by Kristi Macaulay
San Ignacio is a 3 hour drive from the closest hospital and for those who live in the surrounding towns the distance can be upwards of six hours. In 2012 Amanda Rizik, a former volunteer with Dar a Luz, visited the remote area of San Ignacio to explore for the first time the struggles, and the wisdom, of the local midwives. Traditional midwifes in Honduras, unlike other parts of the world, do not receive any formal training. Although they possess wisdom at working with their intuition, midwives in remotes areas like San Ignacio often lack the skill and knowledge to work with an emergency situation.
In January 2014 it seemed like the right time to finally address these issues. Silvia started to organize a seminar to provide the midwives in San Ignacio with essential training. Together with Rhonda Lee Grantham, a midwife with extensive international experience, they created a 5 day workshop. They would soon facilitate training with the full support of San Ignacio, which opened the Town Hall to hold the event. With the attendance of the regional head nurse, Belleza Andinio, the seminar began. Other participants included the local doctor, nurses and community workers.
Each midwife was given a medical supply kit that included a stethoscope, blood pressure cuffs, gloves and measuring tape. With these supplies, Rhonda taught basic and essential medical and emergency skills, such as prenatal care, delayed cord clamping, how to deal with postpartum hemorrhage, shoulder Dystocia and resuscitation procedures for babies and also comfort messures during labor.
Often midwives are poorly educated and are unable to count, so monitoring heart beats is a challenge. To add to this, the conventional equipment that would help them is expensive. Rhonda introduced a solution for this from her experiences in Africa by giving heart beat monitoring beads to the participating midwives. With each beat of the heart the midwife moves a bead down the necklace. Once the minute is up, the color of the bead shows whether the heart rate is normal, too high or too low. Other valuable medical practices taught at the seminar included; role-play (practicing emergency procedures) and prenatal birth procedures. Several educational films were also shown to illustrate other important aspects of emergency care and midwifery in general. Silvia encouraged the women to share their own birth experiences while teaching them basic compassionate, empathetic, gentle birth and doula techniques. The role of the doula and gentle birth were not known or practiced in Honduras before the introduction of Dar a Luz Honduras. Silvia pioneered this work in the Honduran hospitals and it has had a tremendous and valuable impact.
Throughout the seminar, with the support of Rhonda and Silvia, the community healthcare nurses and midwives created a collaborative and safe learning environment for practicing the new learned skills.
An enormous amount of gratitude goes out to the organizers and participants involved in making this first seminar in San Ignacio a tremendous success.
Thank you to Rhonda for contributing your knowledge, spirit, time, open mind and heart to our project.
NOTE: There is currently a volunteer opportunity for an experienced Spanish speaking midwife