Partner Profile:

WINGS GUATEMALA

What I See

Guatemala is a country of great disparities. The gap between the different socioeconomic groups is one of the largest in Latin America and only getting bigger.

Those in rural communities, the majority indigenous populations, are the most vulnerable and underserved, lacking access to basic services, including reproductive health and education.

For us, what it really comes down to is that we believe in the power of reproductive autonomy.
Imagine having to ask: What will I feed my children today when we have no food? How will I decide which of my children will not go hungry today?

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WINGS Guatemala’s Theory of Change is rooted in the belief that it all begins with reproductive rights. Through the provision of quality, patient-centered, rights-based contraceptive methods and sexual health/reproductive health (SHRH) education, we empower youth, women, and men to lead healthier lives and have healthier families.

Specifically, the prevention of unintended pregnancies in turn leads to myriad personal and societal improvements including decreased malnutrition, decreased maternal/infant deaths, increased education/school attendance, decreased family violence, increased job opportunities, decreased environmental impact, and decreased forced migration.

By giving individuals the knowledge and tools to prevent unintended pregnancies, we provide life-changing strategies in a country where the burden of pregnancy looms large, especially for poor women, indigenous women, and young women.

And while we certainly provide education and contraceptives to men, the majority of our patients are women. We feel a responsibility to respond to their needs as they often struggle to simply take care of themselves and their families.

What I’m Proud Of

Since our foundation in 2001, WINGS Guatemala has stayed true to its mission, which is providing quality reproductive health education and services to all underserved, but primarily rural, youth, women and men.

We have reached 315,495 youth, women and men, and have prevented 286,625 unintended pregnancies.

Through our services in 14 out of 22 departments (similar to US States), in 2020 WINGS will offer more than 75,000 CYPs*, and prevent approximately 40,000 unintended pregnancies.

* Couple-years of protection (CYP) is defined as the estimated protection provided by family planning (FP) services during a one-year period, based upon the volume of all contraceptives sold or distributed free of charge to clients during that period.

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Now in our 19th year, we have been through significant changes – programmatically, geographically, financially – and are now at a point where we are a major player in the Guatemalan landscape of service provision AND organizational capacity.

Other local NGOs look to us for guidance, other medical providers reference our high-quality services, and we are well-respected in our NGO circles.

We now can consider growing in ways that will eventually allow us to reach even more Guatemalans while maintaining our comittment to the highest quality of care.

I Feel Happy When

Every day. The work WINGS Guatemala does is so critical to the well-being of individuals, families, and communities that every day we are out in the rural areas providing SRHR education and services makes us feel incredibly happy, honored, and proud.

Having said that, our work is measured by the impact it creates. There is definitely a larger sense of achievement when WINGS Guatemala is able to prevent an unintended pregnancy in an adolescent… 

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… especially in an individual who otherwise would see her life change in drastic ways.

In 2012, WINGS made a documentary, Blessed Fruit of the Womb (available on our website and at https://vimeo.com/61691613.) You can imagine that here at the WINGS office, we have seen that video a few hundred times over the years.

One woman’s story is remarkable: Doña Isabel Gutiérrez from Sololá tells our promotora, Ester, that she is afraid to use a family planning method because she’s heard you can die from a contraceptive injection. The fact that only 4 of her 10 children have survived because of malnutrition is heartbreaking.

We think often about the worry that must be ever-present in the minds of Guatemalan women like Doña Isabel: what will I feed my children today when we have no food? How will I decide which of my children will not go hungry today?

WINGS works to prevent that situation.

By giving Guatemalans the tools to space their pregnancies, or stop having children altogether, we can truly take away the worry of not enough food, increasing the chances that each child will get enough to eat and grow to be happy and healthy. That makes us happy.

What’s Surprising Is

Larger grants, and grants from family foundations tend to be restricted. This limits our capacity to invest in new ideas, like pilot projects where we could test new interventions, or much needed assets (like computers or medical equipment) that would allow us to accomplish our work in a more effective and efficient way. 

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Furthermore, sometimes throwing money at a problem is just not enough. Because we work in reproductive health, working for us can be seen as controversial for our employees.

Additionally, we require a level of training that is unparalleled in Guatemala. We train a nurse for three months before she can function autonomously and we have the highest expectations for all our medical providers.

These conditions mean that maintaining a skilled clinical team is both challenging and absolutely necessary. In order to continue to grow our reach, our team has to grow as well.

A Direct Grant

Receiving unrestricted money or general operating grants would allow WINGS Guatemala to replace old computers and printers, pay for staff trainings, or send staff to international conferences where they could learn of new interventions and best practices.

Another area in which we could invest is creating (and testing) pilot interventions or even begin providing services in new geographical areas where unmet need is highest.

When we dream big at WINGS, which we often do, we talk about…

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…. (a) having our own clinic building with all the necessary components to be more efficient (multiple clinic rooms, meeting rooms, parking, storage) and (b) replicating various aspects of our programming all over the country.

We know there is a need for our services in nearly every community across Guatemala and we would love to be everywhere we are needed.

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