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Guatemala Trips

November 2023

Dear friends,

I can’t believe that we have been teaching in Guatemala for 15 years now! And in these 15 years, we have taught over 1,000 nurses, midwives and firefighters! Initially we taught infant resuscitation and stabilization for nurses in hospital environments; but in the last 11 years, we turned our attention to the more rural areas of Guatemala to teach midwives. After several years firefighters and nurses who had heard about our training also began to attend our classes.

Baby’s Breath Project utilizes a program called Helping Babies Breathe which focuses on the first minute of life, or the “Golden Minute” in which a baby needs to start breathing. If they are not breathing, we teach the skills needed to stimulate the baby to breathe and/or give the baby breaths with a bag and mask. During the six-to-eight-hour class the participants are immersed in role playing on how to care for the mother and the baby. We teach the initial steps that go from a routine birth to a birth where the baby is not breathing.

In order for our program to be successful, we also feel that it is important to give them the equipment needed for resuscitation. Each midwife receives a backpack that has a resuscitation bag and mask, suction bulb, surgical towels, diapers, hats, umbilical tape, soap, thermometer and the Helping Babies Breathe reference book.

We are truly grateful for the volunteer nurses and doctors who have traveled to Guatemala over these many years! Their wisdom, enthusiasm and welcoming attitude is what generates our successful classes. We arrange for a translator for each of our volunteers and at times, if some of the midwives do not understand Spanish, we hire translators that can speak their indigenous language. Their help and friendship over the years is invaluable!

Of course, all of our trips have a price tag. 98% of our budget goes toward accommodations and meals for our team members; lunches and snacks for the midwives, firefighters or nurses who are attending our classes; transportation needs within Guatemala; the location for teaching our classes; the medical equipment included in the backpacks; and translator stipends. The remaining 2% of the budget goes toward miscellaneous operating expenses, outreach and fundraising. There are no salaried positions in our organization. All of our volunteers pay for their own airfare and are generous in giving up their vacation time for these trips.

We hope this finds all of you well. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers in January 2024 when a team of 11 of us return to teach in El Tejar, Guatemala.

One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Baby’s Breath Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so your donation is tax deductible. You can also make your contribution through our website: We invite you to check out a 10-minute video at our website covering our trip in March 2023.

Muchas gracias,

Meg Dornfeld, Director

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.

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