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Yotes Continue Davis Project Streak with Midwifery Mission in Mexico

May 16, 2024

Three students from The College of Idaho will spend six weeks in Mexico this summer completing a Davis Project for Peace, making it the 17th straight year that the College has had a proposal selected for funding by the Katherine Davis Foundation.

Senior Fernando Barrios, junior Roxi Morales Velazco, and sophomore Maria Esther Manzanares will travel to Tantoyuca, a municipality located about five hours northeast of Mexico City, in June to complete their project, "Colaborando con Parteras: The Importance of Midwives and Recording of Indigenous Knowledge."

Tantoyuca, a rural community near Barrios’ home, was chosen due to its rural location. Morales Velazco (Venezuela) and Manzanares (Nicaragua) are also international students at the College. The Davis Foundation funds each of the chosen projects with a $10,000 grant and the students have six weeks to complete its proposal.

“Fernando really wanted to do a project but wasn’t really sure what he wanted the project to be about,” said Morales Velazco, an anthropology/sociology major. “Maria read an article about midwifery and brought it up. That’s when we started heading that way, in that direction, with the project.”

Midwives provide care and support for women and their families during pregnancy, during labor and immediately following the birth. Some consider it an alternative form of medicine versus traditional hospital care, but this project plans to highlight medicine outside of traditional systems in large part because of the number of pregnancies that take place in areas that can’t access traditional systems.

“Midwives have a support community for pregnant women,” said Manzanares, who is double-majoring in psychology and art. “I love the idea that it’s not just about going to the hospital to give birth. It’s also about psychology and emotional support.”

Barrios says the group will be interviewing and consulting with many people in the Tantoyuca region to create materials that can be distributed within smaller, rural communities to demonstrate the importance of midwives.

“I like to learn, I like to explore. This is something that has been outside my environment when I was growing up so I’ve never had a chance to dive into it as much in a practical sense,” said Barrios, who will graduate later this month with degrees in international political economy and theater. “In academia, we read about a lot of things that are happening but there is something about learning by experience that is so crucial.”

One of the big draws to this particular project for the three students was the ability to immerse themselves in the local community through collaboration and education.

“People think about it as alternative medicine,” Morales Velazco said. “It’s not just an alternative medicine, but it really is an asset to these communities.”

Recent Davis Projects for Peace and their location of completion:

2024 Project: Fernando Barrios, Roxi Morales Velazco & Maria Esther Manzanares, Mexico - Colaborando con Parteras: The Importance of Midwives and Recording of Indigenous Knowledge

2023 Project: Jahona Akbarova, Karina Azam & Kelvin Sakyi, Tajikistan - Enhancing the Education Environment and Empowering Orphans in Hisor

2022 Project: Suely S.C. Soeiro & Emily Freko, Angola - She Codes for Peace – Girl Empowerment through Coding

2021 Project: Jazmin Nunez Scolari & Mia Maldonado, Paraguay – Preserving and Expanding the Exnet Legacy

2020 Project (1): Welile Simelane, Eswatini - The Sibane Project: Lighting the Way to a Better Future

2020 Project (2): Diane Toussaint Mbahoze, Rwanda - United Against Unplanned Pregnancy and STDs

2019 Project: Anniella Kabitso, Burundi - Book, Dialogue, and the Clean Light that Lasts: Burundi

2018 Project: Ferdinand Nyabenda, Burundi - Empowering Girls’ Education through Sanitation

2017 Project: Ahmed Arafat, Palestine - Access to Water: A Matter of Health, Education, and Justice

2016 Project: Saraswati Devray, India - Encouraging Girls to Attend School

2015 Project (1): Unoziba Moyo, Zimbabwe - Clean Water for Rural Zimbabwe

2015 Project (2): Moha Mudaqiq, Afghanistan - Promoting Education & Saving Lives/Hand-Pump Wells

2014 Project: Margarette Pierre-Louis, Haiti - Water for Peace

2013 Project: Minh “Mark” Bui/Rahul Sharma, India - Bringing Smiles Where They Never Were

2012 Project: Mauricio Santiago & Luis Reyes, Brazil - Peace Me the Ball

2011 Project: Sophie Dresser, Ecuador - The Working Boys Center

2010 Project: Keats Conley & Casey Mattoon, Egypt - The Recycling School

2009 Project: Kaite Justice, Tanzania - Rural Education

2008 Project: Jacob Fulcher & Samatha Fundingsland, Malawi - Fighting Malaria

The College of Idaho has a 133-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit