It was the last day of our training and campaign in San Juan de Rio Coco. Women were still waiting to be screened and a few women were waiting for cryotherapy. I was sitting outside in the waiting area chatting with a group of the coordinators from the coffee cooperatives, the rest of our US-based staff and volunteers.
Yes, there were women to be screened, yet we were all sitting around chatting. About VIA. About coffee. About our families. We were no longer hovering over our newly trained providers, supervising their skills and guiding them as they did VIA and cryotherapy. Now that role was being fulfilled by our stellar Nicaraguan training team.
Dr. Lilliam, Milagros and Damaris were introduced to Grounds for Health in September 2011 and immediately became star pupils. They quickly saw the advantages of using VIA and cryotherapy to screen and treat patients who came to the hospital and local health centre in San Juan de Rio Coco, and they developed the technical skills necessary to provide high quality care.
During her supportive supervision visits, Grounds for Health’s in-country physician Dra. Barinia noticed that these three providers possessed more than just the technical skills. They were also compassionate, warm, friendly, attentive and respectful—all skills that would make them excellent trainers. When Dra. Barinia asked them if they would like to help us train this May, they quickly said, “Si!”
Yet, on the first day of the training, it became clear that they were natural born trainers. They went beyond merely teaching the most important ideas about cervical cancer, VIA and cryotherapy. They peppered their presentations with personal stories about the women they had screened and treated. They wrote a song about VIA. They led spirited games testing the knowledge of the participants.
Within just one week, these three providers moved far down that path from being competent providers to being trainers. The proof was in the 10 newly certified health care providers who benefited from the training skills of Dr. Lilliam, Milagros, and Damaris.