The Prenatal Health program is an important aspect of Mano con Mano's ministry to the rural Mayan population in Guatemala. Below is the history behind this ministry.
In September of 2004, Sara Victoria was born with a cleft lip and palate. She was 16 hours old, hungry and couldn't eat because her deformed mouth could not produce the suction needed to breast feed. Her mother had given birth to two previous children with clefts that had died of hunger at a few days old. Two cousins in the same family had also died the same way. Sara Victoria was a newborn baby girl without a name, because in Mayan tradition, babies are given names after they survive their first 30 days of life. It is less painful to bury a nameless child than one you have bonded with and named. This nameless baby was brought by her aunt to the clinic in San Rafael, El Arado, outside Guatemala city, in hopes that the "gringos" (Americans) could save her. Susan Jones decided to bring the baby home to rehydrate while waiting to find a surgeon that would help repair her mouth. Susan called her Sara Victoria, praying that God would bring VICTORY (Victoria in Spanish) over this deformity and blessing into her life. Sara Victoria's first night was spent with the Joneses.
Out of that special night of caring for a precious little girl, the Mano con Mano Prenatal Program began. Most Mayan women receive no prenatal care. Cleft lip and palate, spina bifida and other birth defects are linked to folic acid deficiency. The most important ingredient of prenatal vitamins is folic acid. In an attempt to encourage women to receive prenatal care, and therefore receive prenatal vitamins, a special class was designed for expectant mothers. The class involves health education, care of the newborn, a time of fellowship and a snack, individualized prenatal exams and care for each woman and a gift for her baby.
The program has been highly successful. After realizing that women from San Jose de Yalu didn't walk the mile to the clinic for prenatal care, because pregnancy is such a common part of life, MCM took the prenatal care to the village of Yalu. Maria Juana Can Puluc, the director of the nutrition center loaned her house for prenatal care for a year. Women received a nutritious snack, a bible lesson, a health lesson and a set of baby clothes with a hat and blanket each time they came. They heard their baby's heartbeat with a doppler provided by Seattle Community Church, and had ultrasounds provided for free through donations. Since the beginning of providing village based prenatal care in Yalu, over 100 women have received care during their pregnancies. There have been no maternal deaths and only one infant lost during childbirth. Prior to the program and the education that is designed to teach women to recognize complications, many women lost 50% of their babies during or shortly after birth. Since 2005, there has been a 99% infant survival rate in San Jose de Yalu.
Care that was once given only by Susan Jones, Anita Giagnacavo, RN is being given in partnership by Dr. Efrain Teleguario, a Guatemalan physician, a local Mayan midwife, and a US trained Certified Nurse Midwife. A Guatemalan nurse does an excellent health education and demonstration for the women. MCM field directors give a bible lesson and a time of crafts and snack is incorporated into an enjoyable 4 hour class that reaches over 30 expectant mothers each month.
What can you do to help?
If you would like more information about this ministry visit Contact Us.
If you would like to support an expectant mother in the feeding center, a tax deductible gift of $25 will support one person for a month of meals. Visit Make a Donation.