There are 317 registered comadronas (midwives) in my municipality in the departamento (state) of El Quiché. The Centro de Salud (health center) conducts bi-monthly trainings that the midwives are mandated to attend. Today, nearly all were in attendance in the town’s main meeting hall.
Before any of the training or logistical information was shared, we began with a Mayan-Catholic ceremony. A Mayan elder created the circle with other elders, then those of us in the circle lit the candles. Once the fire (or candles) are lit, the Mayan elder typically begins the ceremony. But in this case, a young priest was present to offer prayers. There is a curious integration of Mayan and Catholic practices and I can’t tell what is what, even though I was raised Catholic.
Let’s just say that everyone knows the sign of the cross and kneels at appropriate times. But there were women who lit their candles in a way that was indicative of indigenous ceremony.
After the ceremony, Sebastiana (woman below with the mic) led the training. She introduced the new health center staff (there were at least ten present). The new staff members will each be assigned to staff a health center outpost. And the midwives will be assigned to communicate with whichever staff member is at her nearest health center outpost.
Due to the ceremony and the logistics, there was only time for about an hour and a half of training which included a film and a demo by one of the comadronas (below).
It takes a long time to do attendance. Each comadrona must show her I.D. to a staff member and give her signature or finger print.
I used my time to meet comadronas who might be willing to be interviewed by me. Juliana (below) has been a midwife for over twenty years. She speaks both K’iche and Spanish so we were able to have a nice conversation. I hope to interview her for this blog in the coming weeks.
It’s Friday as I write this and now I must attend to creating a charla (talk) for next week. Be well. ❤️