Just across the border, but a world away…
The state of Chihuahua is nicknamed with good reason “El Estado Grande”. With over 95,543 square feet it is the largest in all of Mexico. Most of the state is rural, with no paved roads, limited access to electricity or clean drinking water. The Copper Canyon where our program is based is 1,500 feet deeper and five times the area of the Grand Canyon. This difficult terrain creates dangerous conditions for any healthy person let alone a pregnant woman.
Though the Tarahumara, also called Raramuri, represent only 3% of the population they account for 38% of all maternal deaths. Currently placing the State of Chihuahua with the third highest maternal mortality rate in Mexico. Most Raramuri, live in small settlements at least three hours away from the nearest health post and a least a day away from the nearest facility equipped to handle deliveries. As a result, most deliveries happen at home without the presence of a skilled birth attendant (midwife, nurse or doctor). The Raramuri deep cultural and spiritual beliefs also prevent them from accessing care.
One Heart makes a lasting impact
We currently train community members, outreach workers, and health care providers in obstetrics and neonatal life-savings skills. We do so in a culturally appropriate manner to respect the Raramuri spiritual beliefs around childbirth. We believe that by working with local Tarahumara communities to raise awareness, and distributing Clean Birth Kits we can prevent childbirth-related deaths now and for future generations as well.
” A pregnant young woman was carried in by her husband; she was unconscious and had no pulse. Her husband told us that when they realized the baby was positioned sideways, they walked 6 hours to see a curandero (a traditional folk healer), who turned the baby in the womb. On the walk back home, his wife went into labor. The baby came out but the afterbirth didn’t. She kept bleeding so he wrapped her in a blanket and carried her here in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. The bridge was washed out and he had to wade through rushing water with his wife in his arms. With no light except for the headlamp you gave me, I started an IV and manually extracted the placenta. The next morning, when the ambulance finally was able to get here, we sent the young mother to the hospital in San Juanito. We’ve since heard that that she and her baby are back home and doing fine.”
—In-Country Coordinator Carlos Tapadera Konsheño (RN)