Breaking ground…Fara partners with global nonprofit Grounds for Health
By Shermakaye Bass, Fara Foundation reporter and editor
On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate our first birthday. In this brief time, we’ve evolved from infant to precocious youngster – with more than a little help from our friends. Foremost among those is Grounds for Health, a Vermont-based nonprofit whose sole mission is to prevent (eventually eradicate) cervical cancer in developing countries. So it is with great pleasure that Fara announces a new alliance with GFH.
As of next month, our Fara Clinic in Matagalpa will become the referral clinic for GFH’s outreach recipients in northern Nicaragua. What that means is that any woman working with GFH who has tested positive for cervical cancer or who exhibits symptoms leading to the disease will immediately be sent to Fara Clinic for further treatment. At our clinic, options for full-blown cancer sufferers include cryotherapy and LEEP procedure –two outpatient treatment options that make us unique in the region.
Some of Grounds for Health's hard-working staff in Nicaragua
According to Jane Dale, head of development for GFH, this alliance is only the beginning. As long as Fara can accommodate, Grounds will refer patients. This is terrific news, capping a terrific first year for Fara Foundation. Below, Dale discusses the collaboration.
FF: How did you learn about Fara Foundation?
GFH: Manny and Maria Farahani have been good friends and great supporters of Grounds for Health for many years. We number Fara Cafe
(now Fara Coffee
) among our strongest and most loyal supporters. Maria Farahani
joined our Board of Directors in June 2011.
FF: Briefly, what does GFH do?
GFH: Since 1996, Grounds for Health has been developing sustainable cervical cancer screening, treatment and training programs in coffee growing communities in Latin America and Africa. Cervical cancer remains the No. 1 cause of cancer death for women throughout the developing world– simply for lack of access to prevention, screening and early treatment of this preventable cancer.
FF: How did GFH evolve — what was its impetus, and what things are the nonprofit most proud of having accomplished in the past couple of years?
GFH: The organization was founded by a coffee executive who was traveling to Mexico (in the mid 1990’s) and learned of the high death toll from cervical cancer in rural areas. He decided to do something about it. To date, we have directly screened more than 20,000 women, trained more than 250 medical personnel who have the potential to screen tens of thousands of women in the future, trained over 400 community health promoters and have equipped 27 clinics in Latin America and Tanzania.
FF: And how did you all choose to work with us?
GFH: We have a long-term and mutually supportive friendship with the Farahanis (Austin/Matagalpa-based founders of Fara Cafe and Fara Foundation). The development of their clinic (which debuted in late 2010) provides Grounds for Health with a local referral site for women who are screened for cervical cancer and found to be in need of more substantial treatment. Our in-country program coordinator, Dr. Barinia Osejo
, will be the primary liaison between Grounds for Health and the Fara Clinic in Nicaragua.
Grounds for Health has screened more than 20,000 women globally for cervical cancer and trained hundreds of medical professionals and social workers.
FF: How do you think the two foundations might collaborate in the future?
GFH: We plan to collaborate with Fara Foundation and its clinic indefinitely.
FF: What are GFH’s ultimate goals/missions? And in what countries do you concentrate your efforts?
GFH: We currently have programs in Nicaragua, Mexico and Tanzania — with plans to explore Peru as a new site in 2012. We are also undertaking a Master Training program and curriculum which will enable us to respond by 2013 to requests for training and assistance we have received from over a dozen countries, including El Salvador, Indonesia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Colombia, to name a few.
FF: Why is cervical cancer so rampant in developing countries and countries that have been disrupted by war and political upheaval?
GFH: First of all, it has to be reiterated that cervical cancer is preventable. Its unacceptably high incidence in the developing world is solely attributable to lack of access to basic prevention and treatment. Barriers to access that exist — especially in rural areas — include lack of transportation, child care, information, health care infrastructure, things such as that.
FF: How does Grounds for Health choose which areas it serves?
GFH: We go to areas where we are invited by coffee cooperatives. It is imperative that these organizations have a strong commitment to establishing their own, sustainable cervical cancer prevention, screening and treatment programs, as Fara does; and that the infrastructure exists in the country to provide women with more intensive services and treatment, should they be found to have full-blown cancer. Today, unfortunately, we have many more invitations than we can accept.
FF: What do you think of Fara Foundation’s work during its first year? And what could we do more of in future?
GFH: We are so impressed with the efforts and commitment of the Fara Foundation to give back to the country of Maria’s birth. The Farahanis are philanthropists in the best sense of the word: They have experienced success and good fortune and are determined to share those benefits with others less fortunate. Their efforts will have a lasting impact for generations to come.