May 16-22 2003
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IN THIS ISSUE
Helping women worldwide
Bond, Morse, Terry win 2003 Sullivan Awards
Advocate for diversity leads by example
Finals factoids
Music major creates programs for local schools

Tragedy spurs Muslim student’s effort to bring understanding

Finding history among the trees
Community through architecture
Moving toward a more inclusive environment
Jobe leads with faith, activism
Exploring vast worlds with Harrison Awards
Harvey blends work, study with passion for civic participation
Designing women sow success
Merging technology, music and art
From one-room school to athletic field
Persistence pays for Ukrainian student
Swimmer sets her eyes on Olympic event
Firefighting ideal job for Jefferson Scholar
Pruett’s ready to deploy, but not to leave her kids
Cancer survivor helps others
Helping women worldwide
Graduate Kate Neuhausen bathes a newborn she delivered as a midwife’s apprentice last year in Ecuador.
Photo by Gladys Clemente
Graduate Kate Neuhausen bathes a newborn she delivered as a midwife’s apprentice last year in Ecuador.

By Anne Bromley

While a third-year student, Kate Neuhausen helped a midwife in Ecuador bring babies into the world.

Neuhausen was surprised when Gladys Clemente, to whom she was apprenticed, said she could “catch” the babies. And she was amazed that several women in the South American village where she stayed for a month subsequently embraced her as kin, godmother to their children.

After she returned to U.Va. for her final year, Neuhausen worked with the local Spanish-speaking immigrant community as a health educator, part of the Rural Health Outreach Program, a community organization in Nelson County. She also helped create and teach peer-training programs in basic health care, domestic violence and HIV education. At U.Va., she organized a women’s health festival on Grounds in February, as well as the Women’s Center’s speaker series this year on the broader topic of women in the international arena.

The Church of Our Lady of the Pillar of Santa Cruz is the largest building in the Ecuadorean village of Libertador Bolivar, where Neuhausen apprenticed to a local midwife.
The Church of Our Lady of the Pillar of Santa Cruz is the largest building in the Ecuadorean village of Libertador Bolivar, where Neuhausen apprenticed to a local midwife. After a baptism ceremony for about 20 babies, people celebrated their town’s anniversary with this colorful procession through the streets.

Now Neuhausen, an Echols Scholar, will receive a bachelor of arts degree in her self-designed major, international women’s health. And she’s gained something more from five semesters of having various roles at the Women’s Center: “the confidence to become whom I dreamed of becoming.”

“I want to be a family practitioner in immigrant-refugee health. Ecuador transformed how I look at the world, particularly the U.S. and its relations with Latin America,” she said. “There’s a high percentage of Spanish-speaking immigrants, many undocumented. This segment of the population often doesn’t get appropriate medical treatment. They’re invisible.”

Neuhausen’s semester in Ecuador was sponsored through the School for International Training, which specializes in hands-on, experiential programs in developing countries. She first completed an intensive language study session in the capital city of Quito. From there, she traveled to the small town of Libertador Bolivar on the coast, where she became part of a strong net of loving relationships, woven of the bonds between midwife and mothers, a bond that is being unwittingly jeopardized by some modern-minded physicians.

The beach near the Ecuadorean village of Libertador Bolivar serves as a focal point for social life, drawing people around sunset every evening to stroll along the shore, play soccer in the sand or cool off in the water.
The beach near the Ecuadorean village of Libertador Bolivar serves as a focal point for social life, drawing people around sunset every evening to stroll along the shore, play soccer in the sand or cool off in the water. Neuhausen relaxes with some children from the village.

In traditional culture there, when a baby is being born, whoever cuts the umbilical cord is considered family, even if not otherwise related. Neuhausen said the doctors don’t seem to recognize this.

They are also encouraging women to go to a hospital to give birth, but Clemente is working hard to dispel their misconception of midwives’ care as unclean. She uses latex gloves and sterilized instruments; her practice is actually better equipped and cleaner than some hospitals, Neuhausen said. Another consideration is that the closest hospital to the town is an hour away.

“I still love science, but I’ve learned other ways of looking at and experiencing the world,” she said.

She’ll keep that perspective with her when she goes to medical school, but first will take a year off to gain more experience. She won a U.Va. Center for Global Health Scholar Award to go to Limpopo, South Africa, this summer. Then she’ll return to Latin America, working in programs in Guatemala and in a different part of Ecuador.

She also plans to visit Clemente and her families in Libertador Bolivar.

“I have to go back,” she said.

Graduate Kate Neuhausen shows off a mural behind the U.Va. Women’s Center.
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Graduate Kate Neuhausen shows off a mural behind the U.Va. Women’s Center. It was designed and painted by first-year student members of SERVE, a community service program, to recognize the Women’s Center’s Young Women Leaders Program, in which Neuhausen participated as a big sister during her second year at U.Va.

 


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