Compassionate Maternity Care

by Amy Nguyen 

Being able to work as a doula with Dar a Luz Honduras has been an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening experience. I have been working at one of the hospitals for the past three days and already have seen how modeling compassionate and respectful care has had a large impact on the maternity ward. As a doula here, this can be through holding hands, giving massages, verbal reassurance, or giving the mothers reminders or suggestions on how to manage the pain, which is especially helpful since no family members are allowed into the unit.  Much of the staff is supportive of the doulas and there are many student doctors here, who can be the ones to bring more compassionate care to all of Honduras.

Dar a Luz is currently producing a video to address human rights during childbirth, respectful maternity care, and obstetric violence. The contents have been approved by the Health Department of Honduras and the video will be distributed to hospitals and health education centers around the country to aid in providing consistency of care.


Amy, Silvia and Lic. Iris, thanks Amy!

As a doula in a foreign country, I have found that the advice Dar a Luz gives rings true: what is most important is to bring a compassionate and open heart.

– Amy, writing from Santa Lucía, Honduras

Hospital Atlantida Gets a Peanut Ball

by Angela Chromik

Dar a Luz recently introduced a Peanut Ball to the staff and birthing mothers at the Atlantida Hospital in La Ceiba. Nicknamed the “cacahuete” (which is peanut in spanish), the common birth tool brought curiosity and smiles to the staff. The peanut ball is especially helpful within the hospital at La Ceiba.

The peanut ball is regularly used when a woman has had an epidural or is too exhausted to move around. In Honduras epidurals are not available in public hospitals, but a peanut ball provides a great support when a woman is on bedrest during labor.

Continue reading

Rich Journeys

 by Cassandra West

pico-bonito-largeI arrived here in Honduras a week ago now and already am feeling rich and humbled from my experiences. Silvias warm and obvious passion instantly had me feeling welcome here and I have been very excited to begin getting involved. The plan for me is to start in La Ceiba, then to Santa Rosa and finally in the capital. As I am far from fluent in Spanish, Silvia has arranged for me to have excellent Spanish lessons at a very reasonable rate with a beautiful woman nearby. Other volunteers have also had this opportunity. This is helping me ground here. So too is walking and taking in the mountain clad landscape.

Most of my days so far have consisted of Spanish lessons and hospital visits. In the public hospital in La Ceiba I’ve been able to support laboring women in my Doula capacity. I was a little anxious about how things might be here, expecting that I might find it difficult not to be able to stretch far enough to be with all the women at the same time!

Cassandra WestIndeed, I can’t, but that is all the more reason to be here. It is so needed. There are great lessons, too, in trusting my intuition and sensing who most needs my support at any given time. After only a week I feel so happy to be here and to be able to reach out to women during a precious moment in their lives.

Providing emotional support is greatly needed here. The work of Dar a Luz is amazing and I can really feel that transformations are happening. Support, both physically and financially, is greatly needed to help the magic continue over here.

Presence is the key.

It’s a challenging environment to work in for many reasons. Silvia and the Dar a Luz volunteers seem to me angels in this place. I am grateful to be able to hold a woman’s hand as she moves through her pain, to offer massage and pressure point therapy, to introduce essential oils, eye contact, encouragement, warm socks and towels. Essentially, love.

This is just the beginning of my journey here and I know I have lots to learn and lots to offer. Thank-you Dar a Luz for providing such a gift to so many people.

Cassandra Rosa West  x

Gifts for Mothers and Nurses

Christmas Presents from Shawna

Silvia and Shawna with the gifts that Shawna brought for the nurses in one of the hospitals. Thanks again Shawna for all the wonderful support you gave to women in the hospitals.

In December 2014 we were able to deliver gifts of baby clothes to women in the maternity wards of the hospitals in Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, and Santa Rosa de Copan. It was especially nice this year to have gifts for the nurses as well!

Doula Workshop for Nurses

by Zoe Paterson

Just before Christmas this year we organized a doula workshop for Doula Training San Felipenurses of the maternity ward of San Felipe Hospital in the capital, Tegucigalpa. This doula workshop was specifically designed by Dar a Luz for nurses working in Honduran hospitals.

A huge thank you to our wonderful friend Anna who taught the class, and brought with her an enormous amount of much-needed medical equipment, and other supplies. Anna stayed for two weeks (over Christmas!) to support laboring women, and to support the nurses’ new skills. A peanut ball, birth ball, pelvis model and baby model have also been donated to the maternity ward.

The Honduran government often does not have the money to adequately pay nurses, let alone pay for labour support staff. In the public hospitals where Dar a Luz works, family members are not allowed to accompany women in labour into the ward, which makes it all the more important that nurses be given the opportunity to learn a supporting role.

Over the four days of the course Anna taught doula essentials that can be combined with regular nursing care to offer a more rounded medical and emotional experience to labouring women. She was able to teach massage for pain reduction, breathing techniques, positions for easier labour, ways to create trust and connection, and introduced and donated birth balls and peanut balls for the hospital’s use. The nurses were able to practice their new skills immediately with the women in labour at the hospital.

Education makes all the difference here in Honduras, and Sylvia is currently planning another trip to Tegucigalpa, this time for a more in-depth seminar for all the nurses of the maternity ward.

Delivering Shoes

by Suzanne Elkind  12/27/14

GummistiefelToday we took the ninety pairs of shoes I collected from the Cambridge Montessori School to different Honduran children.   The first kids were a single mother and her four kids.  The mother has a mental disability and is unable to work.  The neighbors say she is crazy but Catalina, the household helper of Sylvia describes her as “different”. The mayor gifted the land that she lives on.  Missionaries made the house.   She begs at the neighbors for food and her younger child is 1-month old.  According to Sylvia, now that she has four children she is eligible for a free tubal ligation.  We were able to find shoes for all three of her kids.  They were all so delighted to have new shoes.  Some neighborhood children also appeared and we found shoes for them as well.  The older neighbor even found a pair of kids rain boots that fit.  She was beaming as she works in the fields and has only flip-flops.

schuhe2Our next stop was the poor suburb of La Ceiba, Buffalo.  One of Sylvia’s friends brought us 25 children in need for shoe fitting.  We found shoes for all but 5 of the children.  At this point, we had run out of the bigger sizes and the look of disappointment on these girls faces was heart wrenching.  I just went to the grocery store and bought some croc like shoes in a bigger size hoping to find something for one girl in particular.  Her shoes were much too small on her feet and she had the saddest expression on her face.

We then went to another suburb and tried to find shoes for another twenty kids.  We started with ten children but very quickly word spread and all the neighborhood kids arrived.   Continue reading

La Moskitia- Rural Birth Work

by Griet Vandamme

DSCN1184My name is Griet, a midwife from Belgium who spent 7 weeks working for Dar a Luz in Honduras.

I contacted Silvia whilst volunteering in another project in Guatemala. Within a month everything was arranged and I stepped out of the bus in La Ceiba, my first stop.

I am very grateful to Silvia for making it possible to do a lot of different things for Dar A Luz. I worked in a public city hospital as a doula in La Ceiba, I worked in the small mountain village Yarucca training local midwives. I also spent some time in a maternal-infant clinic and healthcare centre close to Copan Ruinás giving information to pregnant girls and women. In between I was able to explore the beautiful Honduras a little more.

But for me the most impressive experience was working and staying for two weeks in La Moskitia, Honduras’ tropical rainforest that also covers a part of Nicaragua. The Miskitos own this beautiful part of Honduras and with their own language Miskito and their cultural habits they try to make the best of their lives. There is no access to basic needs like electricity and running water. This part of Honduras can only be reached by taking a boatride after a long and adventurous ride in a jeep.

The village of Ibans has a centro de salud which became my home for 2 weeks. The centro de salud was located in the centre of the village and perfect for me as a starting point to be able to visit local midwives, pregnant women and new mothers with their babies. Continue reading

Shoes for Christmas!

Thanks to one of our volunteers, Suzanne, 75 pairs shoes for children got donated.

That means that 75 children in need  will soon recieve shoes!

Thanks Suazanne and to all the people involved to make this happen!

shoes1 shoes2