Mobile Unit in Need of Funding
As a fundraiser, donors often ask me how their money is being spent. I can tell them about the high standards IPPF/WHR maintains to keep our administrative and fundraising costs low or about the financial transparency that allows them to access information about where they money is being allocated, but this is a little impersonal.
Recently, I traveled to Colombia and gained a very personalized perspective on how donor money is being invested in the poor and marginalized in our region. First, let me tell you, it takes about $2,800 to run a mobile health clinic in regions of Colombia with little or no other option for healthcare. A mobile unit is medically equipped and will provide services to hundreds of people in one day.
On this day the clinic is set up in a schoolhouse that has been cleaned and prepped for the day’s events. As you can see in the attached slideshow, this is not easy terrain nor is it easy to turn a schoolroom into a viable, sanitized, private clinic space. All of the supplies must be carried in, including water. The work that is done before they even begin seeing clients is enormous and physically exhausting.
Before the clinic is completely set-up, entire families have already started to line up to await treatment. Teenage mothers receive contraceptives and counseling to prevent future pregnancies, and some women receive their first Pap Smear. On any given day at a mobile clinic, two or three women will likely be referred to receive additional medical care when cervical cancer or other life-threatening diseases are discovered.
This woman is a mother of three and you can see it in her eyes that she is tired. Her husband is in jail and she is alone as a parent, and unfortunately, she is also not alone as a statistic. Today, she’ll receive contraceptive counseling and the birth control method of her choice so that she is empowered to choose when or if she’ll give birth again. It’s a small, personal victory – one of hundreds that happened on this overcast day in the hills outside Bogota.
Thank you for making mobile health units possible. It’s quite touching to see this work on the ground and to be surrounded by such committed doctors, nurses and other health workers who manage these clinics. Unfortunately, units like this one in Los Altos de la Florida are in jeopardy of being discontinued because of lack of funding. While other units remain active in other countries they remain one of the most underfunded areas of our work.