- Organization Name:ACAM, Asociacion de las Comadronas del Area Mam
- Address:124 Boston Ave., Apt. 2
Somerville, MA 02144
ACAM is a Midwifery Project and Birth Center in Concepción Chiquirichapa, Guatemala. ACAM works to promote maternal health, women’s rights, and cultural preservation by providing an indigenous model of health care and training in a non-discriminatory atmosphere. ACAM seeks to increase the capacity of local Mam-speaking midwives in skilled birth attendance to allow indigenous women the opportunity to realize their human rights and preserve their language and culture. Currently, ACAM is realizing these goals though the maternity center that provides prenatal care, skilled birth attendance, natural medicines, and pharmacy; training courses instructed in Mam for young Maya-Mam women to learn the trade of midwifery; and a meeting space for the midwives as well as other community organizations.
The ACAM Midwifery Project began because local midwives were dissatisfied with training programs that repeatedly covered the same material but did not address the issues that were preventing the midwives from applying their knowledge. The midwives were attending over 90% of the births in their areas and were consequently blamed for poor outcomes, which their training programs provided no means to prevent. Lacking the most basic equipment for doing their work and having no access to medicines other than their traditional plant remedies, the situation was growing worse by the day. Many of their clients refused to go to the hospital due to lack of money, lack of hospital personnel who spoke their Maya language, lack of transportation, reluctance to have a male provider, and fear of care that they perceived as disrespectful. If a woman did go to the hospital the midwife was not permitted to stay with her or participate in her care in any way. This left the woman without support or means to communicate, and interrupted continuity of care when she returned to the community. Moreover, the older midwives noticed that fewer young women were choosing to become midwives. The forty midwives in the two towns ranged in age from 35 to 85 with the majority being over the age of 55. Who would care for women throughout their pregnancy and birth when they were gone? Recognizing these factors, they began to identify the barriers to midwifery care and recruitment in their community and to seek solutions.
The seven midwives who founded ACAM were quickly joined by thirty-three others and formed the base group. They forged relationships with North American midwives and other supporters through the assistance of Maria Teresa Lopez, and her husband, Felipe Ixcot, two members of their community who had fled the country during the civil war. The initial midwifery project was a simple request for birth kits but quickly evolved into a more comprehensive vision for midwifery care in their communities. This led to a major fund raising effort in the United States led by Teresa. In 2004, the ACAM Center was completed and includes a small clinic, three birth rooms, large community and educational space, an apartment for visiting midwives and physicians, a medicinal plant garden, a traditional Maya sweat lodge and space for a future laboratory, pharmacy, and dental room. This Center is owned and operated by the Maya midwives and Maya leaders, and the Midwives’ Council approves all project decisions. The North American advisory board provides aggressive fund raising efforts in order to support operational expenses and provides technical advice and support. To date, all financial support has been from private individual donations and a few private family foundations.
With modest donations, much has already been accomplished. The women of ACAM have defied the odds and demonstrated their capabilities, dedication, and willingness to fight in order to realize their rights to have stable, adequately compensated, and fulfilling work, while also working to ensure that the women they teach have the same opportunities. These women have demonstrated their commitment to and capabilities in running the center and are ready to expand the project.
- Year established:
- Organization type:Grantseeker
- Country of registration:United States
- Tax Determination Letter:Unknown
- IRS Section:501(c)(3)
Types of funding being sought (i.e. funding type)
- None specified
Program areas of focus and activity (i.e. funding cause)
- None specified
Geographic areas of focus and activity (i.e. geographic area)
- None specified
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