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Location: Strong Hope Canal, Region 2

Counterparts: Marlon Allen

Date: 2/2018

Contributed: Alyse Blackburn – GUY 27

This project was developed to improve the livelihood of the Strong Hope Canal Community in the Lower Pomeroon River, Guyana by creating a source of sustainable income through the development of a coconut product-producing facility. With the creation of a suitable place and quality supplies, the community aimed to buy coconuts directly from the community at a higher market price, enabling each family the opportunity to better themselves. The project aimed to provide workforce skills and job opportunities for out-of-school youth. Currently, this community is experiencing economic difficulty in the face of expanding big businesses. In two years, without a backup plan, they will have farms full of coconuts without anyone to sell them to. It is rare that a community fully supports one another but these members do and they are united in a common goal. They want better for their family, themselves, and their community.

The Birthing Project USA has successfully implemented the Sister Friend program, a national and global social support effort, into Malawian, Nigerian, Guatemalan and Ugandan communities. The Sister Friend program’s goal is to lower infant mortality rates through recruiting, training and supporting volunteers to deliver emotional, physical and financial support, as well as education and direction for pregnant women. Pregnant women from various communities strengthened relationships with other women in their communities and health professionals involved during their child’s birth. To implement this program into Guyana, the Birthing Project USA collaborated with Peace Corps Guyana to equip Peace Corps Volunteers with culturally sensitive and socially just training on how to utilize the Sister Friend model at their own assigned health centers, health posts or hospitals. Through the Birthing Project USA’s Sister Friend curriculum, PCVs were trained on the importance of social support during pregnancy, how the program can be implemented and how volunteers can train health center staff to provide emotional support, prenatal care and tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Increased emphasis on prenatal and postnatal care among health center staff ensured the best care for women attending the health centers. By building rapport between health center staff and pregnant participants, pregnant women are more likely to attend their pre and postnatal care appointments and entrust the health and safety of their babies with their midwife, nurses and nursing assistants.

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