--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Anything we love can be saved”
-- Alice Walker
I am six months into my Fulbright year, with about 4 months to go. In many ways things are just getting started. I have started attending births with some of the local midwives and most likely will be on call until I leave. I am still working at the clinic as well. Much of my focus has also been on moving forward this initiative to start a midwifery school here at the lake. It has been an incredible process and seems to have a life of its own. There are many people who want to see this happen and we all feel profoundly supported by unseen forces. Even the pieces I am doing feel like they are being handed to me one by one and are simply coming through me.
It’s as if the midwifery school is in gestation and wants to be born-- a school that can be an avenue for women to receive an education that will strengthen their communities and safeguard their rights to give birth safely, in dignity and in freedom. I am simply helping to midwife the birth of this school. I am answering that call.
We want to create a program that incorporates Mayan healing practices with the midwifery model of care, holistic medicine, clinical practice in home and hospital settings, leadership training and women’s circles.
I want to incorporate women’s circles as a core part of the curriculum. This is partly based on my experience of leading birth circles for two years in Western Massachusetts and watching it grow (even after I left) into a thriving women’s community--something I could not have predicted. Some of the most powerful experiences of my life have been while I was sitting in women’s circles. In fact I believe that women’s circles have the power to transform the world. Truly when women start to own their power and their vision there will be a healing force unleashed that cannot be stopped because the world is hungry for it--men, women, children, and nature alike. I believe it is already happening and we just need to tune in to each other and to our own callings.
Little did we know, but this midwifery school project has developed at an incredibly auspicious moment. Just two weeks ago a new program of the Ministry of Health was initiated that brings indigenous healers and indigenous health practices into the official health care system. This program is being born in San Pedro La Laguna and I was privileged to be at the election of Guatemala’s very first ever indigenous health council. It consists of the Minister of Health and 6 indigenous healers, including two midwives. (Photos in the slide show) There are only two men on the council. From now on, all community health issues such as water quality, infectious disease, health policy issues, any kind of community-wide problem--all go through the health council and they will decide what needs to be done. When Ester and I approached the Minister of Health about a meeting regarding our project he said, “You need to understand that anything you do has to incorporate and respect the indigenous health care system.” I told him that’s exactly what we are doing and he said, “In that case, we can meet next week.” We will be meeting with him and later this month traveling as a group to meet with the top ministry of health guy in Guatemala City. Donato Camey, from the Ministry of Health (pictured in the slide show) told Ester and me that this is a really good time to be initiating this type of project because for the first time in a very long time the ministry of health is actually very open and we have a chance of success. We aren’t asking for their money, just their blessing and official recognition. I’m blown away that we have gotten this far. And it all started with two women who were called to help the midwives, support home birth and to save women’s lives. They simply said, “We want to start a school. How do we do it?” And from there, all the right people started showing up at the right time (like me) and adding their energy, ideas, connections, skills, and resources and now this project has a life of its own. This is what people working together for a higher purpose can look like.
Each of us has a calling, whether we are in touch with it or not and each of our callings are needed to shift humanity’s consciousness on this precious planet. All hands are needed on deck. You need not have resources as much as you think. You’d be surprised how providence moves to meet you and carry you when you commit yourself to your calling. Life is no longer about your petty concerns. Its about making your life mean something, and doing your part whatever that is, and inspiring others to do theirs, whatever that is. Your deepest longings are actually life longing for itself and life has a way of organizing itself around you when you decide to say “yes.”
I feel deeply called to save and revive midwifery and home birth as a sacred practice. Not just here in Guatemala but at home as well. This is not something I invented in my head. Its something that is coming through me and I cannot suppress it. Every time I witness the power of birth the commitment to that calling is deepened.
Everything you do matters. What matters in not what you do or how big it is but that you do what your heart most deeply desires- and that you do it with full faith and all the love you can summon up from the depths of your soul.
If anyone wants to support the school or be involved somehow, please write to me and I will send you our proposal for starters.
We will need highly qualified people for our board, Spanish-speaking midwife teachers, and especially supportive, generous and enthusiastic donors who understand the value of home birth and indigenous life-ways, want to make a positive impact, and are willing to take a leap of faith with us on a new project. We are taking a leap of faith as well as we are walking into unchartered territory. If anyone knows of someone who might be an “Angel Donor,” someone who is willing to invest in the planning process--before we can officially open our doors--please let me know, or forward my blog to them.
Please post or send your comments. I love hearing from people.
This slideshow is about 60 MB and takes around 4 1/2 minutes. It's much better quality if you watch it in the small size.