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Horizons welcomes Maya health workers to Cobourg

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

COBOURG -- An exchange of knowledge and experience is the focus, as Horizons of Friendship welcomes a group of traditional Indigenous Maya midwives, health providers and leaders for a tour of Ontario and western Quebec.

Their sharing of first-hand experiences and information on maternal and child health is part of the four-year project that has seen the Cobourg-based international-development agency partner with the Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education in Guatemala under a co-share funding agreement with Global Affairs Canada that has already benefited more than 40,000 Maya K'iche women, children and families during its first year.

Training and equipping traditional Maya midwives, organizing community-based women's groups, personal counselling, and providing essential medicines and supplies to health centres and clinics are some of the ways in which this four-year project will directly benefit more than 200,000 Indigenous women and children.

The October visit will focus on culturally relevant life-saving health services in the predominantly Maya K'iche province of Totonicapan.

The multi-disciplinary Guatemalan delegation is comprised of two traditional Maya K'iche' midwives being trained and equipped through the project (Valenzuela Cos and Estela Ca- nastuj); a Maya K'iche' community leader who is president of his village's Community Health Commission and Community Development Council (Eusebio Lopez); the Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education gender-equality co-ordinator who is part of the project team in Guatemala (Lucrecia Pisquiy); the director of the Totonicapan Health Directorate, the provincial division of the Guatemalan Ministry of Health (Dr. Juan Jose Escalante); and the head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of the Totonicapan Provincial Hospital (Dr. Hannaly Ruiz).

Their Ontario stops include an Oct. 11 visit to Carleton University and an Oct. 16 visit to the University of Toronto. In between, they will make two appearances in Cobourg -- Oct. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Horizons office (upstairs at 50 Covert St.) and Oct. 13 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Trinity United Church (284 Division St.).