excited to see the women they spoke with at our clinic on their respective days!
Some crazy tales were told—of sleeping in hammocks, long and breathtaking hikes, uncomfortable saddles, epic makeshift-soccer matches, challenging shower situations, rambunctious barn animals, possibly-rabid bats, escaping chickens, emergency ciproflaxin, beautiful sunsets, and definitely some fantastic relationships with both the women of the village and the ever-energetic children. :-)