Shandy Potes Mangra is a St. Catherine University student completing her MPH practicum with CMMB. After serving in Huancayo, Peru for two weeks, Shandy shares her first impressions.

I’ve been in Huancayo, Peru for only about two weeks now, and yet, I already feel very welcome and at home here. The staff at CMMB Peru made me feel like family immediately.

Shandy with CMMB staff. Among them is CMMB country director, Ariel

Shandy (second to the left) with fellow international volunteer, Yamilet, and two members of the CMMB Peru team.

The amount of dedication and time that this team dedicates to improving health conditions for mothers and children in Huancayo, leaves such an impression on me.

My Role

While in Peru, I am assisting with the initial part of a project started between CMMB and St. Catherine University. The project explores how women become promotores or community health agents, how their involvement as promotores affects their lives, and how their work is changing cultural beliefs on gender equality in Peru.

I have had several opportunities to shadow several of the promotoras working within the five sectors served in Huancayo.

Observing a consejeria alongside Rosario M. a Community health Agent Leader

Taking note. Observing a consejeria alongside Rosario, a Community health Agent Leader.

Many of the promotoras I have met, observed, and talked with often reflect on becoming promotores in order to expand their understanding about the effects of anemia in children and pregnant mothers, and how they can help reduce anemia in their communities.

Promotoras often receive little support from their partners or families when they first decide to become community health agents. The tenacity and strength of these promotoras, who are mothers themselves, is inspiring. Their commitment to helping mothers who face similar situations at home seems to have no limits.

Workshop on healthy food recipes - a woman wearing a chef hat presents to the group

Assisting with a workshop on healthy foods and recipes rich in Iron in Sapallanga. The session was lead by CMMB licensed Nurse Gladys Meza Reyes and Community health Agent Leader Esther Techi (in the chefs hat).

Mothers with their children sampling food

Mothers with their children sampling food while learning more about foods rich in iron, how to increase its absorption, and how to avoid foods that prevent absorption at a workshop.

I have been able to witness the close relationships that promotoras have developed with the mothers they support. What is also incredible is the number of promotoras who express how their experience has personally challenged them and changed them for the better. There are so many things I will take back with me from Peru — One of them being the strength and fortitude of the many mothers CMMB works alongside who want to use what they’ve learned to support other mothers.

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