Exactly six years ago the three of us were immersed in a process of “test & learn” to ensure our grass-roots model would support Lily’s mission to create healthier futures for women and girls in Nicaragua. Well, with COVID upending so much in our world, we are at it again! This time though we are not on our own but part of a powerful community of women who care a whole awful lot - coming together with boundless energy, ideas and opportunities.
Here’s what we are doing…
Learning everything we can about how to best use digital channels to deliver Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services. Lily’s team is testing a program using WhatsApp and has conducted in-depth interviews with women in rural communities to learn about their use of mobile devices and uncover SRH needs and interests. Kaylin (senior UCLA) is researching global best practices to guide this development. Maria (MA Student Social Entrepreneurship, Pepperdine) is bringing Nica resources to Lily to create a digital platform. Lily’s goal is to have a business plan developed with an early-stage program underway by the end of the year.
Improving our care process. We are honored Julia (PhD Candidate Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley) undertook a case study of Lily’s process applying human-centered design principles for her dissertation. Julia’s work uncovered a number of opportunities for improvement, which we are addressing. Kammi (Associate Professor Sociology, OSU) is developing a research proposal to develop and evaluate the use of mobile technology to improve our continuum of care. TogetHER, a global cervical cancer advocacy organization, that recently profiled Lily https://bit.ly/2D1Uomy, offers tremendous insight into medical advancements and global best practices in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Cynthia (Educator, Polytechnic) is training Lily’s team to better communicate with women experiencing stress and depression. Lily’s goal is 100% of women we serve receive the cervical cancer care they need during their lifetime.
Raising up the reality of women’s experience in Nicaragua. Without a doubt, one of the most powerful opportunities we have is to leverage our data and share the stories of the women we serve. Too often women’s health is measured as the absence of disease – in our case cervical cancer. However, Lily’s data also reflects women’s overall emotional and social well-being, essential measures of health. Designed and programmed by Laura (PhD Student, Sociology, OSU), completed by Rachel (Digital Solutions Engineer) and in the process of being analyzed by Sarrah (Sophomore, Stanford) Lily’s master database includes whole-health indicators for nearly 20,000 women. Lily’s goal is to respectfully describe and communicate the reality of women’s experience in rural Nicaragua to encourage more understanding and the support of the whole-health needs of women.
Creating revenue the Lily way. To create sustainable sources of income, we are staying true to what has made Lily so successful: focus on grassroots development efforts that ‘fit’ the local market and leverage its unique market dynamics. Most of the products and services we are envisioning will be marketed to the local community (e.g. Laboratorio Clinco Alvaro Garcia, Granada); however, thanks to the support of a cohort of students studying Social Entrepreneurship (MA Pepperdine) and Lily’s partner Selena (https://www.thechicaproject.com/), Lily is positioned to launch an online store with products made by women in Nicaragua for the US market. Lily’s goal is to have 2-3 incubator projects underway in 2021.
Reflecting the spirit of our community. The Lily Project is co-created by women in Nicaragua and the Americas passionate about changing the status quo and ensuring women’s rights to their own health and future. Women joined together to makes lives better, first for women and girls, and ultimately the entire community. Katie (MA Student Marketing, University of Denver) is helping to redesign Lily’s brand and website to better represent this powerful force for change. Lily’s goal is relaunch the website to communicate the 2021+ plan and goals.
We are immensely proud and honored to be part of this community. All of you make Lily possible.
Anielka, Jonathan and Susan
P.S. Congratulations and thanks to Dr. Kammi Schmeer for being awarded the Emerging International Engagement Award given to faculty who are demonstrating outstanding promise in international outreach that has the potential for long-term impact from the Office of International Affairs at OSU.
Just 22-years-old, Ilcia exhibits extraordinary passion for the care she delivers and compassion for the women she serves. She told us about an experience she recently had with a woman in a tiny rural community: “I started talking with a very shy young woman who came with her friend to the clinic. She was reluctant to have an exam because she was taught by her mother to believe that cervical cancer was God’s punishment for her sins. I am proud I earned her trust and was able to not only screen her for cancer but also discuss all of the worries she had about her body and health."
This is The Lily Project.
However, with the number of cases accelerating in Nicaragua and no governmental policy for testing, social distancing or protection, Lily has suspended all mobile clinic events. Instead we are moving services online through WhatsApp and Facebook where we will provide individual and group interaction for our 15,000+ contacts and followers in Nicaragua. It will be an interesting test to see if we can begin to use these channels to help women in new ways.
Friends, we ask for your continued support of The Lily Project as a donor, volunteer, advisor or cheerleader! We hope you agree with our #1 priority: to protect the wellbeing of our staff during this very difficult time. Ilcia and the rest of our team of nurses each earn $300 a month - with this they are able to provide for themselves and help their families. Just a little does so much!
“New data shows the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 could soon have on women and girls globally. The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health.” UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem
This is our fight. We are a community-based organization on the frontlines, helping women protect their bodies and their health. The Lily Project has made a profound difference in the lives of women, their families and their communities – and we will continue.
Thank you for caring about Lily. Believe this: you are helping save lives.
We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy,
Anielka, Jonathan and Susan