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ViewChange: The Mothers Index

Midwives in Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state, represent the front line in a nationwide battle to improve the lives of women. They are helping to reduce domestic violence and improve education, while also working hard to maintain a maternal mortality rate of close to zero.

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Produced by Matt Peters.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Nearly 60 women die for every 100,000 live births in Mexico.
TITLE
The UN Millennium Development Goals aim to reduce maternal deaths to 22 by 2015.
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In Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state, the maternal death toll exceeds 100.
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In this highland community, the rate is close to zero.
MANUELA LOPEZ LOPEZ [Midwife]
We're here in Carmen Zacatal. This is my hometown. Well, I work here. My name is Manuela Lopez Lopez. I work as a midwife.
WOMAN 1 [Midwife]
Here, we are nine midwives. Of the nine midwives, we each have our own patients. Right now, I have 12 patients.
WOMAN 2 [Midwife]
If there weren't midwives in every community, the majority of pregnant women would die, because there wouldn't be anyone to care for them, to see them, or to give them checkups.
WOMAN 3 [Anthropologist]
Midwives have an ancestral knowledge, from generation to generation. We saw in earlier studies that the highest rates of maternal mortality were in the northern zone of Chiapas, but we began to see that in the places where the midwives have been given training, the rate is going down. We think this is the result of midwives and health workers having better tools but also that there is a better understanding among the community and a stronger coordination with health institutions. The idea is that, when the community makes a joint effort, the women will not die.
WOMAN 2
We as midwives are organized, and we team up with a group of young men who work as volunteer health workers. We have a social network of health workers, midwives, and rural assistants. We all work together. We give talks to the local women. We tell them to defend themselves [from domestic abuse] and to not have more kids -- that, with two or three children, a small family lives better.
WOMAN 2
I am looking for the baby's head. We'll see if the baby is well and positioned normally. I am also adjusting the baby so that it moves, or better said, I am waking it up. It's fine.
WOMAN 4 [Mother]
This will be my last baby before I have an operation. What happened is that my first baby has a bad heart, so I have a lot of expenses.
WOMAN 1
We feel very alone, and we are a marginalized community. We don't have materials to work with. Our community has no ambulance or a car for the drive to the hospital. Sometimes, we can't save women in time, and it is our weakness. But together we can take a sick woman out. We also partner with neighbors and local authorities. We can do it, and we give each other a hand, and now, thanks to God, there is hardly any maternal mortality here.
WOMAN 2
Before, there was a lot of domestic abuse, but it is decreasing because of the talks and the workshops that we give, and that is what we're focusing on now. Now is not the time to be abused. Now is the time that we defend ourselves as women.
WOMAN 5 [Midwife]
We save lives. We save two lives.
TITLE
Midwives are the lifeline for impoverished women in these rural towns.
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They are the first line of defense against maternal mortality.
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A film by Captured Life Productions