11.16.13 We are excited to announce that the video for this project is now available! Thank you for sharing with your friends!
11.11.13: Thanks to your support, our project has reached 50% of funding. Our partner in Mexico was very excited to hear that, and thanks you for your generosity. Please help us fund this project fully to make this meeting happen!
We want to organize a regional meeting of Mayan midwives of the state of Chiapas to be held this December, 2013. The participants come from 11 indigenous communities of the state of Chiapas and they are members of the Organization of Indigenous Doctors of the state of Chiapas (OMIECH). This project will carry out a 2 day meeting of representatives (1 man and 2 women from each community) in San Cristobal de Las Casas and produce a video that will be used in the communities as a pedagogical tool.
The meeting is a very important event for the midwives of this organization. It is usually an annual event, but due to financial difficulties the midwives have not been able to meet since 2010. The midwives have asked us to organize this meeting because they feel that their knowledge is being lost and the impact of this loss is felt by the indigenous communities. This loss is due to the fact that the younger generation does not show an interest in learning traditional medicine and midwives have increasingly less patients. There are many health problems in the communities that can be resolved with the help of midwives.
Chiapas (as well as Guerrero) is one of the last states in Mexico where this sort of traditional knowledge continues to exist and is put into practice. It has been lost in other regions of the country and for this reason we think that it would be a tragedy if this were to occur in Chiapas.
The direct beneficiaries of the meeting would be 33 individuales who represent 11 communities. During the meeting, they will exchange information regarding health problems in the communities, solutions to these problems and they will exchange their knowledge regarding medicinal plants and birthing techniques.
The indirect beneficiaries of this meeting would be the people of the indigenous communities. When the midwives return to their communities they will take back with them enhanced knowledge and greater confidence in their work. In this way, the health of their patients will be improved. They will also share their knowledge with other midwives (and apprentices) in their communities.
The meeting will also benefit OMIECH, providing it with encouragement to carry out future projects and helping to make more visible midwives demands and the reproductive health problems of the communities. This will facilitate the development of new projects that respond to local needs.
Who are we?
The Organization of Indigenous Doctors of the state of Chiapas (OMIECH) focuses on consciousness raising in the general society and on promoting the knowledge and practice of Traditional Indigenous Medicine (TIM) and Primary Health Care in the indigenous communities in particular. It facilitates training workshops on the knowledge, use, defense, development and promotion of TIM, seeking to improve the health and self-sufficiency of indigenous communities by offering its health services at the local, regional national and international level. OMIECH is a self-sufficient organization that offers training and quality service in primary health care in an intercultural environment.
The work of The Midwives and Women’s Area of OMIECH addresses pregnancy, labor and the postpartum stage of women’s reproductive health. The organization’s methodology involves a training process directed at young women in the communities who are interested in reviving, promoting and preserving traditional midwifery, as a medical-cultural practice that contributes to the reduction of infant and maternal death. Likewise, research has been done to identify the medicinal plants that women and midwives use for contraceptive purposes. With this information, we can provide women with alternatives that enable them to plan their families.
The Mâ Association in France has existed since 2009. Its objectives are to direct actions aimed at increasing sensitivity regarding respectful birthing practices and to promote the well-being and sound mind of individuals from birth until old age. The association also contributes to creating social links and open networks at the local and international level through cultural exchange and solidarity actions. Its collaboration with OMIECH since 2010 has been based upon these shared values.
Presentation of the Association Má team and The Midwives and Women’s Area:
In France: Alice Bafoin
In the United States: Mounia El Kotni
In Chiapas: Micaela Ico Bautista, Agripino Ico Bautista, Susannah Daniels y Rafael Alarcón
Why do we do this?
According to the 2005 INEGI census, Chiapas has 4, 239, 459 habitants, classifying it as the seventh most populated state in Mexico. Chiapas is one of the states with the largest indigenous population and is also one of the poorest states in the country despite the fact that it is rich in natural resources. Despite the importance of it having a large indigenous population (27%), indigenous knowledge is not respected – and in particular, midwives knowledge are not legitimized by Western medicine although this knowledge continues to be extremely important to the indigenous population.
We think that it is important to revive, share and value the wisdom of the midwives of Chiapas. Their knowledge is just as important for pregnant women as it is for the communities - midwives have a wealth of knowledge regarding plants and the environment. The scope of their work curing disease and attending to families goes beyond the health care they provide to mothers and their future child.
We will continue to develop projects and this meeting will facilitate conversation regarding the future of the organization and possible financial resources. The meeting will be a breath of new life for the organization.