World

Sergio Castro – Medicine Man of Chiapas

Sergio Castro – Medicine Man of Chiapas

Today Petrona doesn’t smile. The smile that overwhelms in the face of adversity, that endears hope and devours pain, is missing. We all feel it.  Today her pain transcends time. Sergio’s treatment seems futile; the pain is drawing Petrona back to the moment in the fire, when the insufferable pain she couldn’t feel then, and her life of pain in the subsequent months, was beginning to engulf her. Sergio, however, is unfazed. “When I come next time, there will be a very great surprise for you!” he says in Tzotzil, Petrona’s Mayan dialect. He translates his words into French and then English to engage hope in not only Petrona, but all those in the room who come from abroad to volunteer their help.  Petrona is a fourteen-year-old Mayan girl who lives […]

by · July 22, 2014 · Health, Medicine, Profile, Science, Travel, World
Remote Birth

Remote Birth

Marcellina is one of hundreds of Timor Leste’s traditional midwives. Every day, she walks between ten to fifteen kilometres assisting expecting and young mothers with antenatal and neonatal care in and around the remote mountainous village of Asulau. Her time-honoured techniques have been passed down through generations. In recent years, she has incorporated contemporary practices learnt through the Dili based Bairo Pite Clinic and Japanese NGO, Frontline. On 2 July 2011, Marcellina was called to assist Eliza Soares, 25, give birth to her fifth daughter. The birthing process was far from smooth. A breech birth three hours from the capital meant that both the young mother and baby were at serious risk to the small South East Asian countries exceptionally high infant and maternal mortality rate.   Using contemporary medical […]

by · June 16, 2014 · Health, World
Nguyen Thi Van Long. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

The Village of Friendship

‘The United States government has pledged $43 million between 2012 and 2016 to clean up the mess caused by the spraying of over 60 million litres of Agent Orange, between 1962 and 1971 as part of Operation Ranch-hand. Some would say; too little, too late. In 1988 one veteran began his own journey of recompense and initiated what is now known in Vietnam as The Friendship Village.’ For many of us Gen X’ers reared on a diet of television and Hollywood, our enduring vision of the war in Vietnam is one of low flying choppers rising into the horizon, leaving a trail of fiery destruction, to a Doors or Wagner soundtrack. ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning…’ proclaimed Lt Colonel Kilgore in 1979s Apocalypse Now. ‘Smells like…victory’. […]

by · March 26, 2014 · World
Photograph by Chris Hopkins

The Battle of the Hmong

The trail from Sapa, in North Vietnam’s Hoang Lien Son Mountains, to the small village of Lao Chai is well worn. Most of the 550,000 international visitors to the area in early 2013 would have donned a raincoat; followed their guide, probably provided by their hotel and sourced from the local village, down the long, steep road, through the throngs of Hmong women aggressively hawking their wares, arrived at the rural village swamped by rice fields, and ironically thought to themselves: ‘its nice to get off the tourist trail.’ As I followed my guide Xu, who was provided by the hotel and sourced from the local village, down the long, steep road, two Hmong women from the said throng decided I was worth following. Mai is seventeen and has a […]

by · March 26, 2014 · World