Last week I ventured to San Ramón, Matagalpa to work in a Casa Materna, meet some Brigadistas, and see what life as a volunteer might be like. I’m going to do a lot of work with both Casa Maternas and Brigadistas during my service, so here is a little explanation of each:
Casa Materna: A place where pregnant women wait to give birth. It is not a hospital and women do not give birth there; rather, it is a house with beds that is close to a health center or hospital. A doctor comes by once a day to give the girls checkups, and when they go into labor, the girls can get to the hospital/ health center quickly. The idea is that Casa Maternas will reduce maternal mortality simply by increasing access to hospitals.
Brigadistas: health volunteers that live in the community in which they serve. They know everything about everyone, including who is pregnant, what kids need to receive vaccines, and where everyone lives. They are trained by MINSA (the ministry of health) and make house visits to ensure that everyone in their community is healthy.
And now, Practicum Week in pictures:
Matagalpa is beautiful and there was a nice lookout behind our hotel. This one’s for you, Chip: “I remember exactly what we did at the lookout. We just looked…out…”
On Tuesday, we gave a charla about self esteem to one pregnant lady, her partera (untrained midwife), and the responsable of the Casa Materna in San Ramón. There were supposed to be seven pregnant ladies, but because of the full moon, six of them gave birth the week before. This is a true story.
Later that day, we trekked out to the home of a Brigadista to learn about her role as a health volunteer. We hiked through some nature for about 1.5 hours to get there, but there are communities in San Ramón that are even further out than that. I don’t have pictures, but this lady really knows her stuff. And grows lemons.
Since there was only one prego, the next day we took the show on the road to La Dalia, Matagalpa, which is a community with a beautiful Casa Materna and a brand new hospital. We gave more charlas and made more bracelets.
This mural was done by a PCV couple that lived in La Dalia a few years ago.
This hospital opened in December and we got to see some newborns!
On Thursday we attended a Brigadista training session at PCV Cassie’s house. They were trained by MINSA and CARE, and the event was sponsored by USAID. This was seriously cool. The Brigadistas learned strategies on how to negotiate with mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of life, as well as other useful skills.
This is a neat little bowl. Each groove represents how much a child needs to eat at each meal based on age.
Then we stopped at a lovely little snack joint outside of Estelí. I got yogurt with honey and chai tea. It was just delightful.
On the way home, we were all sorts of squished in the back of the microbus. But how do you really feel?!
Practicum week gave us all a little glimpse into what life will be like as volunteers, and it has allowed us to form a clearer picture of what characteristics we would like in a site. I have a site interview with my APCD (the boss) on Thursday, and next week, we get our site assignments. Wish me luck!