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.
As the former Communications Coordinator for WINGS, I was able to spend time in the field interviewing women, men, and youth about their participation in WINGS' program. I heard so many touching stories about how the organization had made an impact on the lives of the participants and their families. I also heard many vehement thank-yous which convinced me how directly donations to WINGS make a difference to families who need the most help. On an organizational level, from the time before I was employed by WINGS, until the current day, I have been impressed by WINGS' model which employs educators on the ground to reach out to their own communities in a culturally sensitive way. It is also admirable that WINGS continues to strive to improve their outreach strategy. Overall, I highly recommend this organization.
This program is almost a one of a kind here in the Antigua Guatemala area. It is so desperately needed, and they do so much. I assist a family of shoe shiners, Papa, Martin (16), Gregorio (15), Juan Carlos (14) and Luciano (9). The family lost a baby girl to pneumonia about a year ago because they could not afford proper care. Eight months ago they had another baby, Israel, there happens to be another brother around 19 who lives in Quiche, never comes to Antigua, but I just know they are going to try for another girl. I have sat Martin down and had him watch your site page with teens talking to teens, but Papa is way out of my league. You are a great program, desperately needed.
I have been fpllowing the work of Wings for several years and their approach to addressing the needs of families is very innovative, effective and important. An example of their work that I have found impressive is meeting with membets of the army and educating them about family plannng and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Also Wings trains local community members to share information about the importance of spacing children and other reproductive health issues.
I visited the Wings office and talked with staff when I was in Guatemala a couple years ago. (I was part of Social Work Graduate School trip.) We found the staff to be very sincere and informed, but also gentle and kind. I came away confident that they are doing important work, in a very competent, culturally appropriate way. Family life is truly enhanced by their efforts.