Julie Bowser joined the MHA | WK team in January 2016, to investigate midwifery and women’s health practices in Guatemala for the next three months. Originally from Ontario, Canada Julie first came to Guatemalan 3 years ago, when she worked for a NGO based in Xela. She loves to hike, and is currently studying at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Katia and I wait on the side of the road for a camioneta (bus). We are heading to observe a day’s work in the Wuqu’ Kawoq’s clinic based in Socorro. The travel to the clinic from Tecpán is generally three-hour descent into the sticky, humid heat of the Bocacosta but today it will take us four.
When we get there, women are sitting outside on the steps of the clinic with children tied to their backs or playing in the front yard. Glenda and Irma, the two nurses who run the daily ongoings of the clinic, are halfway through their morning’s work.
Katia and I enter to observe a consultation of a patient who has diabetes. The patient’s health, luckily, has been improving. He sought health care from a private doctor before coming to Wuqu’ Kawoq. He says the cost of the consultation was 2500 quetzales and an additional 400 for pills. He told us the pills were bad and didn’t work. Glenda nods. It seems she has heard this story before. She says that at the patient’s first visit to the Wuqu’ Kawoq clinic he weighed only 80 lbs. Now he’s closer to one hundred.
Glenda does a home visit for her next patient. The woman sits under the rain cover of her outdoor kitchen while Glenda pricks the patient’s finger for blood. “Estamos mejorando,” she says, we’re improving. When we leave I ask Glenda how often she does home visits. A few times a week. “Cuando no vienen, hay que buscarles.” When they don’t come, you must seek them out.
After the home visit, Katia and I spend some time in the clinic watching WK nurse, Irma, do check-ups with small children and mothers before heading back up the mountains where the air is colder.