Tender, Loving Care


Mercedes Muenala, 53, right, gently examines Miriam Alvarez, who is 34 weeks pregnant with her second child, during a routine visit to Miriam’s home near Otavalo, Ecuador.

Mercedes is one of 50 midwives who serve the rural communities surrounding Otavalo. She has been a midwife since age 18 and has known Miriam, 23, since Miriam was a girl.

Mercedes acts as a link between the two worlds of conventional and traditional healthcare. With World Vision’s support, Mercedes provides daily care through natural and traditional methods — she treats mom and baby with teas, creams, and soothing rubs she makes with plants from her garden — and provides guidance to both the mother and father as they step into parenting roles. It comes at little or no charge to the families.

To ensure young moms like Miriam get further care when they need it most, Mercedes also is linked into modern facilities and resources. And she is trained to provide basic emergency medical assistance if necessary.

More than anything, Mercedes says this is about saving mothers’ and babies’ lives .

“It’s about community, family, and my neighbors,” she says.

It’s also about investing in the next generation in the community. She says, “Because maybe when I’m an old lady, they will take care of me.”

Photo©2016 World Vision, Chris Huber

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