María Tina Sánchez Raymundo is a 33-year old single mother living in San Juan Acul, Guatemala. Raised in a large family (seven siblings!), Tina grew up helping out on her family farm. She currently works as a cook in her community’s school and has volunteered as a Leader Mother with FH Guatemala for the past eight years. Considered by her friends to be “participatory, committed, determined, and responsible”, Tina loves teaching other mothers how to keep their families healthy and safe.
Q: What is your specific role in the community as a Leader Mother?
T: Prior to the pandemic*, we met once a week with the FH facilitator to receive health and nutrition training specifically on topics such as essential care for pregnant women and newborns, exclusive breastfeeding, early infant stimulation, and others. After receiving training, we replicate it to our neighbourhood circle with the objective that the children of our community grow and develop healthily according to the heart of God.
Q: Why did you choose to become a leader in your community?
T: I feel that it is necessary to participate and contribute for the development of my community. In the past there was no opportunity to participate in leadership due to cultural issues, but thanks to FH training there has been a great change in the community and in the integration of leadership. Together we can lead; God has given us the ability. I know that holding hands we are stronger and achieve a community without malnutrition, free of violence, and flourishing.
Q: What do you love most about your role?
T: Being part of a group of volunteer mothers, receiving demonstration training from FH through flip charts, and then sharing it with my neighbours has been a great satisfaction for me. Knowing that families practice good health and see their children as the image and likeness of God fills me with great joy. I like to learn and I plan to continue studying. Being a leader in my community has given me a lot of strength to continue with the Leader Mother work and I try to inspire other mothers to get ahead regardless of adversity.
Q: What does your typical day look like?
T: When I get up, I prostrate myself on the edge of my bed to pray before doing my planned activities. Then I prepare breakfast for my daughter and later I clean the house. I take a couple of hours to knit before I prepare lunch for myself and my daughter. In the afternoon, I visit my parents. On some occasions, FH calls me to receive training on a new food recipe.
I read my flip charts to get ready to share it with my neighbours. I read the Bible, and before dinner I help my daughter do her homework. I also like to weave güipil [traditional Guatemalan cloth] to sell or make it for my daughter.
Q: What is the hardest part of being a Leader Mother?
T: The most difficult for me has been to share about health issues with families who do not want to listen. I have met some who have treated me badly to the point that they close the door saying that I should look for a job. The pandemic has also been a very difficult issue for me, but with God's help we will move forward.
Q: Describe a time when your work in the community made a real difference for a family.
T: I was able to follow up closely the case of two children who lived in my community. They had malnutrition but they recovered and reached their proper weight. At that time, we were following up with them through visits with health personnel and FH staff. We thank God for these recovered children.
Q: What is one of your most memorable times with FH?
T: To see the culmination of one clinic with three separate wards to treat patients based on their needs. With that I am sure pregnant women can be treated comfortably and safely. The clean-up walks we carried out with my neighbourhood circle also caught my attention—that way we kept a clean and safe community.