In July, Socios En Salud, Partners In Health’s partner organization in Peru, celebrated 14 years of bringing high quality health services to families living in some of the most marginalized communities in the country. As part of the anniversary activities, SES officially inaugurated their new Carabayllo Cultural Center, which will serve as a community space for neighborhood children to learn, play, and develop artistic skills.
Because education is one of the most effective ways of breaking the cycle of poverty and disease in the communities served by PIH, the new facility will be key in helping to advance SES’s mission in Carabayllo.
Over the course of three days, the new center hosted a health fair where SES staff exhibited programs on HIV/AIDS prevention, Community Health, and Tuberculosis (TB) treatment and prevention to the residents of Carabayllo, a community that has watched SES grow since 1996.
To highlight SES's HIV/AIDS programs, the event featured activities including informational booths staffed by SES nurses and health promoters, skits that highlighted the difficulties of stigma and discrimination faced by HIV positive people, and a discussion led by Dr. Jose Luis Sebastian, director of the National Health Strategy on HIV/AIDS at Peru's Ministry of Health.
Community Health Workers from SES's social projects presented their work in four major fields: nutrition, community health, education, and early childhood stimulation. Several mothers, attracted by the smells of delicious food, came to learn how to prepare nutritious and inexpensive meals, while promotoras explained the importance of a balanced diet.
To present SES's education programs, the team presented a number of learning games made from recycled materials, which children used to solve communication and mathematical and logical problems. There was also space set up for them to make their own puppets and read stories in the center's library.
The team also used games to showcase its programs to treat and prevent TB. Eager participants lined up to throw a “TB dice” and earn prizes by responding correctly to questions about TB. Participants also worked together to assemble images of lungs on poster boards while learning about the disease.
Former patient Sra. Zila Huaman captivated the audience with her personal testimony of living with TB, accompanied by a wall of photographs showing how the disease had affected her. “If I could get better, everyone can do it,” she concluded.
Other TB patients enrolled in SES's income generation project testified that poverty could be overcome and TB eradicated through the creation of micro enterprises.
Concluding the anniversary activities, SES nurse Roberto Zegarra remembered how 14 years ago, a group of young people in the Carabayllo community identified multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) as one of the principal health problems faced by the community. Despite the fact that people with MDR-TB at that time were considered untreatable, SES kept working with them hand-in-hand. Together, they proved that they could overcome the disease, and showed the world that MDR-TB can be cured in poor countries.