Sunday, June 30, 2013

Community Stay

Today, Sunday, we returned from our community homestays back to El Corpus. In pairs and threes, we separated into six different communities surrounding El Corpus: Guasaule, Guanacaste, Papalon, Espaveles, Portreritos, and Los Terreros. Between a mix of bus rides, hikes and horseback rides (for some) we left El Corpus on Thursday morning and arrived that afternoon. We spent time with our homestay families, many of whom have hosted HHA students for years and years.  We brought games and spent the afternoon playing with the kids, setting up our hammocks to sleep in, and chatting.

On Friday and Saturday, we gave charlas to women in our respective communities. The charlas covered family planning & cervical cancer, STIs/HIV, nutrition, menopause and domestic violence. The charlas were well attended, with one community hosting over 90 women. Through a mix of didactic teaching, skits, games, and group activities we reviewed pap smears, different options for family planning, how to protect against STIs, how to plan healthy meals, what to expect in menopause, and defined domestic violence and possible resources for those in need.  We also explained the services HHA offers at clinic and informed womenof their clinic date. 

In the time between charlas we had ample time to get to know our host family. In Guanacaste Amber (MS4) and I (Christina, MS2), brought cards and played hours of games on the porch with the 5 kids that lived in our homestay. We also went down to the river where they got water and washed clothes to hang out swim a little. We were invited to a Catholic celebration of a saint which was full of singing, guitars, and special treats (Coca Cola & coffee). We also got to spend time with two of the older sisters who were visiting their parents, one with a newborn in tow. Our homestay father, Rufino, is the health promoter and worked hard to recruit a total of 84 women to our charlas. Rufino and his wife Rubelina have hosted HHA students for 7 years. Many of the MS2s return as MS4s to the same community (Amber, for example). In this case, both the family and the student are excited to see familiar faces and deepen ties.

The homestay experience is such key part of the HHA program. It allows us time to educate women about what our clinic offers, build relationships with community members, and gain perspective on where the women in our clinic come from. In the charlas, we learn much about women’s knowledge base and experience with the different subjects at hand and thus have a better launching point for conversations in clinic. HHA’s presence and partnership with these communities over the years is a privilege to be a part of.

Our first day of clinic is tomorrow! The doctors (2 family medicine residents and 1 OB/GYN attending) arrive tonight. We will meet at Juana’s house to meet them and go over clinic this evening. More to come.

Christina teaching charlas in Guanacaste.

Amber with host family kids!

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