For most, take your medicine! conjures up negative images of spoonfuls of cherry cough syrup or days spent in bed with the flu. For the clients of one microfinance institution, FAPE, based out of Guatemala City, Guatemala, it is something much sweeter. FAPE recently teamed up with the Canadian Government and an NGO “Gems of Hope” to provide low cost medicine and medical consultations to its clients as well as free health education.
How it works. A Gems of Hope team arrives to the village bank meetings with FAPE´s loan officer. After loan repayments are collected, one member of the Gems of Hope team does a presentation specifically targeted to women. The one I attended was on self-esteem, but the presentations can range from disease prevention to healthy living to child care. Meanwhile, the other member of the Gems of Hope team provides consultations to the women and children as needed. Consultations are offered by licensed medical professionals commissioned by FAPE and Gems of Hope at Q15 per family (for a woman and her three children, $1.88). Medicine, if needed, is sold at cost to the clients.
After the presentation, the women are taught new, healthy recipes (all of which use plenty of vegetables). Another program instituted by Gems of Hope and FAPE is the commissioning of emergency medical teams. As the Gems of Hope medical teams can only visit each village bank once a month (when payments are made), they are training and commission a group of 15-19 women to serve their communities in case of collective disaster or emergency. The trainings are extensive (over 40 days in total) and span topics from basic first aid to midwife training to reduce infant mortality.
For those wondering like I did, what medical alternatives to these borrowers have? I discovered that the local social services offer consultations and medicine at Q25 ($3.13), and local clinics offer consultations for Q15 (per person, as opposed to per family). Unfortunately, both are funded by the government´s Department of Health which is currently bankrupt. These services, according to one borrower, are now unreliable and infrequent.
So, we have a strategic alliance between a Kiva field partner, FAPE, and a medical team, Gems of Hope. This alliance is able to reach a large number of women and client in local communities (because of FAPE´s reputation) with invaluable services that aren´t currently offered by anyone else at cost.
Now that’s what I would call GOOD MEDICINE.'
If you dig what FAPE is doing, Join FAPE´s lending team HERE.
Lend to Guatemalan borrowers HERE.
Eric Burdullis is a Kiva Fellow serving FAPE in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He enjoys the sun for the 15 minutes a day it stops raining, and the flooding he has to avoid to get home. He is currently eating a shuko which is affectionately known as the Guatemalan Subway.