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Please send us + life-saving supplies to Guatemala for work with midwives who help women + babies survive childbirth + thrive against the odds.
UC San Francisco
San Francisco, California
United States
9 Team Members
Midwives for Comadronas is a sponsored project of The University of California, San Francisco.

A big THANK YOU to all contributors for your generous support of the Midwives for Comadronas campaign!

If you would still like to make a contribution to support UCSF's nurse-midwives and students, please click here today and choose the Nurse- Midwifery Program from the drop down menu ("choose a designation").


Project Overview

Traditional midwives and families in southwest Guatemala need your help. In their communities nearly nine out of ten people live on less than $2 a day. Just one in three Guatemalan women have a skilled attendant in childbirth, and the risk of dying during pregnancy is nearly 34 times higher than in the United States. Despite these significant challenges, traditional Guatemalan midwives (comadronas) are committed to providing safe care for women and babies.

Your donations will help save a long-term nurse-midwifery service-learning project that is threatened due to faculty retirements, the economic recession and decreased funding for public education. With your help, UCSF professor Jenna Shaw-Battista, RN, PhD, NP, CNM and students will continue an effective maternity care program in vulnerable Mayan communties, and partner with local traditional midwives to transform the service-learning project into a new collaborative educational program called Midwives for Comadronas. 


With your support, Midwives for Comadronas and UCSF will send Professor Shaw-Battista to accompany 8 UCSF nurse-midwife/ nurse-practitioner students to Guatemala in March 2013. During this trip, students from the U.S. and Guatemala, UCSF faculty, local midwives, health promoters and interpreters will work together to provide women’s health and childbirth care, as well as continuing education for midwives and other health care providers. The team will also donate basic medical supplies and lifesaving medications received by our supporters or purchased with your financial aid (supplies are distributed to families, midwives, a hospital and a birth center).

Your funds will also support new activities with the establishment of Midwives for Comadronas, including a planning trip by Professor Shaw-Battista prior to the March 2013 trip with students. During this pre-trip she will work with Guatemalan midwives to plan educational sessions and collaborative clinical care, as well as recruit local students for participation in the project for the first time. Your generous donations will also enable Professor Shaw-Battista to assist the comadronas with purchases of furniture and bedding during the pre-trip so that they can host visiting U.S. students in March 2013. This home-stay cultural immersion experience has been requested by past U.S. students and comadronas alike; with your help Midwives for Comadronas will make it happen! 


UCSF + Professor Shaw-Battista

Jenna Shaw-Battista is passionate about women’s health care in Guatemala and has been visiting the country and learning from traditional midwives since the 1990’s. She is currently the director of the UCSF/ San Francisco General Hospital Interdepartmental Nurse-Midwifery Education program and coordinates the certified nurse-midwife/ women’s health nurse practitioner specialty track at the UCSF School of Nursing. For more information about these educational programs and their graduates’ contributions to women’s health in the U.S. and globally, please click here. For information about the related nurse-midwifery faculty clinical practice at San Francisco General Hospital, please click here or visit us on Facebook.


What We Need & What You Get

Your financial donation to Midwives for Comadronas will support women, babies and families in the San Lucas Toliman area, as well as traditional Guatemalan midwives, UCSF nurse-midwifery faculty, and students in both Guatemala and the U.S.! Project expenses are numbered in the next section (below). Any size donation can help, and as little as $5 can save the life of a child with diarrheal illness.

Donations received above and beyond our goal will be used to establish a fund for families who cannot afford transportation to the nearest public hospital in the event of a serious complication during pregnancy or childbirth. In most cases this would be less than $20 for a mother and/or child and an accompanying family member. We have cared for many families that have experienced the needless death of an infant or pregnant family member- Please help us change this tragic situation right away!  



Project expenses include but are not limited to:

  1. The cost required for Professor Shaw-Battista to travel to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala ASAP. During this one week trip she will assess whether local midwives need home improvements, furniture, bedding or other items in order to house U.S. students during their service-learning trip in March 2013. She will also meet with local midwives to plan future educational sessions and recruit midwifery students to participate in March 2013 project activities. $5000 has been budgeted for this portion of the project, most of which will go directly to the local midwives.  
  2. Travel, lodging and meals for Professor Shaw-Battista and family; a family nurse-practitioner and former student participant in the project; and approximately 8 current UCSF students for a 2 week trip to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala in March 2013.
    • Airfare: ~$700 per person.
    • Room + board in San Lucas Toliman: ~$35/day per person.
    • In-country transportation: $200-$400 for the group; includes airport shuttle from Antigua but does not include transportation related to clinical care in rural areas which is provided by the San Lucas Toliman parish.
    • Travel to Ciudad Vieja where the group will visit Manos Abiertas, a midwife-run birth center and a new school for professional midwifery that is the first to obtain government approval for this purpose. This overnight trip is estimated to cost $100 per person for lodging, meals and a donation of goods and supplies to the birth center which has received life-saving medications and other equipment through this project in the past.




Funding Goal

We are seeking $20,000 to establish the Midwives for Comadronas project and achieve the goals we have outlined above. After processing by Indiegogo and the UCSF School of Nursing, 90% of your donations will be depositied in a discretionary fund under Professor Shaw-Battista's control for the purposes outlined in this proposal.

We are confident that our budget estimations are accurate and that we will successfully achieve our goals because of our familiarity with the San Lucas Toliman area and our long-term partnerships with the parish and other community organizations, as well as the local midwives who serve the rural communities and families who will benefit.

Any funds raised above $20,000 will be used for two main things:

  1. The purchase of additional life-saving supplies, medications and equipment for local midwives to use with their patients.
  2. A fund will be created for families who are experiencing obstetric emergencies and cannot afford life-saving transportation and/or treatment in regional public hospitals (several hours away). The fund for families was suggested by both traditional midwives and public health workers in the San Lucas Toliman area who tirelessly try to save and improve the lives of mothers and newborns but who are limited in their efforts because of extreme poverty in the area.

If we do not reach our funding goal:

We will divide any funds received among members of the Indiegogo fundraising team according to their effort and financial need, with priority going to faculty and student travel to Guatemala in March 2013. If unable to reach our funding goal, we would depend entirely on donations of medical supplies and medications for use during the spring trip, and would have to eliminate the plan for Professor Shaw-Battista to visit San Lucas Toliman in advance of the students. This would prevent the establishment of a home-stay experience for U.S. students that would financially support local midwives. If we do not reach our funding goal we will have to limit the involvement of local midwives in patient care and educational sessions during our March 2013 visit, and it is very unlikely that we would be able to expand the project to include Guatemalan students this year. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!


Thanks to our supporters!

We are so grateful to our friends and family who have supported us through the years, and have repeatedly sent us off to San Lucas Toliman with donated medical supplies, organized knit-a-thons for newborns in need of hats and blankets, and so much more. In addition to our gratitude, this time we have perks and gifts for our supporters that vary by donation amount and include:

  • Thank you cards from U.S. students as well as Guatemalan students, midwives and families.
  • Photos, unframed or framed, from the March 2013 trip to San Lucas Toliman.
  • Textiles or handicrafts made by women in the San Lucas Toliman area.
  • Hand-carved wooden utensils made by a woodworking collective that provides training to orphaned youth and supports elders without family to help care for them.



Background + Future Plans

Midwives for Comadronas is a new project that will enable the continuation of a long-term service-learning program in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. Unfortunately UCSF’s participation in this incredible program is threatened by lack of funding, as is the larger service-learning program’s survival. Additionally, there have been faculty retirements and the recent passing of a beloved project champion in San Lucas Toliman, Father Greg Schaffer.

For the last 15 years U.S. nurse-midwifery and nursing education programs have partnered with San Lucas Toliman residents and health care providers to improve maternal-child health in the area. UCSF has been involved in the project for almost a decade and Professor Shaw-Battista has participated for the last 3 years. Since the project began, US. .teams of faculty and students have traveled to Guatemala several times a year. The program has provided hundreds of nursing and nurse-midwifery students, and other health care trainees from the U.S., the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive community services program developed by locals in collaboration with the San Lucas Toliman Catholic parish and regional health care programs.   

In the past, the main goals of the project have been to:

  • Provide a cultural and language immersion experience for students from the U.S., primarily nurse-midwife and other advance practice nursing students.
  • Help with local public health efforts to assess and improve the health of mothers and babies in the communities surrounding San Lucas Toliman.
  • Engage the U.S. students in clinical care and continuing education sessions with local health care providers.

With the establishment of Midwives for Comadronas, Professor Shaw-Battista aims to expand and re-focus UCSF’s participation in the longstanding service-learning program and continue established relationships, even if the parent program ends. The Midwives for Comadronas project was designed to continue prior service-learning activities and add others in order to more directly address the barriers to skilled maternity care in the San Lucas Toliman area. Two additional goals have been identified:

  • Assessment and continuing education for interested local midwives.         
  • Identification and training of interested local student midwives.




Supplies and Medications

An additional important project activity, the donation of much needed medical supplies, is related to all of the project aims. We will continue to bring supplies and medications for use and donation during service-learning trips. With crowd funding we will be able to purchase specific life-saving equipment and medicines requested by our Guatemalan partners rather than relying on donated supplies as we have done previously. In this way we hope to bring more of the essentials and have a greater impact.

Your support will also enable us to purchase and donate teaching-learning supplies like midwifery textbooks and patient education materials, as well as design training sessions in response to requests from our Guatemalan partners. For example, in March of 2013 we plan to teach suturing because local midwives have requested this training. Your donations will enable us to provide the necessary suture material, medications and surgical instruments for the class session, and to leave with the midwives for practice and eventual use among patients (predominately those with vaginal lacerations resulting from childbirth). 

Donations Needed for March 2013 Trip:

Medical supplies, medications, and teaching-learning materials are needed for the March 2013 trip. We can accept only the donations listed below, and will use donated money to purchase any items we were unable to collect (no expired medications please):

  • maternity/ women’s health care posters, health education materials (low/no literacy) and books for midwives (in Spanish)
  • prenatal vitamins, iron and folic acid supplements
  • oral and IV antibiotics
  • anti-hemorrhage medications: misoprostil + oxytocin
  • head lamps + batteries
  • rain ponchos
  • hand sanitizer
  • gloves: sterile + non-sterile (small + medium)
  • urine pregnancy tests
  • urinalysis test strips
  • topical treatment for vaginitis, e.g. Monistat, clindamycin cream, metronidazole gel
  • non-sterile + sterile suture materials for teaching session + use during perineal repairs
  • surgical instruments for suturing + gynecologic exams/procedures
  • equipment for tubal ligation + intrauterine procedures in clinic settings are sought for a community partner
  • oral rehydration salts
  • infant clothes: we can only accept long-sleeve + short-sleeve onesies, soft pants, long-sleeve pajamas with feet, + hats for preemies and in the 0-3 month size range only.
  • swaddling + receiving blankets for newborns
  • blood pressure cuffs
  • stethoscopes
  • hand-held dopplers

Thank you for your support!

Donations of supplies can be sent to:                                    

Jenna Shaw-Battista, CNM, PhD, University of California San Francisco, Department of Family Health Care Nursing, 2 Koret Way, Box 0606, San Francisco, CA 94143-0606



Other Ways You Can Help

Please check out the Indiegogo share tools and make some noise about our project! Even if you can’t spare a dime, you can help to support our project by spreading the word via social media.

If you are able to make a financial donation to Midwives for Comadronas, Thank you! If you are as excited as we are, please consider also donating to one of our partner projects:

  • UCSF School of Nursing (please select “Nursing: Midwifery Education” from the drop-down menu of choices about where to direct your donation).
  • Manos Abiertas (a Guatemalan birth center and new school for midwifery where we donate supplies and hope to build future educational partnerships).
  • San Lucas Toliman Catholic parish (the organization that has sponsored the  service-learning program for 15 years).
  • Juan-Ana Coffee (buy fair-trade coffee from a small farmers’ collective that is facilitated by the San Lucas Toliman parish and affiliated coffee growing and  processing projects).  


Thank you, Gracias + Maltiox!



Jenna Shaw-Battista and the UCSF students,

as well as the families, midwives and midwifery students

in the communities around San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala




Questions + Answers


What communities are served by the project?

The communities served by the project surround San Lucas Toliman on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Health care visits by project members are usually conducted in a private home or community meeting space that serves as a clinic although rarely staffed or stocked with medical supplies.


Communities may not be accessible by road, including this one which was devastated by a flood and mudslide after heavy rains and a hurricane:



Heading out for a day of prenatal care in the communities surrounding San Lucas Toliman: 



Picture from a rural clinic in the region around San Lucas Toliman served by the project: 


Some of the structures and health centers we utilize were constructed as emergency shelters after hurricanes, mud slides and other natural disasters that have plagued the region. Example:


Below: Picture of Birth Room No. 1 (of 2) in the San Lucas Toliman parish hospital which does not have the ability to perform induction of labor, cesarean section, hysterectomy or blood transfusion.


 Sala de Parto No. 1


What is the project philosophy?

Despite the project’s strong relationship with the San Lucas Toliman Catholic mission, Midwives for Comadronas is not affiliated with a particular religion or religious institution. Employees of the parish are integral to the program, as are other collaborators including local and regional public health department employees and local health care providers. In general, project participants are motivated in their work by a shared set of values and a philosophy congruent with the parish mission of subsidiary. Additional parish projects initiated and run by local residents include: a collective coffee growing, processing and selling endeavor, schools, emergency housing and planned housing developments after natural disasters, and redistribution of land in an effort to address systematic discrimination against indigenous communities in the area. For more information, refer to the Parish website: http://www.sanlucasmission.org/index.php


subsidiarity (noun)

1. (Christianity / Roman Catholic Church) a principle of social doctrine that all social bodies exist for the sake of the individual so that what individuals are able to do, society should not take over, and what small societies can do, larger societies should not take over.

2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the principle of devolving decisions to the lowest practical level.




Find This Campaign On
raised by 165 people in 24 days
69% funded
No time left
$20,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on January 15, 2013
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Select a Perk
  • $25USD
    International thank-you

    On-line international thank you card from a U.S. student nurse-midwife.

    29 claimed
  • $50USD
    Thank-you card, photo + story

    Thank you card from a U.S. student with a photo from the March 2013 trip and a story about a family served by the project.

    30 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $150USD
    Card, multiple photos + story

    Letter of thanks from a U.S. student or Guatemalan midwife with five photos from the March 2013 trip, along with a story about how your donation directly helped a family, student or midwife.

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $250USD
    Card + framed photo

    Thank you cards from U.S. and Guatemalan participants, a framed 4x6 photo from the March 2013 trip, and a story about how a student, midwife and/or family benefitted from your donation.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $500USD
    Card, framed photo + textile

    A handicraft or textile made by women in San Lucas Toliman will be sent to you with a framed 4x6 photo from the March 2013 trip, and a letter of thanks from U.S. and Guatemalan participants, along with a story about how your donation helped a family, midwife and/or student.

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $750USD
    Wooden utensil + everything!

    At this donation level you will receive everything listed above (including a card, story, framed photo and textile/handicraft) plus a hand-carved wooden utensil made by a collective in the community of San Lucas Toliman that supports homeless youth and elders without family to care for them.

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Personal meeting + everything!

    Lets have an informal conversation over coffee, and/or schedule a live presentation by project participants in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are looking forward to meeting our most generous donors, after sending them a thank you card, story, framed photo, textile/handicraft and hand-carved wooden utensil (see details above).

    2 claimed
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