Today was our second (and final) day of teaching at the midwifery school here in Guatemala City. It was also our last full day in Guatemala. On the last day or so we became aware of a strong hurricane working its way from Central America towards Florida. It was formed out of the storm we experienced down in Chiquimulilla, and the flooding it caused was so bad by today that they were evacuating the area where we had just been staying. It was set to make landfall north of Miami where we were due to fly into on Wednesday morning. We were pretty sure we could get into Miami, but we were also pretty sure we wouldn’t get out of Miami in a timely manner. The airlines, in their infinite wisdom, told us they were not planning on rerouting passengers until the day of our flight.
But today, we were teaching Helping Babies Breathe. The class started out on a somber note when some of the student midwives wanted to share their experiences with babies who were stillborn or who died shortly after birth. They talked about how those experiences motivated them to become midwives and why they felt like the training we provide, in particular, is so important to them. The class followed the usual rhythm….the students take pretests that assess their knowledge and confidence, we teach hands-on skills using the mannequins and role-playing, skills tests throughout the day to assess understanding of the material being taught, and ending with knowledge and confidence post-tests. All the students in my group were smart and learned quickly. The other trainers said the same thing about the students in their groups. Over lunch, we conducted a focus group and asked the student midwives the same questions we asked the midwives down in Chiquimulilla. They shared their hopes and dreams for their futures and for the future of the health of their communities. Like the midwives in Chiquimulilla, the students also talked about how the midwives in their communities need access to basic equipment so they can better care for their patients. They expressed a need for everything from gloves and gauze to blood pressure cuffs and cord clamps.
As in Xela, the session ended with a little ceremony to pass out certificates to the students, lots of laughter and photos and some happy tears. We definitely hope we will be invited back to teach at the school next year. After leaving the school, before dinner, we decided to take a quick run through the Mercado Central for some last-minute purchases. Nancy and I entered the market on one of the levels below the artisan level. It was a wild array of baptismal gowns, rhinestone jewelry, housewares, and produce. Sadly, we had very limited time and we weren’t able to poke around at all. We ended up having dinner much later than we had intended, compliments of the Guatemala City traffic and finally made it back to our hotel around 10pm. It was the moment of truth…..would all my treasures fit in my suitcase without exceeding the 50lb weight limit?? Yes and no…..yes they all fit, but my bag weighed 50.4lbs…. Luckily for me, the airline person didn’t get her tail in a knot about 4 ounces. Tune in tomorrow for my final blog post to see if we got to fly through or around Hurricane Michael!