Georgina Gladys Reyes Mo
Technical Nurse & CAEC Course Tutor
Outpatient CAIMI (Maternal & Child Comprehensive Care Center), San Cristóbal, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Community Auxiliary Nursing Course Tutor, San Cristóbal
[Translated and edited from the Spanish original Gladys Georgina Reyes Mo.]
“It all started when in activities of my church a group of missionaries proposed making videos that contextualized biblical stories. In the story of the Good Samaritan my sister played the role of a nurse. Seeing her acting as a nurse, healing the wounds of the patient, and seeing the white coat, made me realize that what I really wanted to be was a nurse, a person who helps people in need.
“Unfortunately I was married, and young, and could not pursue my studies because my mother believed that women should not study and should stay at home. So I had been able to study only through sixth grade. My husband gave me the opportunity to continue with the basic studies, but I always had in my heart to study nursing. When I had finished my basic studies my cousin told me that if I wanted to study nursing, TulaSalud had developed a course for Nursing Auxiliaries and that classes would occur in the CAIMI in San Cristóbal for students nominated by their communities. My community was Nisnic. I submitted my application and was accepted into the course.
“We had several challenges at the start of the course. Many people did not believe it would work, even doubted the validity of the course, and thought it was not a formal course of the Ministry of Health. We even had people who thought it would not work because it was restricted to community nursing. But after the course got under way we realized that the course would allow us to work at any level of the health service, we saw that the course was offered through National School of Nursing in Cobán (ENEC), which helped us to calm down, focus on studying, and take advantage of the opportunity we had been given.
“After we graduated, two friends from the course, Heydi and Ingrid, alerted me that Fundameno [a Mennonite sponsored NGO], where they were working, was offering an opportunity to work as an educator. So in 2006 I started to work for Fundameno, specifically in communities on the road to Chixoy. In January 2009 there was a landslide near the Chixoy Dam [which killed 38 men and severed the road between the remote communities and the nearest town, San Cristóbal in Alta Verapaz]. We had to serve the entire population which was left in shelters, where we stayed around 11 days. After that, my family thought that work was too risky, so I started working in the CAIMI San Cristóbal. As of February 2015 I will have had six years working in this treatment center.
“My friend Ingrid suggested that we take further nursing studies in university, but my children were still young. After Ingrid graduated, I decided to study, and my husband supported me in that plan. But then I decided I could work and study at the same time, studying weekends [via the part time distance education program offered by TulaSalud and ENEC]. So it was that in 2011 I resumed my studies, and graduated as a Technical Nurse in May 2014. I hope to continue my studies in order to be better prepared to serve the population.
“What inspires me to study and work was primary care, to find malnourished children, high risk pregnancies, and to move them from the community if necessary, to provide the best care. The patients knew there would be hospital staff that would not understand them, that they would face a language barrier. At that moment I knew I had to make a difference. I would not want to feel badly, so I treat people well so they feel at home even leaving their community. In my work as an educator I decided that when talk to them to make them understand the risks and problems, and to listen to them in their language made it easier to understand the importance of risks and having more services, and even support them financially for their transfer. Those are the things that inspire me, knowing that I have contributed to saving a life.
“Later this year (2014), the staff supervisor told me they were thinking of bringing the Nursing Auxiliary course to San Cristóbal, the same course from which I graduated, and she was thinking of putting me in charge, although nothing was certain, and I was already busy working with young people.
“Days later I was informed that the team would come, that I would be promoted to be in charge of outpatients, and that I would also have a role in the Auxiliary course, which would be led by the person who had been my tutor when I took the course. A course would be developed, and my former tutor and TulaSalud would help me in whatever came along. So I began my new role as “Tutor” of the Community Auxiliary Nursing Course (CAEC) via tele-education, powered by TulaSalud and the Tula Foundation. I would also be the liaison to the local Ministry of Health service to ensure proper training of the young people. I feel inspired by being able to live with them through the process, to share what I’ve experienced. It’s an adventure, it’s part of life, as part of oneself on to open countryside. I can orient those who come to study, advise them, tell them how difficult it was for me to be successful studying, and that they can also get to where they want if they try.
“Being able to study to be an auxiliary nurse is a 90 degree turn, because it is much more than earning a salary. For me is to have the desire and commitment to my work, to what I do, the satisfaction of doing what I like to do, saving lives and helping people. And now to return to the community and see my students, and see this positive influence, the vocation that I see in them, the fact that they worry about patients, for children, that they make the time to save a pregnant woman no matter the time or schedule. I try to motivate and counsel when they want to withdraw from the course, for family or financial problems. I tell them my experience and that the effort was worth it, and that it has filled me satisfaction and desire to work for humanity. “