The Art and Science of Serving Our Neighbors

This has been a challenging year for Nicaragua and for the people we serve. But despite the difficulties we have faced, we remain inspired by our team of community health workers and the people we serve. They are the reason we stay. And we remain hopeful because of supporters like you.

The health promoters of the 22 rural communities where we serve.

Each year, our health promoters travel from their communities and reunite at our annual training to refresh their knowledge, grow their capacities, and set goals for the future. During the last week of November this year, we hosted our annual training for AMOS health promoters and health educators from the 23 communities in which we serve.

This year’s week-long training included sessions in Healing Arts, First Aid, the use of new technologies to help improve our Monitoring and Evaluation processes, and taking photographs – so they can help record the work they do within their communities.

Healing through Art and Expression

During the first two days of the training, health promoters learned about Healing Arts with IM Global Consultant, pastoral artist, and trainer Mylinda Baits. They learned about understanding trauma and practiced ways to use creative expression to help manage the effects of traumatic stress on the body, mind, spirit, interpersonal relationships, and their communities.

According to our facilitator, Mylinda Baits, “Art allows us to imagine and to express. Without having to depend only on words, art provides a new road to explore our feelings, thoughts, and dreams. Through music, movement, making, and mirroring, we can connect and repair the broken relationships and memories caused by toxic stress, political and social uncertainty, and insecurity. Art helps us to rebuild confidence in ourselves and trust in each other. By doing art together, important links for healing can be made and strengthened. By imagining what could be instead of getting stuck where we are, we are able to move beyond the vortex of violence and trauma. Expressing the inexpressible through images, movement, sounds, or symbols allows us to make sense out of the senselessness we feel at times. When we can heal the internal wounds, our social groups will be healthier as well.”

Saving Lives through First Aid

For many of the communities we serve, the nearest health center is three hours or more away – a long and dangerous journey in an emergency. So every day, health promoters save lives by providing essential health care, treating preventable illnesses, and dealing with potentially life-threatening situations within their own communities.

Our annual training allows health promoters to refresh their knowledge base and ensure they have the skills to proceed without delay to provide regular care or address emergency situations. During this year’s training, health promoters reviewed First Aid skills, as they are usually the first line of response for accidents and emergencies in their communities. Health promoters learned to properly bandage, suture, and stitch up injuries, and reviewed protocols for referring patients to the hospital when necessary.

According to Dr. Carlos Escobar, facilitator of the First Aid training, “Promoters apply this knowledge of First Aid very often in their communities. Therefore, it helps to review this subject frequently, so they can respond quickly and efficiently when an emergency arises.” When a health promoter provides First Aid care to someone in need, it can save a life!

Statistics Help Track Our Impact in Numbers and a Step Towards Real-Time Data

Data and statistics are not just numbers on a page for AMOS. They are a crucial tool for tracking our impact, but also help us facilitate a never-ending process of action, reflection, learning, and planning. AMOS health promoters implement life-saving protocols when they examine patients in their homes or at the community clinic. But part of the long-term success of the AMOS model has been the use of data that health promoters document on data-collection forms to evaluate the overall impact of our programs. Some of the key pieces of data they collect include number and types of home visits, documentation of each patient exam, recording the progress and health of pregnant women, and maintaining an updated list of all the people in their community are considered the most vulnerable to preventable causes of death.

During several training sessions, our Monitoring and Evaluation team had the chance to share about small changes and updates being made in the data-collection forms for the coming year. The changes on the forms were developed in direct response to feedback received from the health promoters and health committee members themselves. But the biggest change to data collection for the coming year for for health promoters and AMOS staff is that they will start to use mobile smart phones!

We are excited about this important step of beginning to integrate data collection on cell phones into our Monitoring and Evaluation process! AMOS staff began training health promoters on how to use the technology that will help them share the data they collect faster with our staff. Ultimately, the goal is that data can be entered in rural communities by our health promoters, uploaded into a cloud server, and downloaded by our Monitoring and Evaluation staff. Our staff will can more quickly analyze trends and share consolidated data back to community leaders who can then reflect on what the data means for their community and what if anything they might need to do differently to address changing health indicators.

The Reason We Stay

This has been a challenging year for Nicaragua and for the people we serve. But despite the difficulties we have faced, we remain inspired by our team of community health workers and the people we serve. They are the reason we stay. And we remain hopeful because of supporters like you.

AMOS supporters and internationally-known musicians, Jim and Jean Strathdee were recently inspired by the commitment and service of our health promoters and wrote a song called, “We Will Stay.” Listen to this beautiful song below! Thank you, Jim and Jean!

With your support, we can continue to provide essential health care and support to babies and children, pregnant moms, and other vulnerable populations. To bring health and hope to those who need it most, make a gift today at amoshealth.org/donate to AMOS, it will be matched each month for an entire year.

And don’t forget about our special match opportunity! Now through December 31st, when you start a new monthly gift to AMOS, it will be matched each month for an entire year.

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