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Going the Distance to Provide Care in Peru
In one of the most unequal regions in the world, those who are most in need of family planning, comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services are often living in the most remote and impoverished communities. That's why the staff and volunteers at INPPARES, our local partner in Peru, travel by foot, motorcycle, and boat to ensure that quality health care reaches the country's most vulnerable people.
Stefanie Suclupe is an energetic 24-year-old woman who has one of the toughest jobs in the world. After crossing three stingray-infested rivers, Stefanie hikes for hours on windy hills and through sun beaten papaya fields to bring basic—and often lifesaving—health services to people living in the Peruvian jungle.
At a health post in Santa Clara, Stefanie meets Geny, a 37-year-old woman who walked for two hours in unbearable heat to receive pre-natal care. They speak in a small, modest room that has only an exam table and two chairs. Although this is Geny's sixth pregnancy, she has only three children. She lost two babies shortly after they were born.
“There was no health center anywhere near me for me to take my babies when they were born sick,” explains Geny. Her forehead glistens with beads of sweat, and her sandaled feet are covered in dust from the long trek. She listens as Stefanie encourages her to have the baby in a health center, where they will be prepared to handle any birth complications. One of Geny's previous births required a cesarian section.
Even though Geny is just seven weeks pregnant, Stefanie suggested she and her husband start saving for the birth. “Fatten the cows and sell them,” she says. She and Geny then discuss all the things she would need after giving birth, like clothes and diapers. Before Geny left, she received a tetanus shot.
Peru is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and half of the population lives below the poverty line. The villages Stefanie visits have no electricity, no potable water, and no cell phone signal—but thanks to her unyielding dedication, the people living in these villages have health care.