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Cobourg residents part of Guatemala project

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today


Cobourg residents will be part of a Guatemala project launched by Cobourg-based international-development agency Horizons of Friendship.

Horizons will be leading a team of Canadian health-care providers to Guatemala to share their knowledge and experiences with those addressing the challenging maternal, newborn and child-health realities faced by Indigenous Maya peoples.

The 10-person team of nurses and midwives (with one obstetrician) leaves Sunday for its 10-day visit. Three of them are from Cobourg, and the remainder come from Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Peterborough, Waterloo, Brockville and Victoria, BC.

These Canadians will meet, learn from and share knowledge with Guatemalan traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ midwives, medical staff at maternal and child health centres, health promoters and health educators.

All are key players in achieving the goals of Horizons’ four-year $13.2-million Reducing Gaps for Indigenous Peoples in Totonicapán project, funded in large part by Global Affairs Canada. The project is assisting in the reduction of maternal and child deaths in a primarily Indigenous Maya K’iche province with one of the highest maternal-mortality rates in Guatemala.

Carried out alongside Horizons’ Guatemalan partner, the Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education, this initiative is providing culturally relevant training and equipment to more than 1,000 traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ midwives, fully stocking more than 150 health centres, and implementing a province-wide maternal and child health promotion and education campaign. Thanks to these and other strategies, the project will effectively transform the lives of more than 200,000 Indigenous women, children and families in Totonicapán.

Following the Canadians’ visit to Guatemala, a group of five Guatemalans will visit Canada in late March to exchange knowledge, share their personal stories and talk about the importance of initiatives like this one. Events with the contingent, which will include traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ midwives and physicians, are planned in Toronto, the Clarington region, Cobourg, Peterborough, Kingston and Ottawa.