December 29, 2003 - Wings: Colombia RPCV Sue Patterson is founder of Women´s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions (Wings)

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: The Peace Corps in Guatemala: December 29, 2003 - Wings: Colombia RPCV Sue Patterson is founder of Women´s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions (Wings)

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Colombia RPCV Sue Patterson is founder of Women´s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions (Wings)

Colombia RPCV Sue Patterson is founder of Women´s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions (Wings)

WINGS provides knowledge, financial resources and access for the many poor Guatemalans who want to plan their families. We also provide other reproductive health services, including Pap smear screening and follow-up treatment to prevent and detect cervical cancer.

* The average number of children per woman in Guatemala is 5; the rate is higher among rural indigenous women

* Just 40% of Guatemalan women report using birth control, including natural methods

* An additional 30% of women would like to plan their families but do not have physical or financial access to family planning methods

* Cervical cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer-related deaths among Guatemalan women because many do not have access to regular detection screening and adequate follow-up treatment

WINGS was created to help impoverished Guatemalans, particularly women, obtain family planning services and reproductive health care – out of reach for many due to lack of knowledge, and financial and physical limitations. WINGS seeks to mitigate these factors through education, outreach into the most rural communities and subsidizing costs. WINGS works in collaboration with many non-profit organizations, including the Asociación Pro-Bienestar de la Familia de Guatemala (APROFAM), the largest private, non-profit provider of family planning services in the country. Through these joint efforts, WINGS utilizes existing infrastructures to maximize access while not duplicating services.


WINGS began in 1999, when Sue Patterson, an American living in Guatemala, sought donations to help 7 women, each of whom had at least 8 children, pay for the tubal ligation they requested but could not access. The response to Sue’s fundraising was generous and motivated her to continue subsidizing the cost for those with family planning needs but limited ability to obtain them. This resulted in the development of a more structured organization; in 2001 WINGS was formally incorporated as a U.S. 501 ©(3) non-profit organization, making donations tax deductible.

WINGS continues to grow. We now employ 2 full-time Health Promoters – one female and one male – who work in rural communities forming partnerships, providing educational seminars, organizing Pap smear and voluntary sterilization clinics for both men and women, and tracking any necessary follow-up treatments.

Q'eqchi' Mayan Women Waiting for a Tubal Ligation


* To provide impoverished Guatemalans with financial resources to access the family planning services they seek

* To utilize existing Guatemalan institutions and personnel to reach the target population most effectively and without duplicating services

* To encourage beneficiaries to pay whatever they are able for services received. While such payments are often nominal, they stretch resources, confirm that the services are chosen voluntarily and seriously, and give dignity to the client

The core of WINGS’ philosophy is that anyone who wants to plan their family should be provided with the knowledge needed to make an informed choice as well as access to quality services. We accomplish this by conducting educational talks and outreach in communities and working with existing institutions with infrastructure, such as APROFAM and Ministry of Health clinics. This combination of resources – which includes personnel, facilities and finances – ensures that a greater number of people receive family planning services.

Frequently, APROFAM’s staff will conduct family planning counseling and a client will choose a method, but not have access due to financial limitations. WINGS subsidizes the cost for that client.

WINGS also holds rural Pap smear clinics and arranges any necessary follow-up treatment, which provides an additional opportunity to discuss reproductive health, sexually-transmitted diseases, hygiene and general nutrition with clients.

Sue Patterson, founder and Executive Director of WINGS, grew up in Colorado, graduated from Duke University, and became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia before joining the Foreign Service. She has lived in Chile, Iran, Guatemala and Italy, and now lives permanently in Guatemala. She has two grown daughters.

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Story Source: Wings

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Service; COS - Colombia; COS - Guatemala



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