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Guatemala Trips

Dear Friends,

After a one-year break because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this past January found us in a new town which was more centralized and accessible for those students needing to use public transportation. The mayor of El Tejar, Chimaltenango, Guatemala (30 miles west of Guatemala City) provided us with rooms in a fine motel which had a large and open teaching space where we could have our classes for the midwives, nurses and fire personnel. There was also a couple of areas for eating outside in the warm sunshine when we had our breaks and lunch, and the food was excellent!

We did set up more specific guidelines in order to decrease the chances of getting COVID-19. Rather than a nurse and translator teaching four to six students at each table, we limited it to two. Everyone wore a mask at all times. Students ate in a different area than the team. In the past, we have often had our teams sharing rooms while in Guatemala, but this year each person was provided their own room. At the end of the trip when we were required to get tested before re-entering the United States, we were happy to celebrate that all of our tests came back negative!

We continue to utilize the program “Helping Babies Breathe” developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The emphasis of this program is to assess whether or not an infant is breathing at birth and the steps to take before giving breaths with a bag and mask within the first minute of life (“The Golden Minute”). We continue to give each of the students a backpack filled with the supplies necessary to put their training to use. We also provided a pamphlet that was designed by one of our former team members, Annie Borman, that touched on more of the essentials of newborn care. We were able to accomplish all of this in one day for each of our three days of students.

We appreciate hearing the midwives’ stories and sharing their expertise as we provide our knowledge of resuscitating a baby. One student told us she had observed another midwife delivering a baby who was not breathing. The midwife practiced the steps we taught, then gave the baby some breaths with the bag and mask and the baby started to breathe. She questioned the midwife about where she had learned to do the resuscitation skills and was told that she had taken our class a couple of years ago. I am so happy that baby had a chance in life and proud of that midwife!! We had a successful week of teaching 23 midwives, nurses and fire personnel.

Again, our success lies with the nurses and translators who teach with each of the groups of students. Their knowledge, guidance, patience and respect inspire these students to do their very best. All of our nurses this January had traveled with Baby’s Breath Project in the past. A very big thanks to Leeann Krueger, RN; Christine Johnson, RN; Shannon Grovum, RN: and Allie Mareck, RN. And our sincere gratitude for our translators from Guatemala: Kiki, Sassy, Dulce and Selena.

Quite a few nurses have already approached us about going back to Guatemala in January of 2023. We are hoping that we will have the funds to support two teams in Guatemala for next year – we know there are plenty of midwives, nurses and fire personnel waiting for the opportunity to attend – and we hope to teach over 100 students in 2023.

Please note: Baby’s Breath Project has changed our address. We will be located at 7084 Cahill Road, Edina, MN 55439. Thanks to everyone for your generous support of our organization!

Con mis mejores deseos (with warmest regards),

Meg Dornfeld, Director

Dear Supporters,

This year you supported two teams!! Over the twenty days we were there, we were able to teach 110 midwives and three firefighters, each of whom received a certificate and a Baby’s Breath Project backpack filled with the supplies necessary to put their training to use. We loved hearing the midwives’ stories about their experiences. Their eagerness to learn these resuscitation skills and recognizing what they can do within the first minute of life (The Golden Minute) to stimulate a baby who is not breathing is remarkable. They practice over and over again, eventually becoming more familiar with the equipment that they need to use to put this training in practice.

One young lady (age 12) attended the training along with her grandmother. Her grandmother felt that her granddaughter had a gift to do midwifery. She had already assisted her grandmother with a delivery and decided that she would also learn the resuscitation skills. What an opportunity to pass this knowledge to the next generation.

One partially blind midwife was accompanied by her daughter so that she could assist her mother with her observational skills…what dedication!

This seemed to be one of our more emotional trips. One group of midwives chanted a prayer in their indigenous language prior to our starting the classes. On Graduation Day I had one midwife, while gripping onto her certificate and backpack, fall into my arms with the biggest hug and then start to sob…thanking me over and over for this opportunity. These dedicated women, ranging in their 20s to their 80s arrive after a bus ride between one and two hours. Repeatedly, I heard them thanking each of us for our patience in teaching them.

Our two days with each group that comes for the training was filled with smiles and tears of joy, new friendships and the feeling of accomplishment! And the following quote is from one one of our translators, “I am still moved by the whole experience with comadronas. Every interpreting trip is different for me, but this one felt special in the most giving way. I cannot believe it ended so quickly, thank you for letting me learn from all of you, I treasure it. I am really looking forward to help you any time it's needed.”

I truly have to say that our success lies with the nurses who do the individual teaching at each of the tables when we break up into small groups. Their knowledge, guidance, respect and patience are what truly inspired each of these midwives to do their best. They are organized and were always willing to take on different roles to help me. Our first team was comprised of Ashley France, Morgan Haus, Emma Schnell, Anne Borman, Jill Callister and Emily Petermeier, all being first time volunteers.

Our second team included Christi Johnson, Alizabeth Elfering, Shannon Grovum, Allie Mareck, Diane Schmidt, Julie Wirth Schuster and Anita Thornhill. Four of these nurses had taught in previous years!

Each nurse was provided with a Spanish translator and at some of the tables an additional translator was needed who could speak one of the indigenous languages (Kaqchikel and K’iche – two of the 24 indigenous languages spoken in Guatemala). We owe a big thanks to three American translators, Jan Saunders, Sara Martin and Sam Anderson. Our Guatemalan translators this year were Kiki, Sassy, Renata, Maria, Victoria, and Maribel. Our sincere gratitude also for our University of San Carlos translators Mery, Alessandra, Monica, Joseline and Cindy!

Enjoy the photos and thanks so much for supporting our organization!

Meg Dornfeld, Chair

Santa Catarina Bobadilla, Guatemala: January 2020

The photos on this page are from the classes that were held over two weeks with 110 midwives and three firefighters. The photos in the top row and at the bottom left and right show midwives practicing their resuscitation skills with “NeoNatalie” dolls and, as the photo at right shows, doing some role playing as well!

The “graduation” photos of midwives and the teaching teams here and on the next page were taken after two full days of learning, watching and practicing. For many of them, there was also a long bus ride to and from the teaching each day.

The middle photo on the bottom row on this page is one of the team of nurses and translators that trained midwives. All of the nurses and translators from the United States paid for their own airfare, with Baby’s Breath Project paying for the expenses in Guatemala.

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

April 2019

Dear friends,

This year you supported a great, energetic team of nurses who taught 45 Guatemalan midwives how to resuscitate an infant who is not breathing at birth. We can’t thank you enough for your generosity in giving these midwives an opportunity to learn new skills and receive the appropriate equipment to advance their knowledge during a delivery. It seems as though every year when we return, Dr. Vicente tells us a story of a lifesaving event…we are making a difference!

We again stayed at Las Gravileas near Antigua, Guatemala. It is in a beautiful location where we can eat, sleep and teach. The staff there spoils us with delicious meals!

We continue to teach the Helping Babies Breathe Program developed by a public-private alliance amongst an international group of organizations in response to the World Health Organization’s 2010 goal of reducing infant mortality worldwide. The use of pictorial learning materials and baby mannequins makes the Helping Babies Breathe program very accessible to the midwives in resource-limited countries around the world. The programs include visual guidebooks, flipcharts and posters containing clear, specific instructions to follow. It is also dependent on hands-on learning skill sets and role-playing over the course of two days. The focus is to accomplish these steps within the Golden Minute to save lives and give a much better start to many babies who struggle to breathe at birth.

We also teach Essential Newborn Care to our midwives. We cover different topics such as monitoring for infections, cord care, eye care, temperature stability, breastfeeding, care of a low-birth weight infant, and recognition of an infant who might need advanced care. We do provide everyone with a digital thermometer and give them a chart to easily recognize whether the infant has a normal temperature or if the infant is too hot or too cold. Some midwives are unable to read or write, but with practice, they learn to “match” the number on the chart.

This year, most of the midwives traveled some distance to take our courses. Many came from San Juan Sacatepequez; others came from Tecpan and villages near Escuintla. For most of these midwives, we paid for their transportation to come to our courses as they had to travel quite a distance.

The success of our trips to Guatemala truly are dependent on the nurses who volunteer their time to provide the essential teaching at the tables when we break up into small groups. Their enthusiasm, knowledge and respect for these midwives is truly phenomenal. A very gracious thank you to these nurses who came this year; Leeann (who is my assistant, teaches every year and is extremely organized!!), Monica, Shannon, Allie, Alizabeth, Vui, Suzanne and Kathleen. Each nurse is provided with a Spanish translator and at some tables an additional translator that speaks one of the indigenous languages. We owe a big thanks to our translators Jose, Kiki, Renata, Meg (Maria Estuardo), Julia, Luisa, Han Shu, Jan, Victoria and Magdalena.

The pictures are what really describe our trip. We have established so many new relationships among the midwives and translators which makes it very difficult to say goodbye. Fortunately, we can look back on our website at or our Facebook page and view our memories and new friendships…and invite you to do the same.

Thanks for your support of our organization!!

With warmest regards,

Meg Dornfeld, Chair, Director

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