OneMama Stories: An Inspiring “Mama” Changing Women’s Health

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Told by our own CSW UN Delegate, Gabriela Hofmeyer

“My mother was the clinic doctor in Pito Real, and the Tarahumara/Raramuri Sierras, one of the most dangerous and rough geographies in Northern Mexico.”

-Gabriela Hofmeyer, a OneMama U.N Delegate talks with me over a zoom call late last month.

Siobhan Neilland, OneMama CEO and founder was so moved by a report Gabriela wrote about her time at the CSW in March. In the midst of her thought-provoking notes about her session take-aways was a story about her mother that moved us all. 

The parallels between Gabriela’s mother’s work in Mexico and the work OneMama is doing in rural Uganda is breathtaking. Both beautifully challenging stories, led by incredibly strong woman, with the mission to provide the best possible care for their communities. Two parts of the world, separated by years, but the goal was the same – bringing care to those that had little to no access to the services they needed to thrive. 

“She was not just the only doctor in this area at the time, but the only female doctor to have been assigned to this remote and harsh area of Mexico.” 

Clinic Operations 

Gabriela described the difficulties which her mother faced in working in such a difficult environment, “The area is extremely dangerous; the terrain and weather are harsh.” 

“The only way to reach these areas of the Sierra Madre were by foot, horse or donkey. My mother’s makeshift train car clinic with donated medical supplies would be dropped off in a desolate stretch of land for up to 3 months with no scheduled return date.” 

Like OneMama, Gabriela’s mother worked closely with midwives and healers during her time in Mexico.

“Most of my mother’s medical cases involved complicated pregnancies, family planning, maternal-fetal health and medicine, nutrition, injuries from violence and farming or rail accidents. Eventually the clinic became self-sustaining and was able to focus on preventative care and dental health too.” 

Collaboration 

Gabriela recounted stories of helicopters dropping supplies from the sky because there was no safe place to land.

“Sometimes the packages we would receive did not match the needs of the village, but we were always grateful for what we received.”

She developed partnerships with Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, along with other international organizations and initiatives.

“She also had visiting scientists and engineers developed potable water systems, sanitation and autoclave for surgeries and dental procedures.”

Gabriela also shared with me that even to this day medical personal are provided with train passes to make their work with patients easier – a policy put into place because her mother advocated for it. 

Overtime the clinic become more self-sustainable, “the need for days of travel to the closest hospital became less and less.” Which is a goal for OneMama as well – to provide sustainable operations that do not revolve around a few people, but a whole community through programs and initiatives that will live on for years to come. 

The last time Gabriela’s mom visited the clinic was in 2001, and she was happy to see it was still in operation. This gives us hope that OneMama will also stand the test of time and continue to provide care that is sustainable and lasting.  

We are grateful for the story Gabriela shared and celebrate her mothers work, while also celebrating Gabriela’s contribution to OneMama. <3

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