By Anielka Medina, Executive Director
Often, the work required to organize and mobilize communities in preparation to provide the annual services to the women can be underestimated. This week, our team has been focused on our next stop: Miramar.
Miramar is small fishing village with about 1500 inhabitants located about 20 kilometers south of the port town, Puerto Sandino. While Puerto Sandino receives substantial attention from the government in terms of medical and educational support, the small communities on the outskirts are often forgotten. Perhaps 20 kilometers, about 13 miles, does not seem very far, but when you are a mother of three without transportation, 20 kilometers is a big task; and unfortunately, a task that often outweighs the risk of cervical cancer.
If you’ve been following our work, you already know that cervical cáncer is the most preventable cancer in the world. Truly, an annual exam is the great barrier between those who survive and those who do not. Yet, in Nicaragua, cervical cancer is the #1 killer of women.
We were pleased this week to have the opportunity to work with the town leader, Ivania, who has been absolutely incredible in terms of organizing and mobilizing the women (and even a few men!). A critical part of the work we do is centered on participating WITH the community WITH their norms and culture in mind. When we find participants like Ivania, we know the exams will be a success. We are hoping for at least 200 women to participate in the VIA / PAP exams next week, but Ivania is saying she will get 300 participants. If we have 250 participate we will be achieving the expected 85% turnout of the eligible population.
In addition to providing the incredible support of organizing and mobilizing the women, Ivania also has promised to feed our team over the two weeks we are working in the community. One strategic challenge we were struggling with was the food we’ll need to provide to the team while we’re on the road (there are no McDonald’s in these parts of the world!). We’re hoping and praying for a mobile unit in the future, but until then, we are expecting to eat a substantial amount of food from a can! However, the support Ivania has promised came as a surprise and huge blessing. We’ve offered to bring the rice and beans, and the town has promised to cook and provide fish or chicken.
During the meeting with the town to finalize the details of the two weeks of exams and treatment, we had the opportunity to explain the process of The Lily Project. Feedback from the attendees was fascinating and reinforcement our current mission. Three key parts of our project REALLY resonated with the town:
1. Accessibility: The Lily Project is focused on bringing services to the women in rural communities. While other foundations set up clinics and ask the women to find a way there, Lily overcomes this primary obstacle by going to the women directly.
2. No Cost: We are working in poor, rural villages where $5 makes the difference between food on the table or not. Exams and treatment at other non-profits cost between $5 - $50. If women have to pay, their participation drops dramatically.
3. Treatment: We provide on-site, in-community treatment for eligible women. Occasionally, rural communities are blessed to have teams of doctors visit. However, traditional clinics do not provide treatment which requires the women to make a 2-3 hour trip to the capital to receive treatment. Studies have shown participation in treatment is about 10% when required to make an arduous journey to receive it.
After hearing about The Lily Project plans in Miramar, the ladies are thrilled and ready to participate. We expect to have a great turn out next week (January 26-February 7), and we are looking forward to sharing the results.
Next Perspectives: Miramar Participates