Three years ago when our family was visiting Antigua, Guatemala on spring break, we ran across this incredible non-profit, Wings Guatemala, founded by a former US Peace Corp worker. The staff couldn't have been more welcoming when we called to see if we could visit their office (5 minute walk from our hotel). As supporters of reproductive rights in the US, I wanted to show our son and daughter what the effort looked like in a Latin American country. We have just come home form our third visit to Antigua and stopped by Wings again to be given an update on the important work they do insuring that indigenous women and men have access to reproductive healthcare in a country where the government provides few services.We were so pleased to hear that they continue their crucial work throughout Guatemala as well as in La Antigua (A UNESCO world heritage site that should be on everyone's Latin American itinerary)We will be increasing our support for their good work, and were inspired, as we always are, after talking to Dr. Rodrigo Barillas, Executive Director and their new Development and Communications Director, Kirsten Taylor.
The lack of use of contraceptive methods remains a pervasive issue in Guatemala. Even though the 98% of the population declares to know at least one contraceptive method, data shows that the 26% of births attended in the country are from girls between the age of 10 and 19. Promoting contraceptive methods and encouraging a behaviour change towards the better use of contraception has proven to be a very challenging issue in Guatemala, especially in rural areas. The myths and misunderstandings surrounding family planning and the coercion of religious and traditional beliefs lead to a strong rejection for birth control.
WINGS is an amazing NGO that works all over the country providing contraception and sex education. WINGS has three main projects: (1) a promoters' network; (2) mobile clinics; and (3) a youth training programme.
WINGS has over 50 promoters all over the country. These promoters are people –mostly women- that provide short-term contraception in their communities. WINGS provides them with all the necessary materials (pills, injections, sterilisers) and they train the promoters around sexuality and reproductive health issues. This gives inhabitants from isolated villages the opportunity to access birth control.
Regarding the mobile clinics, WINGS has a permanent clinic in La Antigua and two vans that carry all the materials needed to provide cervical cancer screenings, place long-term contraception and do sterilisation surgeries. Each van travels at least three times a week to rural areas, where they do free sessions to offer the mentioned services. Approximately 20 people are attended in each session.
Finally, there is a Youth Volunteer Training Programme, where they train people between the age of 14 an 19 about sexuality issues, including diversity, contraception, STDs and gender equality. The aim of this programme is to select young rural people that will later transfer their knowledge to their friends and classmates in their communities.
WINGS Guatemala 08/03/2017
Oihane - you such an incredible intern!!! We are so lucky to have you with us!
I just finished an internship with WINGS and LOVED my experience there. I was surrounded by dedicated, hard-working individuals who truly believed in the cause they were working toward. They are committed to providing high quality services to all patients they serve.
WINGS Guatemala 08/03/2017
We loved having you with us last month, Morgan!! You are welcome back anytime!