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Delivery girl

11 November 2009

A lot of people, myself included, had our first job as teenagers making deliveries.  Bertha Martinez Sebastian is one of them… but her deliveries are a little more complicated than the morning newspaper:

(Ricardo Ibara, EFE, via Latin American Herald Tribune [Caracas])

Bertha Martinez Sebastian, 16, combines going to school with her work as a traditional midwife in an isolated village in the southeastern Mexican state of Oaxaca, where she has assisted at more than 40 births.

A Mixe Indian, Bertha Martinez told Efe in an interview that her career as a midwife began at the age of 14 in her native town of Santa Maria Alotepec, which is four hours by road from the nearest public hospital.

… [S]he acquired the necessary skills through organizations that promote natural methods such as Nueve Lunas, which has a training program for midwives called “Luna Llena” (Full Moon).

Bertha is a member of Mexico’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights Network, and since becoming a midwife has also attended international conferences and training courses in the neighboring states of Morelos and Chiapas.

Bertha combines her work as a midwife with high school studies and plans to continue until she becomes a professional doctor, though her immediate goal is to study natural medicine and the complete functions of the human body.

Up to now, one of her priorities has been to use and promote medicinal plants as a means of healing the sick.

“I like to say that it’s always better with medicinal plants because they don’t contain all those chemical compounds, they’re something natural that our ancestors knew about and they’re an inheritance we ought to make use of,” she said.

Bertha’s house is also her office. There she gives advice and administers treatments to those who come because they are pregnant or for some ailment.

She also makes house calls for her patients, since a pregnant woman in an Indian settlement prefers to give birth at home surrounded by her family.

I wonder if she also does baby-sitting?  Probably not on school nights.

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