Partner for Surgery (Compañero en Salud)

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Charitable Organization
, Sacatepequez
January 13, 2011 - 10:04pm
All of Guatemala, Antigua, El Peten, Izabal + Southeast, Quiche + Verapazes
Frank Peterson
11 - 20
Health / Medical

Partner for Surgery (Compañero en Salud)
Improving Health. Empowering Communities.

Partner for Surgery (Compañero en Salud) provides impoverished Guatemalans With Sustainable Access to Medical & Surgical Care.

Since 2001, Partner for Surgery (Compañero en Salud) has provided medical care and education to more than 25,000 and facilitated surgery for over 5,000 Guatemalans.

We focus on rural Guatemala, more specifically on the rural indigenous (Mayan) population. However, we offer help to anyone who is impoverished and lacks access to surgical care.

Our Mission
• To serve as a bridge between patients in need of surgical care in remote communities and the international volunteer triage and surgical teams that come to Guatemala to help the impoverished;
• To educate and empower rural Guatemalans to initiate and advocate for vital health care services on their own behalf.

Our Goals
With our activities we aim to:

• Improve Health
• Empower Communities
• Reduce Poverty
• Overcome Barriers

To that end:
• We develop sustainable health programs for rural Guatemalan communities;
• We provide a sustainable infrastructure that enables impoverished Guatemalans to access quality medical and surgical care;
• We provide screening and treatment for cervical cancer prevention;
• We work to build trust in the health care community among rural Mayans;
• We promote community participation in health care activities.
• We support communities with trained local leaders;
• We empower youth to help their communities through rural radio programs;
• We break down barriers by showing testimonials, videos, etc. and empowering people to make decisions about their own health.

We collaborate with different social and economic layers of the Guatemalan society, as well as the Public and Private sectors and international organizations:
• We help rural communities to help themselves. To that end, we have trained a network of “local community managers”: local leaders who help us with all our activities on a volunteer basis. Also, we have developed additional projects to involve rural youth in our health care activities. In addition, our requirement that most patients make at least a small, symbolic contribution to their surgery can be seen as a first step towards a reality where Mayans, who have a long history of oppression, take responsibility for their own life and health;
• We support local organizational development. To that end, we have stimulated the founding of two independent Guatemalan non profits.
• We seek collaboration with existing Guatemalan private foundations to foster a culture of philanthropy and volunteerism and to make Guatemala less dependent on foreign funds;
• We seek collaboration with the Guatemalan government, local as well as national level;
• We collaborate with international volunteer surgical teams and with foreign organizations such as the US Peace Corps

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Commentaries / Experiences


I have worked with Companero en Salud in Guatemala for several years now. Their model of empowering people and communities to help themselves fits well with sustainable medical support, and respects the views & beliefs of local Indigenous Mayans. The people CenS supports are normally those least likely to seek medical care for their mostly correctible conditions. Areas where they work suffer an average 70% poverty rate. In less developed countries like Guatemala, if you are a rural resident, you are most likely to be poor and least likely to have a doctor's services accessible to you. The employment of locals to advertise medical care availability and surgical screening, the involvement of Guatemalan youth in producing radio advertisements, and the request that every patient receiving surgery pay even a small amount toward the procedure is one of the most sustainable NGO models I've seen. Most of those who volunteer return year after year. Every Medical Triage Mission CenS sponsors includes a cultural day where volunteers learn first hand about cultural practices & traditions. I would highly recommend supporting this NGO - it is run by honest, hard-working people who have given up a large part of their lives to help the Indigenous.

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