Although there currently are no volunteers at Project Las Delicias, the FIMRC mission is alive and well! Dra. Tania Lopez shared with FIMRC some of the progress made at Project Las Delicias, and how they've continued to work in a clinical setting as well as health education programming by taking advantage of local volunteers. Three rock stars in particular, Azucena, Fatima, and Ceci, have been incredibly helpful in establishing the programs and providing health education for the community! As time at Project Las Delicias has passed, however, Dra. Tania started noticing a change that was needed; with the help of FIMRC staff and volunteers, she has begun to implement programs that center around teenagers. Focusing on younger generations in the community helps to ensure that what is being taught will become a part of their upbringing, and instill healthy habits from a young age. Two programs in particular that were started earlier this year are the Parenthood Planning Program and the Empowering Teens Program.
The Parenthood Planning Program was started for 3 main reasons:
1. Las Delicias no longer has a health promoter, and so women had lost access to parenthood planning resources.
2. The Zika virus remains a serious threat to giving birth to babies with microcephaly
3. Teenage pregnancies are increasing, now representing 21% of all pregnancies in El Salvador
With teens and families facing these daily risks, Dra. Tania and the FIMRC staff wanted to ensure that the community continued to have access to preventative educational programming. The Parenthood Planning Program helps families take the necessary precautions, but also learn about how to minimize the risk if they are affected. The program aims to educate teenagers on reproductive health, as well as offer accessibility to birth control methods. With this program being so new, FIMRC staff and local volunteers have held "charlas" once a month on woman health and sexual and reproductive health. Beginning in February with 7 participants, the program now has 24 participants! Out of the 24 participants, 25% are teenagers. The growing number of participants demonstrates that women are growing more conscious about their sexual and reproductive health, which is a great success!
Inspired by the fact that teenage pregnancies were on a rise, as well as the rise of gangs, FIMRC's programs & staff aim to focus on the most vulnerable population. This is why we've started to work closely with the local public schools by giving "charlas" (talks) that are rarely given to them on different matters, such as leadership and sexual and reproductive health.
We have also trained 2 teenagers as assistants at the clinic. Fatima and Cecilia are true success stories as they come from tough backgrounds and home environments, but they push through and grow and learn more every day. They come in everyday to help out by taking vital signs and giving charlas while patients are waiting; they also accompany volunteers around the community. To thank them for their contribution, we are not only training them on health topics but we are also offering them scholarships for English as a second language classes. The scholarships are funded through volunteers who have come to El Salvador and have had the opportunity to get to know them and work with them.
This program aims to empower young women so they are conscious of the importance of working within their community and becoming leaders.
Although there have been challenges faced by the team and community at Project Las Delicias with basic factors like personal hygiene to more complicated factors like teaching proper nutrition to patients with Diabetes or hypertension, Dra. Tania is confident that by incorporating the younger generations into the health initiatives there will be a greater change. They have already seen so much improvement with this group of community members, including their English skills! The FIMRC family looks forward to continuing to see progress in the community as a whole, and begin to see the younger generations implement what they're learning through the health education programs.