Twenty-seven-year-old Adeli lives in the small town of Santo Tomas Milpas Altas, Guatemala, with her three children and husband. She grew up not far from where she lives today in a small house with six siblings. Her father was a wood craftsman and her mother worked at a bakery. Despite both working, with seven children they struggled to make ends meet, and Adeli started working at an early age to help cover household expenses and her school fees. “I did see my parents had problems, financial issues, but once we were old enough we started working on our own to help our parents with the income. I would work and study while living at home,” Adeli explained.
Adeli finished high school, where she studied to be a bilingual secretary, but she never became a secretary after marrying at 19 and having her first child shortly after at age 20. When she became pregnant, Adeli had never received comprehensive sexual or reproductive education. “In elementary school, middle school, high school they always talked a little bit about sexual education, but I really didn’t understand contraceptive methods,” she added. It was not until after her third child that Adeli met Etelvina, a community promoter with local health organization WINGS, that Adeli fully understood her options. “I didn’t really lean about sexual education until I came to Etelvina,” she said.
Adeli with her neighbor and health promotor Etelvina.
Just one year after having her first daughter, Adeli discovered she was pregnant again. Without contraceptive information, she was not able to plan, and this concerned her: “My first child was a very wanted baby, we were expecting her with much joy; but my second pregnancy was a little too soon. We didn’t give ourselves enough time to wait for that second pregnancy.”
After her second child, Adeli was determined to space her pregnancies and decided to begin getting contraception injections every three months. However, with two small children and only one income, she was not always able to afford her contraception shot from the local pharmacy and became pregnant again just over a year after having her second child.
Etelvina’s contraceptive commodity educational kit she uses to explain the variety of options to Adeli and thousands of other women in her community.
With three children all under the age of five, Adeli wanted to ensure she could access the contraception she wanted to plan her life. She said everything changed when she met Etelvina, the community health promoter with WINGS: “I found out about Etelvina because sometimes she puts signs outside her front door … I used to pay 90 quetzales for the shot [at the pharmacy], and with Etelvina I pay 15 quetzales, so that helps me financially …. What I used to pay the drug store I can now use it to pay for a full day of food and to help pay for my child’s schooling.” With the lower cost contraception and easy access at Etelvina’s neighborhood clinic, Adeli has never missed a shot. WINGS is able to offer this deeply discounted rate for contraceptives because they purchase commodities from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). As the largest purchaser of contraceptive commodities globally, UNFPA can buy in bulk and secure deep discounts.
Without Etelvina, and the reliable services she provides, Adeli noted that her life and the lives of her neighbors would be much different: “It would be very difficult for us and the neighborhood because we would have to buy our contraceptive methods and it would be very expensive. We wouldn’t have access to them like we do now.” And without access to family planning, Adeli adds, “my life would probably be more difficult. I would probably have another pregnancy, and that would not be good because it’s too close to my prior pregnancy.”
For Adeli, access to contraception is key to her ability to ensure she and her children are not only healthy but also prosperous and secure: “I wanted to space my pregnancies and I wanted to give my children a better quality of life.” Adeli is already struggling to afford school fees for her oldest daughter, and fears she won’t be able to afford school for her other children when they reach school age. She wants her children’s lives to be better than hers, and she sees the ability to plan as critical to that goal: “I want their lives to be different in having things I wasn’t able to have.”
Adeli sees the benefits access to such basic health care has brought to her life and wants the same for all women of Guatemala. “I think family planning is important for Guatemalan women because that way we can have our babies with more time, not so close together. That way we can give them a better quality of life,” she concluded.
Adeli’s home in the small town of Santo Tomas Milpas Altas, Guatemala.
“I didn’t really lean about sexual education until I came to Etelvina”
“My first child was a very wanted baby, we were expecting her with much joy; but my second pregnancy was a little too soon. We didn’t give ourselves enough time to wait for that second pregnancy.”