An Incredible Last Day of Class at the School of POWHER

As the first class of the Comadrona School of POWHER nears graduation, instructor Jessica Oliveira has put together a fun final week for her students to review everything they have learned and prepare for the work that lies ahead.


Today, the 22 women who have invested the time in learning how to ensure safe and healthy births in their communities gathered as usual, chatting excitedly, solidifying new friendships they found through the program. In groups, they simulated how they would respond to medical emergencies ranging from breech births to postnatal bleeding. They played a game of darts, popping balloons containing questions about how to recognize the symptoms of STDs and other infections. They took class photos to be proudly posted on the Saving Mothers website. 


Two bright skylights illuminate the classroom at the local radio station Voce de Atitlán, where the 22 students gather two to three times a week. 

The students broke into groups to tackle a medical emergency and determine what they would do if they arrived at a home birth where a woman was experiencing anything from a breech birth to postnatal bleeding. Learning in groups is common at the School of POWHER.

Groups then acted out in short skits how they would respond to emergencies under the watchful eye of instructor Oliveira, who would provide feedback along the way. Reacting well in critical situations is one of the most important skill sets for working comadronas.

Skits are among the class’ favorite activities, giving them hands-on experience in the classroom before they head out in the field.

The students were excited to take class photos in their official Saving Mothers uniforms, which will give them a professional edge in the field. We’ll be posting the entire class of 2014 on the Saving Mothers website and will keep you posted when you can see all these amazing graduates!

Oliveira turned a game of darts into a quiz show for students refreshing their knowledge of common STDs and infections. Recognizing the signs and treatments for these conditions is one way our graduates will help empower women to take control of their reproductive health. 

Even Saving Mothers President Nichole Young-Lin and Medical Director Taraneh Shirazian took a whack at the game of darts.

But, most notably, the students spoke. Three students shared how much the program has meant to them over the last couple months, how much they have learned, and how prepared they feel to offer women in their community the care they deserve before, during and after pregnancy. At Saving Mothers, we say our mission is three-fold: to improve women’s health, education and empowerment. All three were apparent today, and filled us with emotion and drive to keep going and growing.

The room filled with emotion listening to the impact the class has made on students, and what they will carry with them into the future.

What started as a class has become its own community, with the women partnering together to learn, make home visits to patients in rural, undersupplied areas, and share what it’s like to be a woman living and making a difference in Santiago, Guatemala. It’s been incredible to see this group come together, explore their potential, and chart careers that will improve life for thousands of people — some of whom have yet to be born. 

As part of the Saving Mothers team observing the class, the School and the work for the very first time, I am inspired. But beyond that, I am confident in our ability to make real, vital change as one team, one new student at a time.

We are so excited about hosting a second class at the School of POWHER, but we need help to make it possible. The program only works because of the facilities, supplies and time we can invest in each student to help them succeed. 


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