"Health & Respectful Birth Practices" Workshop to Shilla Health Center Personnel, with Sophie Huart (Belgian Midwife) June 18th 2014

"Prácticas Saludables y Respetuosas del Parto"
Workshop for public health personnel (Peruvian Ministry of Health) who maintain a conventional biomedical approach to maternal care & Birth

This 3 hour-workshop intended to give Peruvian public health personnel in Ancash a fresh & evidence-based medicine perspective on natural birth, that is, non medicalized birth. We emphasyzed that when we interfere with unnecessary interventions in birth, many time there is more harm we do and change the course of a physiological birth.
Women need to feel safe, cared for, and respected. We emphasized the need of darkness in the room, 

The discrimination issue was addressed: I corrected that it is easier to work with Andean women than conventional urban women based on their lifestyles in Birth. Birth is biological, this respect not of one particular culture but to support the physiological process of birth.

Vertical positions: showing the facts why lithothomy (laying-down) is not benefitial for birthing women and their babies. Vertical positions (including preventions of vaginal perine tearing) are the recommended physiological birthing positions for all healthy birthing women, whatever their ethnic group

Health personnel which attended the workshop questioned their routine practices concerning birth and the director of the health center (behind Sophie in picture) and the other obstetras reflected that they should reinstall the "Culturally Adequated Birthing Room" in the health center. This was their own initiative (before we even suggested it!) They were putting it in agenda again and were excited to start its planning.

Menstrual Education Classes at Community School of Shilla, Carhuaz - Ancash (Fall-Winter 2014)

Menstrual Health & Sexual Education Workshops with 5th and 6th grade girls, elementary school (9-12 years)

Note: Shilla community school I.E. "San Juan Bautista" serves girls & adolescents from Shilla town and surrounding communities

"There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls. No other 
policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, 
improve nutrition and promote health, including the prevention of HIV/Aids." 
Koffi Annan, Former UN Secretary General

The first series have 2 sessions: taught with an intercultural and woman-centered methodology, using art, participatory dynamics, song, storytelling, and body-language education techniques for girls to better understand and integrate the lessons shared. Girls are reminded that just for being in a woman's body they are open already to their own embodied Wisdom in this beautiful Rite of Passage of Becoming a Woman.

1st circle session: introduction to our sacred woman body; getting to know our Womb from the inside: feeling our Womb. Participatory lluvia de ideas (brainstorming) around Menstruation: "What have we heard of menstruation? from school, our mothers?"; woman-centered physiology of menstruation; introduction to Life Cycles, Lunar Cycles and our own Menstrual Cycles; menstruation as sacred & cleansing blood; Healthy Practices during menstruation (food, temperature, rest); Natural Remedies for menstrual cramps (Andean medicinal plants, home-based simple practices, yoga poses); Vaginal Hygiene (clarifying urban myths).

For the next session we ask as "homework" that they further ask their mothers about their menstrual healthy practices and self-care knowledge, valuing local feminine knowledge and opening talk spaces between mother & daughter at this age.

* In this session we emphasize that menstruation is "good blood" and not dirty. Also, that Menarche (first menstruation) is a beautiful thing to happen to a girls because it means that she is healthy, that she is fertile and that one day, as an adult woman, she will have the gift to bear children of her own. Girls in the class that share freely that they are already menstruators are congratulated and their peers are encouraged to do so too (and they are happy to when reminded that having their First Blood is very special and a Gift).

2nd circle session: review; doubts from last session; sharing of menstrual knowledge & practices shared by their mothers; Health & Menstrual Products (harmful chemicals and bleaching processes in industrial pads and tampons, TSS); How to use Cloth Reusable Pads: the healthy, ecological and culturally appropriate option; Menstruation rituals; teaching of Sacred Blood Medicine Songs.

          Sixth graders with their Luneras cloth pads, Teacher Ms. Mirtza, me and OSU volunteers

31 Luneras menstrual cloth pads were donated to all 5th and 6th graders of Shilla primary school! Girls received it as a Menarque gift and were excited to start their moontime in order to use them :)

3rd circle session "Sexuality, fertility and respect/ love":
Body Image: recognizing our unique beauty, Prevention of sexual abuse

Menstrual health workshop "Guiding our students by having a more positive relation with our own cycles" for female and male teachers at School of Shilla (June 11th)  All 12 teachers attended (1 male). Teachers were really open and interested in KillaWarmi's approach.

I shared:

* The approach of KillaWarmi menstrual education for girls & adolescents:
The value of introducing periods as positive, self-love and self-esteem in puberty; the value of intercultural sexual health education and an integral approach, including the biological, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual aspects of growing into a woman

* The school as a "Friendly Space for Mooning Girls". Reminder that is most likely that girls will have their first period either at home or at school. Proposal of having enough toilet paper at bathrooms, "emergency" menstrual pads, permisibility to let girls around this age go to the bathroom during class. I emphasized the importance of giving proper orientation when girls have their menarque at school, expressing girls with words and gestures (eg "congratulations" and/or giving a hug to them when they tell their teacher) that having their first blood is something beautiful, to feel grateful about and to celebrate - by this I invited them to be Allies of KillaWarmi in continuing and strengthening the teachings shared by KW to the girls & adolescents at their school.

Proposal of an intimate Rite of Passage Celebration (girls, women teachers & mothers only) every year for girls that in the school year had their Menarque!

KillaWarmi donated 12 menstrual cloth pads (donated by Lunapads, Canada) for their school medicine cabinet (either for girls who have their menarque at school or that have their first day of moontime and didn't have their pads with them).

* next program of KillaWarmi: "Certification of Friendly Schools for Mooning Women"! *

As part of the collaboration between KW and Peacework-OSU a spanish version of the teen's book "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" (Judy Blume) was donated to the school's library, to be used by all teachers as part of their reading classes,   the intercultural storytelling around menarque from a girls perspective. Judy Blume's simple language, funny, getting into th is very appropriate as part of the informal education around menarque.