Peru: Healthy Communities Ready for the Harvest

Peru staff

Kyle (far right) next to in-country coordinator Martha Pineda and three community health promoters in Monterrico

In early March, as one of Grounds for Health’s new Program Managers, I made my way to Peru for my first Grounds for Health trip to the field. After many travel delays due to snow in Vermont followed by rain in Peru, I was beyond happy to be greeted in Jaen four days later by Martha Pineda Guerrero and Cristely Mejia Cordova, Grounds for Health’s Peru staff. Over the next three weeks, we would visit numerous communities throughout La Coipa district to support recently trained community health promoters, helping them give community talks on cervical cancer prevention and recruit women for a screen-and-treat campaign in April.

Community engagement is a pillar in the Grounds for Health model and is critical to the success of reducing barriers to access for women in rural, hard-to-reach places.

On one of these trips, in the community of Flor de Selva—six hours by truck off the main road and deep into the mountains of the Sierra Selva—the community health promoters held a talk one evening for women and men that had been working in the fields during the day.

In addition to a group of mothers, there were various other community members in attendance. One man came while his wife stayed home to put their children to bed, and after listening to the promoters—his neighbors—talk about the importance of screening and treatment, he signed up his wife on the spot for the April campaign.

Another attendant, a 16-year old boy, listened intently while the promoter explained the female reproductive system, cervical cancer, and VIA and cryotherapy. He was the first person to stand up after the talk and enroll his mother for the campaign. To think – a 16 year old boy living 6 hours from the nearest paved road in Peru learning about cervices! I was amazed and inspired.

Men and women listen intently as a community health promoter gives a talk.

Men and women listen closely as a community health promoter gives a talk at a school high above the clouds of La Coipa

At the end of those three weeks, I was joined by another new Program Manager Ariel Irene Delaney, the previous Senior Program Officer Rebecca Singer (who is now Executive Director at Coffee Kids), and Suzanne Germain, a devoted and long-time clinical volunteer. (It was Suzanne’s 9th campaign!)

Along with the cancer control coordinator from the local Ministry of Health and two local providers trained in 2012-2013, we executed a one-day refresher training in VIA and cryotherapy for 10 local providers. The lead cervical cancer trainer for Peru’s National Cancer Institute also attended, enabling a powerful and productive exchange of information between the national trainer setting policy and the local providers putting it into practice.

The training was followed by a four-day campaign, during which our deeply committed cooperative partners—CENFROCAFE, Sol y Café, and CAC La Prosperidad de Chirinos—provided transportation for women from the rural communities and partner support to Grounds for Health. In all, the providers screened 255 women, and all but one of the 23 VIA-positive and cryotherapy-eligible women were treated on the same day. I remain humbled and proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short time – and in a relatively calm manner! – due to the impressive teamwork, skill, and devotion of the local providers, coffee cooperatives, volunteers, and Grounds for Health staff.

Since the campaign ended, Peru staff have been following up with any referrals and delivering Pap results to women who were ineligible for VIA. All women have received appropriate care to prevent cervical cancer and have been able to resume their normal, healthy lives – just in time for the coffee harvest!


Celebrating the end of a successful campaign!

Excitement over New Executive Director, Celebration for Outgoing Leader



Guy Stallworthy from Gates Foundation Replaces Retiring Executive Director August Burns

Guy Stallworthy

Guy Stallworthy

Waterbury, VT (Marketwired) / The Board of Directors of Grounds for Health, an NGO dedicated to creating sustainable and effective cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs in coffee-growing communities, announced today that Guy Stallworthy, a Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be taking over as Executive Director in July from August Burns, who is retiring after having successfully led the organization for the past ten years. “Under August’s leadership, Grounds for Health has contributed to transform the public health sector in many of the world’s coffee-growing regions,” said Frank Dennis, President of the Board. “We are thrilled to welcome Guy to our team, as we think he possesses the skills needed to help our organization continue and expand our global work and influence.”

Mr. Stallworthy is a strategic leader with 30 years’ experience in a wide range of mission-driven health and development activities. During the past 18 years, he has focused on developing innovative service delivery models that motivate the non-state sector to provide high-quality, pro-poor services in developing countries. He has lived and worked in more than 25 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. “I am incredibly excited to be joining this vital organization,” said Mr. Stallworthy. “For nearly 20 years, Grounds for Health has been partnering with coffee-farming communities to create locally sustainable early detection and treatment programs that reduce cervical cancer in low-resource settings. I very much look forward to helping Grounds for Health achieve its long-term goal of decreasing the staggering human and financial toll of cervical cancer, a preventable disease.”

I am incredibly excited to be joining this vital organization. For nearly 20 years, Grounds for Health has been partnering with coffee-farming communities to create locally sustainable early detection and treatment programs that reduce cervical cancer in low-resource settings. I very much look forward to helping Grounds for Health achieve its long-term goal of decreasing the staggering human and financial toll of cervical cancer, a preventable disease.

Mr. Stallworthy holds two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, an MHS in International Health and Population Dynamics, and an MA in International Affairs and Economics. His experience in international public health, including his work with the Gates Foundation in funding and researching cervical cancer prevention, will enable Grounds for Health to remain and grow as a leader in community-based implementation of cervical cancer prevention programs.

Grounds for Health is grateful to Ms. Burns for her ten years of vision, expertise, and commitment. She has guided the organization from a fledgling NGO with a service project in one country, to a global leader in cervical cancer prevention in low-resource communities with programs in four countries and collaborative partnerships with 17 coffee cooperatives. Her vision and commitment to community partnerships as a key to truly sustainable development has served to make Grounds for Health a model of community-based development.

Ms Burns will continue to serve as a technical advisor to the World Health Organization on Cervical Cancer Prevention, and remains a stalwart champion of the women at the end of the road. On her successor Burns’ said “Guy Stallworthy has been a good friend of Grounds for Health for years. His strong pro-poor values and knowledge base in cervical cancer prevention ensures a smooth transition and continuation of Grounds for Health’s mission. I am delighted to hand over the leadership of this important organization to such a capable and accomplished individual”.

Amanda, Kayla, and August with San Juan de Rio Coco coop collaborators

August Burns (center in white) with staff and partners in Nicaragua – 2012

About Grounds for Health

Established in 1996, Grounds for Health partners with the coffee industry, coffee cooperatives, and ministries of health to establish sustainable cervical cancer prevention programs in coffee-growing communities. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in developing countries, yet it is one of the easiest forms of cancer to prevent through early detection and treatment. Through its community-based partnership model, which includes training community health promoters to educate and recruit women from their communities, Grounds for health is able to address barriers to access for rural women and improve health services. To ensure its programs are sustainable, Grounds for Health uses simple, safe, and inexpensive technologies that are appropriate for low-resource settings. The non-profit organization donates medical equipment and trains local medical providers so that they can continue to provide screening and treatment services after the initial campaigns. As a result, in addition to the more than 45,000 women screened through Grounds for Health programs, many tens of thousands more now have access to these life saving services through local providers in their own communities.

For more information, please contact:

Jane Dale
Development Director
Grounds for Health

SCAA Reception: April 24 @7pm

Join Us: SCAA Reception

Healthy Women, Healthy Harvest

Coming to the SCAA Event in Seattle? Join us to celebrate the women who are essential to the sustainability of the coffee industry and to raise a glass to the supporters who make Grounds for Health’s work possible.


Grounds for Health Reception: Healthy Harvest, Healthy Women
Thursday, April 24th 7-9pm PDT
Edgewater Hotel (2411 Alaskan Way) - View on Google Maps

Enjoy complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres while you mingle with Grounds for Health staff and fellow supporters.

A special thanks goes out to Farmer Brothers for making the entire evening possible.

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