Enter Search Term:


The Gift of Safe Motherhood: transforming and saving lives in Guatemala

by Michelle Hoctor

Small hands grab the breezy pink curtain which hangs over the low entrance door to the house of 57 year-old-Mayan midwife Vicenta Cac Jimenez.  Curious eyes are eager to see what’s going on.  

Vicenta helps bring life in to the world and the small children in her village, many of whom she delivered, want to know what is happening and whether there will be any new arrivals today. 

Vicenta has worked successfully for 27 years as a midwife in this remote village of 150 families in what is known as the La Bendición community near Pochuta up in the Guatemalan highlands.   She has delivered in the region of 900 children over all those years giving, as she says, her “time and knowledge for free”. 

Although a midwife for many years, it was not until Vicenta received a Trócaire Gift of Safe Motherhood that she received formal training. This gift, generously funded by the Irish public, has transformed Vicenta’s way of working, saving lives along the way.

This training and equipment has had a dramatic effect, reducing the number of deaths during childbirth in Pochuta from 25 each year to zero. 

Watch Lorraine Keane’s special report on the Gift of Safe Motherhood in Guatemala

With this practical gift, Vicenta can now read a baby’s heartbeat before they are born and weigh them with a small scales. She has a wide basin for water, packets of sterilised gloves and a pair of scissors. These scissors mean she can more hygienically cut the umbilical cord. Although it sounds like an exaggeration a machete has been used in the past.

“Before Trócaire helped I worked with my bare hands,” she says. “I could never have bought this equipment. I want to say thanks to the people that help.”  

In the evening the house becomes Vicenta’s home again.   In the morning Vicenta will get up and extend her welcome once again to any young mother that comes to her door, eager to help and support her and her unborn child.

All in a day’s work.  

This year’s Gift of Safe Motherhood focuses on Somalia. To support essential training for midwives to safely deliver babies, as well as providing new mothers with a baby kit including a shawl, a bag, powder and soap visit the Trócaire Gift of Safe Motherhood page.

Donate Now