Today was our first time visiting the remote Mayan communities with Maye, a nurse from the NGO. We left the office of Wuqu’Kawoq at 7:30 to take the direction of Panavajal. We quickly move away from paved roads to take rocky paths and constantly redesigned by the rains. The car went downhill when we arrived at the top of one of the mountains that make up the area around Tecpán. On the horizon, three volcanoes rise while the greenery of the cultivated fields lines the foreground. Along the main road are glimpses of the villages that are isolated and difficult to access.
While she is used to taking the bus and then walking, Maye guided the driver of our car to the house of the first patient of the day. She has been a nurse in Wuqu’Kawoq for less than a year, as part of the Salud Movíl program. It incorporates the use of a phone application used by nurses from local communities, so that they can call Wuqu’Kawoq in case of emergency. As part of this program, Maye tracks patients from Mayan communities who are pregnant or have just given birth.
Usted no debe tener que elegir entre su cultura y su salud.
The first patient was Leticia M., who is 23 years old. We met her as she sat on her bed, where she gave birth 24 days ago to a little boy who did not have a name yet. Maye conducted her consultation in Kaqchikel, took Leticia’s blood pressure, and cared for the baby. We admired Maye’s sweetness, as she took the time to explain to the young mother Wuqu-Kawoq’s health assistance program and listened to each of her needs.
Maye asks all her patients to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 – symbolized by happy and dissatisfied faces – the quality of the health services provided by the public authorities. The responses do not reach more than 2/5: the main argument is due to the impossibility for these women to be understood because they rarely provide services in Kaqchikel.
We encountered difficulties to justify our presence with the second family, especially because the husband of the patient labeled us as “gringos,” in view of our skin color, and was unreceptive of our arrival. The patient, 28 years old, was about to give birth to her sixth child. Once we left their home, one of which was more isolated than the previous, Maye explained that she found the consultation difficult because of the presence of the husband. Without saying another word, Maye explained that “here, men often decide for women”.
We then went to meet a third patient, who lives in a less rudimentary house. The presence of windows and the volume of the room were all indications that allowed us to make this last observation. As in other houses, religious symbols were the only decorations of the room. We meet Maria V., who gave birth just two days ago to her second child. She was accompanied by her older sister and their children. They played in front of us and around our cameras. The consultation, still conducted in Kaqchikel, was enlivened by the laughter of mothers and children, while the fathers took a quick break for lunch before returning to work in the fields.
For the last consultation, we walked down a winding path that lead to the home of a young woman and her mother, who is 16 years old. In a room furnished with a bed, a wardrobe and a cross, Maye carries out her last examination of the day. The young woman was expecting a baby for mid-August.
We returned, exhausted by the day but inspired by the work and energy that Maye, 25, dedicates every day to these marginalized communities.