July 22, 2014 Leave a Comment
* Click the pics for a close up view of all the wonderful details in these pieces.
Bolivians have a strong sense of their cultural heritage dating back to the time of the Mayans and the Incas up through the tragedies of the Conquistadors and the colonization of the primitive missionaries and the more recent revolutionary efforts of Simon Bolivar and Che Guevara. Much effort is made to remember important dates, traditions, dances, food, dress, and of course the many heroic women and men who forged the nation we now know. I appreciate these cultural events and the way all generations get involved in the celebrations.
As we can see displayed in bright colors sprayed on the walls even the artists of the street are proud of their heritage. I applaud the usage of symbols, shapes, and styles to help us remember our roots.
A special thanks to Guillermo Deheza, once again, for finding and photographing some of these images. Find more of his stuff from around Cochabamba on facebook.
The llama picture has been brought to my attention more than once by various people… but I haven’t ever photographed it myself. It’s fun when people send me photos of cool graffiti they find around town. I am very grateful.
My amateur dabbling in the curator world can be accessed through this link: Cochabamba Street Art at ‘The @’.
July 21, 2014 Leave a Comment
*Click pics for enlarged view*
This installation includes fresh, new graffiti found around Cochabamba as well as photos I took over a year ago. Some of these photos were taken by Guillermo Deheza, a fellow Cochabamba dweller who likes graffiti art.
The variety of impressions about women represented in these pieces span all time, past, present, and future. Some repeating themes we see are: braids, hummingbirds, symbols, nature, nurture, protection, and colors of passion. Do you have a favorite?
>> Guillermo Deheza’s collection of hundreds of photos of Cochabamba graffiti on facebook
>> Past posts with dozens of pics of Cochabamba Street Art here at ‘the @’
June 26, 2014 Leave a Comment
Sounds like the set up for a great joke, right? It amused me to be the missionary in this scenario; so to that extent it is humorous. Aside from my own chuckle this is nothing more than a statement of fact:
A missionary, an astrologist, and a midwife walk into a yoga center.
My exploration of midwifery training began with a good ol’ Google search. Using as many phrases in Spanish and English I could think of I searched for schools and midwives in Bolivia. Then I extended my search to Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Conclusion: midwifery in Bolivia is 1) rare and 2) rural.
Two seasoned midwives in other countries have suggested that my next step in midwifery training be to find out what the legal requirements are to practice midwifery in Bolivia. As I understand the laws the government is still figuring out the best way to incorporate midwives and their ways.
The law requires the midwife to be registered with the “Ministry of Health and Sports, Vice-minister of traditional medicine and interculturality” branch of the government. Registration is obtained by the presentation of a formal letter from a certain government official in your town or city of residence on your behalf validating and vouching for your abilities as a practicing midwife in that region for the previous five years. Upon approval this registration allows you entrance into any hospital or clinic to perform your midwifery skills. This is the process required of all those who practice traditional medicine to grant them validity and clinical privileges, such as: herbalists, naturalists, spiritual guides, witch doctors, and midwives.
I know that “Western” practices are far from infallible. I also know there is much we have dismissed or forgotten from our ancient ancestors due to prejudices, industrialization, and commercialization. These errors are essentially throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Yet, I am still coming to accept where the government has chosen to slot midwives. I am not yet at peace with it.
Rural Bolivian Midwives
In the Bolivian countryside and the small towns, which make up the majority of the land in this nation, the midwives learn their skills from the generation before them. Their aptitude is identified as young as 11 years old. Usually the skills are inherited and instilled from an elder in the family. It’s a beautiful thing to think how natural and communal it is to give birth in the villages. It is also a frightening reality that many of the practices are based solely on tradition rather than science. The rustic rural areas are located far from additional support services of modern medical facilities.
To put myself under the tutelage of a traditional Bolivian midwife in a small village would give me loads of experience with laboring women in-the-flesh. But I don’t think it could provide the level of training that I seek to obtain. I respect those midwives and I see their role as vital for this nation. I just don’t feel like that is the path I am supposed to take to receive my training.
The full list of those officially registered in Bolivia can be found online. I scoured the names and categories to find the ones registered in the department (state) of Cochabamba. There were 22 (out of a population of 1,900,000+). I did a Facebook search for each of their names. I didn’t find any on facebook. Most likely they are all in the small villages of our department.
Urban Bolivian Midwife
Through Facebook, though, I did find one “partera” (midwife) in Cochabamba. I wrote a little message to her introducing myself and explaining I would like to meet her to discuss the training options that exist for a person like me here in Cochabamba. I also googled her name and found a few articles by and about her. I was able to ascertain from a YouTube video that she became uneasy and unsatisfied with the entitled, prejudiced, and rude treatment of the doctors towards the women she began to seek out a different way. Her journey led her to become a midwife.
She responded to my message with kindness and suggested a time we meet. At first we were going to sit in a plaza and talk. The day of the meeting she texted me to say that a friend of hers had graciously offered the space of her yoga center for us to meet. I was so excited.
I found the place and remembered seeing signs out front that they specialize in prenatal yoga. The place was every bit what you would expect. Low lights, soothing decor, and incense lingering in the air. The yoga instructor ushered me in to Vivi, the midwife. Vivi is lively yet calm with a sweet countenance of peace and acceptance. She has a soft voice that resonates confidence. Her long hair, beaded jewelry, and flowing flowery garb reminded me of pictures I had seen of my parents’ hippie days. I loved her right away.
We sat at the small table in the kitchenette and drank herbal tea sweetened with natural honey. She shared her story. I shared mine. Then I asked about the education possibilities. She spoke of her dreams of a state of the art birthing center with a training arm here in the city of Cochabamba. Then she spoke of the challenges of money, initiative, and legality. I understood. She encouraged me to continue on this path and urged me to seek out the training in any way I could.
As we rose to leave we encountered one of her friends in the entry way. She introduced me to the astrologist and explained how they work together. Vivi has a few women who are expecting babies in the coming months. She does their prenatal care and then attends their births.
I was disappointed to know that training to be a midwife would have to come from abroad. I was surprised, too. I thought there would be a more midwives because of the practicality of the role in a society like this one. I feel sorry that the expectant mothers in the urban areas do not have the option of the services of a midwife. It just makes sense to simplify and reduce the high number of unnecessary cesarean sections with a midwifery program. The great divide created by classism is shocking and quite abhorrent. Bolivia could benefit greatly from more midwives.
Now I have to look beyond Bolivian borders for a school. That search has begun.
June 25, 2014 10 Comments
When? Where? How? So many questions at this point. I am not without options. I just know I am facing a few challenges. Age – Just turned 38. I know we never stop learning. I feel like my body and brain are up for this. I do feel also some urgency to make this happen […]
June 24, 2014 6 Comments
Making close friends is a necessity for survival when you are far from blood relatives. The Holman family has a few kids the same ages as a few of our kids. Mrs. Holman and Mrs. Washington have formed an especially tight bond. Yes, I just referred to myself in the 3rd person. According to Mr. […]
June 23, 2014 Leave a Comment
The induction was scheduled. Romon and Melinda graciously agreed to allow me to be present for the labor and delivery. I consider this one of the highest honors I have had in my entire life, alongside the honor of birthing our own five children. The labor pains began slowly then progressively strengthened throughout the day. […]
June 19, 2014 3 Comments
By: Jill Houtz as a birthday gift to me today We took Lamaze classes to prepare for your birth. Driving home after the first class I was sober and thoughtful. Your dad on the other hand said, “This is gonna be a piece of cake!” I was glad he thought so. I told him, “Then […]