The Association Mâ, in support of the Organization of the Indigenous Doctors of Chiapas (OMIECH), needs your help to complete the production of a documentary we have begun to create about the lifework of Micaela Ico Bautista, the Coordinator of the Women and Midwive’s Area of OMIECH.
With this documentary, we hope to call attention to the activities carried out by Micaela over the last 30 which have the objective of preserving and strengthening the practices of traditional Mayan midwives.
The movie follows the route of Micaela in the course of the interview which was realized in the botanical garden adjoining her office desk, and reveal gradually her current work : the organization of the meetings of midwives and workshops in communities (when there are financing), at first in his office then outside. From there, little by little, the documentary will take you further in the world of the traditionnal midwives, by following two of them.
Cultural, social and economic change in Chiapas in recent years, has made the work of Micaela more difficult.
Integrationist policies at the national level and neoliberal policies at the international level have brought about the endagerment of the living cultures of the Tsotsil and Tseltal Mayans (who make up more than a quarter of the population of Chiapas). New generations are progressively moving away from ways of life sustained by relationships with the land and the ancestors.
Even with the introduction of hospitals and clinics in rural Chiapas over the last 40 years, traditional midwives continue to be the main providers of medical attention to women and children in indigenous communities, attending 70% of births.They are respected and acknowledged for their skills which continue to be effective to the present day.
Chiapas is one of the last state’s in Mexico (along with Guerrero and Oaxaca) in which the knowledge and practices of traditional Indigenous midwives have survived. These practices have already been lost in other regions of Mexico, and we feel that it is absolutely vital to prevent this loss from occuring in Chiapas.
The Association Mâ seeks to aid OMIECH in its mission to promote the transmition of traditional knowledge and practices to the next generation. This is achieved through workshops which, in addition to strengthening and developing traditional knowledge, aim at raising women’s consciousness about their rights and sexual and reproductive health. During the last five years, Micaela Ico Bautista has been forced to discontinue these workshops due to lack of funding.
In June of 2015 the city of Rennes awarded The Association Mâ an International Solidarity grant to revive these workshops and organize a meeting of traditional Mayan midwives (the last one was held in 2014 thanks to the help of crowdfounding), the purpose of which was to provide the women with an opportunity to discuss strategies for ensuring that their work continue into the future.
On this occasion, Mâ’s objective is to complete the aforementioned documentary film in order to promote the valuing of ancestral practices in indigenous communities and knowledge preservation. We also hope that showing this film in communities (both at the regional and national level) that do not have access to OMIECH’s workshops and meetings, willencourage thosemidwives who have not embraced their vocation, to do so. We also hope to generate funds for the Women and Midwive’s Area of OMIECH with the sales of DVDs, in this way contributing to the sustainability of its project.
However, the grant from the city of Rennes doesn’t completely cover the production of the documentary film.Therefore, we need your help to carry our project – headed by Micaela Ico Bautista, Rafael Alarcon, Alice Bafoin, Mounia El Kotni and Aurélie Bès de Berc, with the support of d’Agripino Ico Bautista, Susannah Daniels, Gaël Prigent, Nico and Fernando Hernandez – to its completion.
Thank you so much ! :)
The association Mâ
The association Mâ aim to do actions of sensibilisation of respecingt birth and to promote the well being and the blossoming for every people, from birth to death. The association wish also to create an open network between all its differents members (professionnals, students, users, activists, curious…), as to built creatives projects and spread them. We also wish to open this exchange on a intercultural and solidarity way, at the international level, as to open minds and networks.
Since 2011, after an encounter between Alice Bafoin, the founder of the association Mâ, with Micaela Ico Bautista, the corrdinator of the section women and midwifes of OMIECH (Organisation of the Indigeanous Medicines of the State of Chiapas), we have wave some interculturals and solidarity exhanges with the traditionnals midwifes and medicines native of the State of Chiapas, reunites trough OMIECH, whose objective is to save and promote the traditional medicine Maya.
Theses exchanges were in a first time materialised by the organisation in France of showns of documentary films realise by our partner, solidarity events to support their actions, organisation of internships, workshops, and conferences for to make know more their fights. We have as well welcoming in 2011 some native stakeholders from Mexico like the midwife Angelina Martinez Miranda, the traditionnal medicine Fernando Hernandez, and the director, anthropologist and member of OMIECH Agripino Ico Bautista. At the end of 2013, the volunteers of Mâ and OMIECH have lauched a crowdfunding campaign as to organise a traditionnal midwifes meeting. In february 2014, 36 midwifes found themselves at the head office of OMIECH, during two days, to talk about their actual practices. Following to this event, a booklet has been edited.
The principal organiser of this last event was Micaela Ico Bautista. Today, she work with that booklet for animate the workshops that she begins again to give, step by step, in the communities, like in Cancuc in january 2016 :
In 1985, OMIECH, a civil association, born in San Cristobal de Las Casas, in the State of Chiapas, with the aim of sabe and promote the traditonnal medicine Maya. OMIECH mean “Organization of the Indigeneous Medicines of the State of Chiapas”. Its founders members and the major part of its employees are from the native local cultura (Maya-Tsotsil and Maya-Tseltal).OMIECH is the only organisation wich are promoting the traditionnal health knowledges on all the territory of the Chiapas.
During the first years after its creation, OMIECH has been maily work for the strenghtening of the knowledges related to herbal medicine in the Maya medicine, by means of workshops of experiences exchanges, installation of gardens of medicinal plantes in the communities wich are members and collect of theses plants as to build up anherbarium. At the beginning of the 1990, some more specifics works were elaborate with women and parteras of the organisation on the questions of gender and access to healthcare. One research center, the CEDEMM (Center of Developpement of the Medecine Maya) was build, then a museum, a medicinal plants garden and an herbalist’shop at affordable prices for the local population. A traditionnal doctor and several herborists provide a basic service for consultations and advices. The women and midwives section is coordinate by one of the founders of OMIECH, Micaela Icó Bautista. The role of this section is to organise some workshops in the communities members of OMIECH, as to reinforce the knowledges about sexual and reproductive health of the midwifes (plants, antenatal massages, natural birth), and to pass them at the Young generations.
Actually, OMIECH intervene in all the State of Chiapas, but in paticulary in the region of the Altos (populationTsotil and Tseltal), wich are located at 2-3h of road of San Cristobal de Las Casas. The organisation compt 11 communities members, 1646 workshops in native communities, 34 trainings, 3 seminars abroad, and more than 6000 visits of the Museum of Medicine Maya. Some partnerships with researchs institutions and national and international universities had took place for differents types of projects.
Presentation of Micaela Ico Bautista
Member founder of OMIECH since 1985, she is maintening a relationship of trust with a lot of parteras of the network of OMIECH. Her attentive listenning of the parteras reporting their experiences at their friends and collegue, at the occasion of a workshop or when they come to the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, offer her an overall viem of the situations happening in the communities. Consequently, according to the needs expressed and constated by the parteras, she imagine and develop some themes, methodologies and pedagogic tools of the workshop projects in the communities. She organise after jointly with each partera wich have asked her for, some days of workhops. The partera invite the families of her community to meet in one defined location the day choose for the workshop.
Micaela Ico Bautista animate theses meetings in her maternal language (Tsotsil), but also in Tseltal when its necessary. The majority of the native population of the countryside of Chiapas mastered more their own anguage than spanish, and often, some of them don’t know how to read. That’s why Micaela Ico Bautista use more often some illustrations and interactive actvities to engage the exchanges and sharing of experiences between the participants. At the end of each project, she also offers at the participants some illustrated booklets which give infomations about the thematic addressed in the lasts workshops. The children show a special emphasis for the workhops, and can also help in the reading of the booklets among the other generations. Micaela Ico Bautista value the participation of each member of the community and adapat her tools according to the needs. She enrich and actualise her reflexions, pedagogic tools and collective dynamics on participating at the meetings and events at wich the ONGs partners invite her (CIAM, Red de MujeresMesoamericanas contra la Violencia, Seminarios de Proimsee, Congresos y Forosinterculturales y de Derechos de Mujeres, …).
Presentation of the team
Aurélie Bès de Berc
Video makerand designer of pedagogic and scientific and technic tools, she works since many years for the mediatization of the environental and social stakes, with the « petits débrouillards Grand Ouest », for which she had made exhibitions and pedagogic tools on the topic of water and marine energy, but also for Espoir Chiapas en 2007 (exhibition of pictures), the association Galleco in 2013 (videos), the Fondation Y'ibel Cuxlejalil (videos about Mayas thematics) in 2015. Also, she had just finish a documentary of 45 minutes on the moving of a medical institution for autists and psychotiques children, « La Maison des Enfants au Pays », wich will be broadcast at the occasion of the week of mental health.
Agripino Ico Bautista
Video maker and anthropologist graduate of UNACH, he had realise many documentaries with OMIECH, as « El Secreto de la Plantas Medicinales » (2001), « Saberes de las Parteras Mayas » (2004), « El Tresoro Verde de Chiapas » (2006), « Los Ultimos Curanderos » (2010), « Apprendi Sola » (2011), and had give many conferences in some differents places like the National Congress of the Indigenous Eduaction and Intercultural of Oaxaca (2007), the Faculty of Anthopological Sciences (2008), the cafeteria Tierra Adentro (2010). He had the occasion to present his realisations in France (Spot Festival in Nantes in 2011) and in Germany (Festival of Medicine Maya in Berlin in 2012). He his actually the coordinator of the communication section of OMIECH.
Founder of the association Mâ in France in 2009, she had worked in since 5 years, as a volontary in the Chiapas, with OMIECH, and as an organiser of interculturals events in France (Little Congress Nacimiento in 2010, round of broadcastings of the documentary « Knwoledges of indigenous midwives of Chiapas » with Agripino and workshop of Angelina Martinez Miranda in 2011, co-organisation of the event Liber‘naître in Brittany in 2012, round of de conferences around the documentary « Apprendi Sola » in 2014, etc.…).
She is now living at San Cristobal de Las Casas with her family since 2015, and alternates the functions of translator, illustrator, organiser of events, mother, and assistant of Micaela at OMIECH.
Musician and technician, Gaël have especially worked for the music but multiply the collaborations on documentary films (like for example « La vereda de enfrente » from Antonin Alloggio in 2014, « Génération galères » from Joël Martin Da Silva and « Cuadros de una Exposición » from Manuel Cedron and Antonin Alloggio in 2015): compositions, mixing, mastering,…