Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Circle of Wise Women

Last week, while Sister Eleanor Gilmore (founder of PazSalud) and Kathy Garcia were both here in El Salvador, we called together some of the people who've been our partners on our health missions to gather their ideas on how we can stretch and improve our collaboration with the people of El Salvador.  It's probably not entirely a coincidence that they are all women, though we've also had some amazing men working with us.  Here we are at lunch after the serious discussions: on the bottom row, left to right, Dora Alicia Alas (also known as Iris), a CIS organizer and our coordinator in San Rafael Cedros; me; Kathy; and Dina Dubon, a social worker with Caritas El Salvador and our coordinator in San Juan Opico.  Top row, Leslie Schuld, Director of CIS (Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad); Rosy Melara, from Hospital San Rafael, who volunteers as our surgery nurse; Rosa Aguiar, of the Alcaldia de Comasagua, who volunteers in our Eyes clinic; and Sister Eleanor.

We talked about the possibility of working with a circuit of municipalities instead of going to a different one each year; we talked about how we can incorporate workshops and perhaps clinics from Salvadoran specialists on subjects like family planning or diabetes prevention and nutrition into our offerings.  We looked at stressing the importance of getting a pap smear in our women's clinic, and the necessity for followup on positives.  We talked about how to break through the fears that keep many seniors from getting the cataract surgery that they're qualified for.  We talked about cooperating more closely with the local government health clinic, the Unidad de Salud.  We talked about how our water filter program can begin to educate the whole community on the importance of clean water.

We came away from this circle of wise women with great ideas for the future, especially for the ways we can partner with Salvadoran organizations to have a long-term positive effect on the health of the communities we work with.  Gracias for the wisdom!

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