When I was preparing to move to Guatemala six months ago to intern with Maya Health Alliance l Wuqu’ Kawoq (MHA l WK), “Why Guatemala?” was often a question posed to me by my friends and family. It was a question I found difficult to answer, since I had never set foot in Guatemala before.
But MHA l WK showed me “Why Guatemala” pretty quickly – the warm nature of the people I came to know, the daily aroma and patter of tortilla-making, the skies that stretch vast and blue over volcanoes and lakes, the many different languages and cultures that exist in the region, and the commitment that so many people share in their vision of a healthier Guatemala.
The staff at MHA l WK, people like Magali, Yoli, and Dr. Boris, are working towards a stronger and more equal health system in Guatemala. MHA l WK was founded on the simple principle that people deserve access to healthcare services in a language they can understand. Imagine for a moment trying to seek help from a doctor or nurse who can’t speak your language. It is tough to fully grasp the fear, frustration, and lack of control such a barrier places on a person’s well-being, but for indigenous Maya communities in Guatemala, who make up half the population, that is the reality. Except at Maya Health Alliance.
MHA l WK’s focus on providing healthcare in Mayan languages has expanded into a one-of-a-kind organization in Guatemala – one that provides healthcare access and follow-up care to rural Maya communities, creates local training and mentorship opportunities for aspiring nurses and doctors, and conducts research to shed light and insight into the health disparities in Guatemala.
They are changing the face of healthcare for many Guatemalans. Patients like this woman, this little girl, Josue and Yonatan. 2017 marks the anniversary of a journey that began ten years ago towards a healthier Guatemala. We need more individuals and partners to support MHA l WK to ensure that MHA l WK can continue working successfully for another ten years and beyond.