ACAM Midwife Center in Guatemala: Thanks to the Contributions of Many
In August of 1999, the International Mayan League with its treasurer, Elena Ixcot, and the support of Judy Luce, a midwife and member of the Midwives Alliance of North America, initiated a project with midwives in our hometown of Concepcion Chiquirichapa, Guatemala.
The objective was to build a birth and midwifery education center to help mothers in the area, improve the education and status of the midwives, and provide the material resources the midwives need to service the healthcare needs of over 50,000 people in the area.
As part of the project last year we purchased a piece of land easily accessible in the town with water and electricity, on which to construct this center. With legal fees for incorporation of ACAM and the title for the land, this purchase amounted to $26,000. Thanks to the unconditional support of many good people in the United States, the work has advanced quickly and we are beginning construction of this center, a center that not only will serve to take care of the health needs of families in the community and be a place where women can give birth safely, but also will serve as a center of education for the young women who want to be midwives.
Workshops and programs of study will be held to teach the young midwives how to keep alive the cultural traditions related to the birth of a child. In our Mayan culture, when a boy or a girl is born, a ceremony is held in gratitude to Heart of the Sky and Heart of the Mother Earth. Through this ceremony the baby remains connected with the cosmos: the sun, the fire, the rain, the water, the air, the clouds and the Earth. In the thought of our grandfathers and grandmothers, it says that we human beings are only one small part of this great universe, and for that reason we must be thankful to the cosmos for our existence.
These beautiful traditions are in danger of disappearing, especially because of western religions and western medicine that often do not study nor value other cultures. They attack our spirituality that contains a message of life and protection for the environment like the fauna and the flora and call it witchcraft, the inheritance of the devil, or foolishness.
The young midwives will also be taught about Mayan medicine. We want to spread all types of natural medicine that our grandmothers have used in the community to protect the health of the women and children, because the natural medicine and the plants in addition to curing, contain vitamins, minerals and nutritious elements such as protein, calcium and iron. Many of the plants will be grown at the center. These are the dreams that we have in this work, which we are doing in Concepcion Chiquirichapa.
When we traveled to Guatemala early this year, we took donations of money that we received at Christmas from many of our sisters and brothers in solidarity with our work. There was $24,000. On March 21 we left Guatemala in time to arrive for March 22 when our friend, James Carbone of the Wellness Corporation in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts held an auction he had been planning for a year. It was a huge success and we succeeded in netting an additional $28,000 towards the cost of the center.
When we returned from our trip we found that other donations that totaled $5,000 had come in bringing the total raised to $57,000. Nevertheless this amount will not be sufficient for our two-level center. The first floor will have a clinic and birth rooms; the second will hold the offices, a meeting room for educational events and a small apartment to house visiting midwives or doctors who come to assist with the needs of the community. The cost of the construction could rise to $75,000. We are still waiting for the exact estimate. The amount already received from our supporters causes overflowing joy in our hearts. We are very thankful to all you sisters and brothers for your valuable donations to this cause because we see that we are very close to reaching the fulfillment of our dreams. We thank you, and we will keep this always in our hearts and the heart of our town of Conception Chiquirichapa.
In the next few months we need to raise an additional $15,000 for the construction of the center. Your kind, tax-deductible donation can be sent to: The Wellness Corporation, c/o James Carbone, 512 W. Main Street, Shrewsbury, MA 01545. 508-842-2780. Email: Jcarbone@wellnesscorp.com. In anticipation we send you our thanks for your generosity. We pray that the Creator blesses you.
Elena and Felipe Ixot
International Mayan League/USA