UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program


Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Women’s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions (WINGS)
Location:
Antigua, Guatemala
Preceptor:
Meira Neggaz, WINGS Program Director
Student Name: Grace S. Lee
Year: 2005

Women’s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions (WINGS)/Asociación ALAS de Guatemala is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization based in Antigua, Guatemala that seeks to improve the reproductive health of people living in underserved communities of Guatemala. Founded in 2001, the mission of WINGS is to increase access to contraception and reproductive health care by addressing common obstacles such as geographic isolation, lack of financial resources and education, and cultural barriers. Originally founded to improve rural indigenous women’s reproductive health care, WINGS has expanded to provide education and outreach services, and its target populations have expanded to include males and adolescents. WINGS currently operates four major projects: the Family Planning Initiative (providing family planning education and methods), the Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program, and the Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing and Treatment Initiative (STI Prevalence Study), and the Youth WINGS peer education project.

I worked specifically with the Youth WINGS peer education project, or ALAS Jóvenes, which began as a pilot project in 2004. ALAS Jóvenes trains selected youth ages 14-24 in six rural, predominantly Mayan communities to provide information on reproductive health and family planning to other youth within their communities. Youth “multipliers,” or peer educators, are trained to provide education, referrals, and condoms to community members and to conduct presentations on sexual education.

The majority of my work involved curriculum development for the youth peer educator training. I wrote documents on topics such as abortion, drugs/alcohol, and reproductive risk for the curriculum and edited the Reference Manual for Youth Peer Educators. I also created and revised materials for each of the five modules of the Phase I curriculum, including module summaries, lesson plans, handouts, workshop activities, baseline questionnaire, and homework. I compiled the results of the community needs assessment interviews conducted by the youth Program Coordinator in order to assist in the selection of six communities in which to implement the youth peer education program. I also designed the Phase II curriculum (which will be used as a more intensive training for selected youth peer educators who have completed Phase I), and the accompanying modules, lesson plans, handouts, workshop activities, and homework. As part of my field placement with WINGS, I also conducted two site visits, one to observe a presentation for the adult family project, and the other to observe the youth Program Coordinator’s needs assessment interviews with community members. I designed a focus group guide for possible future use in conducting an evaluation of ALAS Jóvenes. I also revised many of the youth WINGS forms and paperwork to be more culturally appropriate and to elicit the desired information. My experience with WINGS was extremely valuable, as I gained critical thinking and problem solving skills from confronting the daily challenges that arise in an applied setting.

 

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