Our conversation then turned to how healthcare and CARE work in Peru. Lima's hospitals are incredibly understaffed but deliver quality care that's as good as the standards in America but without the frills. People with money can afford frills, like epidurals. Those without; can't. Ayacucho is a small city and their regional hospital handles the complicated cases (plus all the women who live nearby) that flow in from the outpost health clinics like the one I visited in the tiny village of Vilcashuaman.
The FEMME project standardizes practices so that the same procedures for emergency care are practiced at every facility. Before FEMME, every facility did their own thing and most hospitals had no clue what to do when a mother was bleeding to death or dying from preeclampsia. Now, they have the same routines as we do in America; but again, without the frills. When reviewing standards and policies in Ayacucho and Vilcashuaman, I recognized the same algorhythms for step-by-step emergency care management that we practice in the States. Lima is the center point of the maternal care web. Ayacucho is one circle out and Vilcashuaman is on the edge.
Mothers Matter is the big roof that covers CARE's goals for global improvement of maternal health and reduction of mortality. The FEMME project is under that roof and was developed and implemented in Lima, Ayacucho and the small outpost health clinics like Vilcashuaman and Tambo (where Christy Turlington visited). It's been so successful in Peru that CARE is now working with other countries like Bolivia, parts of Africa and, I think, Nicaragua (just to name a few) to customize the programs for them. It's an incredible thing.
It started with recognition of a huge need. Mothers were dying at astounding rates and children were being orphaned. That recognition turned into a vision of an integrated medical/cultural model that could prevent deaths by creating a health care system poor women could and would access. People like Elena have taken this vision and turned it into reality with the support of people like Christy Turlington and hundreds of people in cities and villages here in Peru.
We at Fit Pregnancy are now part of expanding this vision to other countries. Elena was crying during our meeting this afternoon because of the powerful contribution our publicity at FP will make. Once she started crying, all of the women in the meeting (the guys had already left) teared-up and started talking about the power of focusing on a goal and activating the right opportunities until the dream comes true.
The moment I turned on the TV and watched Christy Turlington was both my and Fit Pregnancy’s access point to this greater vision of helping women with lives very similar to our own survive. We really are helping make a difference for women just like us, trying to raise our babies the best we can.
A little sweet note about Elena: Elena's first child was born during the start of the FEMME project here in Peru. She and her husband tried for years after that to conceive another child but weren't lucky. I'm not surprised. She works nonstop (as do all the men and women I met, like Sofia, Ricardo and Bascilia). Immediately after Christy Turlington's visit here (Elena and Christy traveled to Ayacucho together and Elena also escorted me) in 2007 that Elena realized that finally, she was pregnant again.
Her baby girl is now six months old and she had to leave her for two days so she could bring "Fit Pregnancy" to the village. She found time between meetings to pump milk. She so admired Christy and so appreciated her investment (of both her time and a considerable amount of money) that she named her baby after her. Christy, pronounced, Chreesty.
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