The story behind the photo: Guyana

“Safe Practices”

I met this mother and father sitting casually in the waiting area of the Dorothy Bailey Health Centre in Georgetown after taking their children for a routine clinic visit. This father had a proud and confident smile on his face as he cordially related the satisfaction that he feels when he can fill in for his wife in bringing the children for clinic appointments. He smilingly admitted, “I have to support my wife because our children’s health is important.” The woman sitting nearby can’t restrain herself. She is so amused by this admission.

Photographer: Amanda Richards, Guyana

The story behind the photo: Guatemala

“Three Generations of Q’eqchi’es women celebrating life with breastfeeding”

Alta Verapaz. Department of Guatemala. The Q’eqchi’es are one of four groups that make up the Mayan people. As with other native groups of this land, the q’eqchi’es have been systematically discriminated against by the State. In a situation of extreme poverty, very far away from the benefits of development and facing threats of climate change, grandmother, mother and daughter – three generations of women – happily celebrate life with breastfeeding.

Photographer: Sergio Vinicio López, Guatemala


The story behind the photo: El Salvador

“Waiting Healthily”

San Salvador, 2009. The arrival of your first child is nerve-wracking, full of fear, dreams and above all, hope that all will go well. Nothing is ready, you don’t know if you will be able to care for the child or not, you don’t know if you’re preparing well; however, the overwhelming feeling of happiness from the pregnancy exceeds any fear. When Karen learned that she was finally expecting her first child, she decided she wanted to document every moment of the pregnancy. Above all, she wanted to convey the love that she and her husband felt while waiting for little Mariana. They wanted to show their daughter that no matter how much they had to prepare, there was nothing that their protection and love could not overcome.

Photographer: Libby Renée Espinoza Aguilar, El Salvador

The story behind the photo: Ecuador

“Health for life”

Although they are brothers, the right to breast feed was the youngest’s. But the lesson that the mother offered in the few minutes the sharing lasted was beautiful. The youngest decided that afternoon to take advantage of his mother’s break to drink a little milk; his brother, who is slightly older, decided to have a little milk as well and took the other breast. In Cuenca, Ecuador, street begging is a recurrent issue intended to be invisible. It has been difficult to portray this in a positive, different, and constructive perspective that shows the feelings and implicit dignity of acts such as feeding a child with great generosity, on a public street.

Photographer: Vicente Tello Tapia, Ecuador

The story behind the photo: Dominican Republic

“Home visit to pregnant woman by Maternal-Child Pastoral in the Guachupita neighborhood”

Martha Maria travels the narrow alleys of Guachupita, a vulnerable neighborhood in Santo Domingo, to counsel young pregnant women on how to have a safe pregnancy.

Years back, she was invited to participate in a group that met to share information about maternal care. Motivated, she decided to become a community advisor. With her visit, Yrkania Santos, a 21-year-old single mother, is managing her second pregnancy in a new manner; she has learned to stay healthy, a very different experience from her first pregnancy.

Photographer: Juan Carlos Fernández García, Dominican Republic

The story behind the photo: Costa Rica

“Breastfeeding, a gift of love”

The entire world has gone through several economic crises that not even all of its experts have been able to solve. Central America has millions of heart-rending stories related to malnutrition and yet a mother always has to face everything to come out ahead for her family, despite the crisis, despite the lack of support, despite deficiencies or all the world’s problems.

I took this photo in a village of Izabal, Guatemala, in 2008; a young mother with several children, breastfeeding her little one, while she told me how at times she does not even have tortillas to put on the table. Despite the lack of opportunities, education, budget and isolation, she gives to her son the best of herself: her love, her care, and the fruit of the love from her breast.

Photographer: Kattia Patricia Vargas Araya, Costa Rica

The story behind the photo: Colombia


The principal character in the photo is Mariana Guasiruma, midwife and teacher in the art of midwifery for the village of Embera Chami, whose population includes 5,300 displaced indigenous people. To get to the closest district with health services and drivable roads it is necessary to walk more than 16 hours along paths with large cliffs.

The photo was taken during a safe motherhood intervention conducted by the Pan American Health Organization. The intervention emphasizes interculturalism and training of illiterate women using community techniques with simple adaptations to fit various customs and traditions, as well as the coordination for timely referrals to nearby health centers that use Western methods.

Photographer: María Cristina Lesmes, Colombia

The story behind the photo: Chile

“Safe pain management”

This photo illustrates the philosophy of comprehensive care during birth, which is both high in quality and safe. At this moment, the mother is having hydrotherapy in the birthing room, where harmony between fetal monitoring and maternal well-being is sought. In these innovative rooms, the pregnant woman can remain with her family from the moment she arrives until she leaves with her baby.

Additionally, it is hoped that the experience of bringing a child into the world should be as noninvasive as possible, with labor following its natural course to the extent that it can, and always with the safety of the mother and child protected with modern technology.

Photographer: Aixa Contreras, Chile

The story behind the photo: Brazil

“First look”

In order to set an example for safe motherhood in the region, the North Zone of Natal/RN Maternity Ward has 16 hospital beds (pre-birth/birth/post-birth) that meet the requirements of “humanized” birth that encourages natural birth to women with low-risk pregnancies. One of the best examples of this type of care was 23-year-old Maira de Oliveira, overcome with emotion as she receives little Emily – who was born in a humanized birth in the afore mentioned maternity ward – in her arms and sees her for the first time.

Photographer: Radilson Carlos Gomes, Brazil

The story behind the photo: Bolivia

“Community mobilization in the face of an emergency that puts maternal health at risk”

The organized community of Villanueva from the Bermejo municipality in Bolivia, responding to a health emergency, develops a Community Emergency Plan that requires walking for several hours along muddy roads, improvising stretchers and leaving their daily jobs behind, in order to evacuate a pregnant woman who’s having an emergency to the health center, because no other transportation can enter due to the lack of roads. This same community organizes and mobilizes itself in order to bring pregnant women, newborns, and other people who need medical attention to a health establishment. 

Photographer: Andrea Nakazone, Bolivia