“A mother is the force of love and grace that exceeds and conquers all the forces of evil.” —Josep Torras
Each morning, when the students of Safe Passage walk into their classrooms, they have already overcome numerous hardships just to achieve the simple act of crossing that threshold. This success rests on the hard work and support of their mothers; women who themselves fight each day to hope and to thrive in the face of oppressive circumstances; women who strive to succeed not only for themselves but also for their children.
At Safe Passage, we want to provide these remarkable women with the care they need to continue being that force of love and support for their children. To that end, in November, we partnered with WINGS, a local reproductive health organization, to provide cervical cancer screenings to 114 moms.
Cervical cancer is a serious health concern across the world. In Guatemala, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women 25 years and older and the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women of all ages. Early detection of cervical cancer can drastically improve outcomes, but it is estimated that just 10% of women in Guatemala have been screened.
While the moms of Safe Passage understood the importance of being screened, many felt nervous about actually receiving the exam. Preventive exams are not as common practice in Guatemala as in the United States, for example, and many of the moms who came last week reported that they had only had pelvic exams during pregnancy. To try to help with those nerves and to celebrate their decision to take a positive step for their own health, we offered other activities while they waited to be seen.
With the help of two massage therapists and a number of Safe Passage volunteers, we set up a spa room offering manicures and massages before and after being screened. Moms could also step into the room next door and distract themselves watching a movie or participate in a yoga class led by Hannah, the Creamos Voces Program Manager. Many women over the course of the two- day event told us that they weren’t planning on coming until they heard there would be spa treatments and we watched mom after mom leave quite a bit more relaxed than she arrived.
These opportunities for both physical, medical self-care as well as emotional pampering are too few and far between for the mothers of the Safe Passage community and we are so pleased to have been able to collaborate with WINGS to offer critically important cancer screenings to 114 of our mothers.
Thank you to all the donors and volunteers who made this event not only possible but a huge success. We have already been asked by a number of the moms who attended when we will be offering these services again so that they can refer their sisters and mothers and friends. We hope to be able to do so very soon. The more women in the community that we are able to reach, the higher our chances are of detecting, and hopefully preventing, life- and family-threatening health issues.
-Eleanor Unsworth, Health Education Coordinator
How can you help? Make a donation today to give our Health Program the support it needs to continue providing crucial preventative care services to our community.