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New Clinic in Chiapas!

On Monday, August 15th, Grounds for Health (GFH) partner cooperative Comon Yaj Nop Tic (Mayan for Todos lo Pensamos/ We all think together) held their annual member meeting and celebrated the inauguration of their new clinic in Chiapas, Mexico. GFH started working with Comon Yaj Nop Tic in December 2010 and they hosted our training and screening campaign in April 2011. Under the guidance of their inspiring coordinator Cecy, a local dedicated nurse Tere, and their hard-working board and staff–this cooperative has turned their dream of providing accessible, high-quality health care for their members into a reality.

For weeks, they worked to renovate a space at their organization’s offices. They painted the room, cleaned and made trips into the city to make sure they had everything they needed. The clinic will be open on Fridays and Comon Yaj Nop Tic has invited members from three other local cooperatives to utilize services at the clinic as well. It will be staffed by a rotating team of two doctors and two nurses, with a community health promoter working as an assistant. The focus of their care will be to provide cervical cancer screening and treatment with cryotherapy. GFH local doctor Lupita and Cecy have coordinated a schedule with the previously-trained community health promoters to continue bringing high-risk women from their communities to the clinic and to expand upon their promoter trainings. The clinics are also outfitted to provide basic medical consults on an as-needed basis thanks to a generous supply of medications donated by the local hospital, and a glucometer to check blood sugars, stethoscope and blood-pressure cuff. All services will be provided completely free of charge and all involved providers will be donating their time.

At the inauguration, the incredible motivation and success of this cooperative was celebrated by many who have played integral roles in supporting Comon Yaj Nop Tic and the cervical cancer prevention project in the region. The local municipal government in La Concordia, under the generous guidance of presidenta Yanet and Dr. Rafael, has pledged support in the form of sharing Dr. Rafael’s services to the clinic on a monthly basis and supplying other medications. The day also rang with success for Silvia, the coordinator from the original GFH partner-cooperative in the region CESMACH. She has tirelessly worked for five years with Grounds for Health and was responsible for recruiting the 3 other cooperatives to join the project. Upon touring the clinic, the first reactions of the presidents, coordinators and leaders of CESMACH and Triunfo Verde (another local partner cooperative) were, “When can we get started on ours?” They have already agreed to work together, starting this week, to turn a space at CESMACH’s offices in Jaltenango into a clinic. This will allow access to services for many other members located far from Comon Yaj Nop Tic’s offices.

All of the members of this amazing cooperative were also in attendance and I spoke with some of them after the inauguration. One member who I had first met when I headed into one of the more rural communities to look for a promoter approached me with a contagious smile. He had voiced his initial support for the project at our encounter in February, used his truck to help transport women during the campaign in April, and now proudly said, “Esto es un sueno hecho en una realidad para nosotros… y en tan poco tiempo/ This is a dream come true for us… and in such a short amount of time.”

It is with a hint of sadness that I conclude this update from back home in the United States. My six months in Mexico have come to an end as I prepare to begin a midwifery program in the fall that will hopefully allow me to continue working with GFH in the future and return to work side-by-side with all of the inspiring people I had the honor of working with in Mexico. Regardless of what the future holds, I shall carry with me the very valuable lesson that Chiapas has taught me: with love, kindness, and teamwork in its most genuine sense, it is possible to turn dreams into reality. A most sincere thank you to everyone who has made this possible.

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