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Kateri Fund Healthcare Program: An Answer to a Need in Guatemala

Mark your calendars for the Little by Little matching campaign from April 8-12, an opportunity to have donations to the Healthcare Scholarship program go further.

Approximately 35 percent of Guatemala’s population lacks access to basic healthcare services, according to USAID. These numbers are even higher among rural, indigenous populations, among which rates of stunted growth for children under five rise to 70 percent.

Reasons for these disparities vary. Guatemala’s long and fraught history, including oppression and violence against Mayan populations, has led to a current situation where 60 percent of the indigenous population lives in extreme poverty. Many of these communities are located in remote areas without easy access to medical centers. In addition, language barriers can make it difficult to access health care provided in Spanish.

The Kateri Tekakwitha Fund’s Healthcare Scholarship program aims to address some of these issues. The women in the program aspire to careers in healthcare, but lack the funds to pay for their education and all of the supplemental costs, such as uniforms, books, and medical equipment. With the help of scholarships, they are able to complete their studies and continue on to careers in nursing and other medical professions.

Program participants are themselves indigenous women who often speak a language other than Spanish as their maternal language. Their connections to their local communities in the Guatemalan highlands make them a valuable resource, able to communicate with and relate to those they serve.

Two women together

Sandra López Cojtí is one of these students. She has been studying technical nursing with the help of a Kateri Fund scholarship. She is currently completing a practicum at a hospital, gaining additional hands-on experience. She cites the lack of medical resources as one of her motivations for going into the healthcare field, explaining that, “since we live in a rural area, we don’t have the necessary resources to be able to frequently go to a medical center, or out of embarrassment the people don’t go because often they need a person they can trust in order to be comfortable.” As a member of the community, as well as a native Kaqchikel speaker, Sandra can more easily build that sense of trust. She hopes to be able to provide more services to her community after she finishes her studies.

Sandra also explains that this career path is beneficial to herself and her family. Her husband works in the fields and she had previously done work selling snacks. Having the educational background that she does now, she is better able to help her family financially and take care of her young son.

In her current practicum, she is learning about administering medications and various preventative services. She has taken part in trips to different rural communities where they provide services such as vaccines to young children in an effort to reduce child mortality rates in the region. They also provide educational resources to mothers in the area.

By providing basic medical services in a way that is easy to access, women like Sandra are able to improve the health of the entire community. The impact of each scholarship, therefore, goes far beyond just one person.

To support the Kateri Fund Healthcare Scholarships, be ready to join us for the GlobalGiving Little by Little campaign April 8-12. With 50% matching on all donations up to $50, BIG change can come from lots of little acts of kindness.


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