Model, mom and activist Christy Turlington Burns is visiting Guatemala to check in on maternal health progress after shooting a piece of her documentary, “No Woman No Cry,” there a few years ago. This is her third blog post in the series.
If anyone ever asks the question, “How much can one fit into three days in Guatemala?” I can tell you that the answer is BASTANTE — a lot!
Today we shifted gears to focus on the original purpose of our trip — premiering my documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry” at the ICARO Film Festival in Guatemala. This has been a step in the direction of a dream I’ve always had since finishing the film — and that is to bring the finished product back to each of the countries profiled in the movie. And there was an added bonus to doing so — spending the day with the resilient maternal and child health community here in Guatemala.
We spent the morning with the dedicated members of the AGMM and OSAR — the Guatemalan women physicians association and the NGO umbrella organization for groups working on maternal and child health in Guatemala. We talked to members of the media about the state of health policy in Guatemala and what needs to happen to advance the issue further here. In fact, two laws have recently been passed in Guatemala — the Healthy Maternity Act and the Universal Access to Family Planning Law.
It was great to get the sense that there has been real progress in this country since I was here last year. Policymakers are starting to take steps forward to providing more comprehensive coverage for maternal and reproductive health. But, as in most every country, they can include the most fantastic policy you can imagine, but until they are funded and implemented, they help no one. So, while the work is by no means over, it’s moving in the right direction.
We did two showings of the film today. The first was in a small theater, where we invited policymakers and key members of civil society who are working on these issues. What a treat it was to walk into the theater and see some of the stars of my film, especially Dr. Linda Valencia from PPFA and her entire family. Linda is truly a champion for the women of this country — driving through the countryside providing services to women in need. I got a new view of her today — she was an activist speaking eloquently to her peers and community about what it would take to save lives. This is something she would know, as she does it every day.
Following the screening was a panel discussion. I had the honor of sitting with my friend Linda as well as Marta Julia Ruiz from the Population Council (who I met when we were both honored at UNFPA), Mirna Montenegro who runs the maternal health observatory in Guatemala OSAR, and Zury Rios, the dynamic congresswoman who has championed this issue.
The second screening was the official premiere at ICARO this evening. Both audiences were great and engaged — they were interested in the making of the film. They were shocked by the statistics and they were eager to know what THEY could do here in their own country. It’s exciting — it’s the start of something. Because, CADA MADRE CUENTA — every mother counts!