Go In Peace

Childbirth Education Empowers Women in India

Luke 8:42-48 As he went, the crowds pressed in on him.  Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her.  She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.  Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.”  But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.”  When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” 

Last month I watched a group of women come into a room and six hours later leave that room empowered. I saw the transformation happen right before my eyes. It was an incredible thing to witness.  Here is the story.

Tara Garner and Heather Munoz conducted a childbirth education class in India for several women. The women’s experiences and education on childbirth varied but a consistent factor among them was that none of these women felt equipped to voice their questions, concerns, or complaints about childbirth to health care providers. Even talking to one another was an obvious obstacle for them—a cultural taboo.

Tara and Heather not only shared their knowledge but they spoke in way that encouraged these women to participate in their own health—to be able to say what happens to their bodies and their babies. Over time, the women began to ask questions that revealed fear, confusion, and even gross misinformation. Then, probably by hour five, there was a complete change. “If my doctor says I can’t, I am now able to tell him that I know I can do it that way,” asserted one woman as the others nodded affirmatively. There was one powerful moment after another as women received the education and support to speak for themselves. As the training ended, the women did more than just pack up the materials given them; they spoke of how they were going to share what they just learned with others.

The time that Jesus took to empower a socially compromised, chronically ill, unnamed woman is captured in one short paragraph. But in that concise narrative, we see the elements of empowerment as Jesus heals her, encourages her to speak, educates her and enables her to “go in peace.” That kind of empowerment is what the women in this childbirth class experienced as they, too, were able to relinquish their fear, lack of education, and silence so that they could “go in peace.”