Experience as a mother and grandmother makes a difference as a Volunteer

By Kay Davis
Dec. 14, 2017

Kay Davis, a native of Maine, is a 72-year-old maternal and child health Volunteer in Guatemala. 

I cannot climb up volcanoes like some, but I have found a warm welcome among the people in Guatemala as an older person. Most of the Volunteers are 40-plus years younger than me, but we found common ground.  

Kay Davis serves as a maternal and child health Volunteer in Guatemala.
Kay Davis serves as a maternal and child health Volunteer in Guatemala.

Until I left for Guatemala, I worked as a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. I was born in Maine, grew up there and returned to Maine nearly 30 years ago. Five of my children still live there. I have many friends and family in Maine. Leaving full-time work to come to Guatemala was an adjustment.  

I spent 3 years in Chile as a young woman and the [Spanish] language came back. The Mayan language here, Kaqchikel, is a challenge but they appreciate that I make the effort. Guatemalans show a lot of respect to older Volunteers.  

I work in maternal and child health work with Mentoring Mothers, who are educated to help other mothers in the community, and have found my years of experience as a mother and grandmother to be a strong link to the mothers and children with whom I work.  

The people talk to me as a mother, grandmother and widow. The midwives listen to me because I am a peer who understands what they do. The mothers trust that I know their challenges of breastfeeding and parenting, and open up about their challenges. 

I would love to encourage more older Volunteers. 

Kay Davis

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