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If You Build It

January 29, 2013

By Simon Chambers

In 2006, the CAMI opened in Chachihuitan, Mexico, a small mountain community about a two hour drive from San Cristobal.  The CAMI is an Indigenous Women’s House (Casa de la Mujer Indigena) supported by PWRDF partner Kinal Antzetik.  CAMIs serve a number of roles in the community, but the primary role is as a place for traditional midwives to meet, learn, and practice their craft: caring for pregnant women and newborn babies in the community.

Before the CAMI opened, about fifty women died in child birth each year in the Chachihuitan area””a shockingly large number for a population of under 15,000 people.  Since the midwives opened shop at the CAMI, not a single mother has been lost in child birth.

Six midwives and four apprentices currently serve at the CAMI, monitoring the health of mothers, diagnosing high risk pregnancies, navigating the medical system when necessary, providing education and advocating with the authorities.  Marta Perez Perez, the newest apprentice at the CAMI, is committed to becoming a midwife despite the difficulties the vocation can bring.  “There is no recognition or support from the authorities, and we need medications for our patients.  There are no financial resources for them.”

Why does she do this work?  “I strongly believe that the CAMI provides a better method of supporting women’s health needs.  Fewer mothers are dying in child birth now; this is important work,” Perez says.    “I want to learn, to participate in any workshops or courses that will let me provide better service to the women of the community.  I’m proud to be part of the team of midwives!”

With dedicated women like Marta staffing the CAMI, the future is looking bright for the women of Chachihuitan.

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