María Santiago González Pérez, 63, a midwife and healer, sits with her altar of the Virgin of Guadalupe, San Sebastián Mártir, in Zinacantán, a town in Mexico’s Chiapas state. It is popularly believed that González Pérez, who has been a dedicated midwife for 12 years, gained knowledge of the trade through dreams. She is also an artisan weaver and sells her handicrafts at home and in the esplanade of a church called the Iglesia de San Lorenzo.
Lubale Bamafamu Idinda, a traditional healer, lights a pipe in his shrine in Jinja, Uganda, to begin a ceremony meant to evoke spirits and ancestors. As part of the ceremony, he also shakes regalia such as calabash and chants to start communication with them. Bamafamu’s shrine, like many others in the country, is located next to a place of historical importance – in this case, where European explorers first found the source of the Nile River.
Fataki Saidi, a traditional healer, stands in the house where he consults with and treats patients in the Kabondo commune of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. Saidi uses natural medicinal plants to make herbal remedies and treat diseases.
Ricky Tembo (left) teaches defense techniques to Buhlebenkosi Mlilo during a self-defense class in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. “As women, we should know how to defend ourselves when the need arises,” says Mlilo.
Emmanuel Choto, 8, a student at King George VI, a school for children who are disabled or show signs of autism, rides a horse at Gumtree Farm in Willsgrove, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. “We have two sessions every week for the KGVI children,” says Aileen Johnstone (not pictured), a coordinator at Healing With Horses. “The horse therapy makes it fun for the children and also relaxes their body muscles.”
Ram Kumari Kahdka (left), 75, gets a free eye exam from optometrist Dipendra Shane during an eye care camp for senior citizens at the Surkhet Eye Hospital in Birendranagar, Nepal. The event, sponsored by and conducted in the city’s Ward No. 6, gave free eye exams to 120 local senior citizens.
Peer educator Zoe Kuyanda conducts an on-spot HIV test on Stephen Mbawa in Mtendere Township in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. AIDS-related illnesses continue to be a leading cause of death in eastern and southern Africa, according to UNAIDS, the United Nations program to combat the disease.
Thuan Farzan receives a treatment at a fish massage center at the Floating Market in Pettah, a neighborhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The center says that unexpected benefits of the massage include improved circulation, reduce depression and anxiety and helps to prevent headaches.
Caleb Mulenga, 7, receives a cholera vaccine at the Mutandabantu grounds of Kanyama township, in Lusaka district, Zambia. Cholera has broken out in the country, and Chitalu Chilufya, the minister of health, says that over 3,000 cases have been recorded, and 50 percent of the patients are in Kanyama. Unlawful waste dumping and a lack of clean water are believed to be major contributors to the outbreak.
José Alfredo Ramírez Pérez, 52, a local shaman, waits in central Mexico City for a passerby to request one of his cleansing rituals, which he says remove negative energies. Ramírez Pérez also gives life advice to people who seek it, using his knowledge of pre-Hispanic gods, ancestors and rituals. As a child, he learned the indigenous language of Náhuatl from his grandparents.
Ana Chávez (left), 29, and Francisco Matom (right), 38, help María Brito (center), 35, measure the weight and height of her 1-year-old son, Juan Matom, who is not related to Francisco, in the village of Viucalvitz, in the Nebaj municipality of Guatemala’s Quiché department. This event, held on Aug. 28 by Guatemala's Ministerio de Salud Pública y Asistencia Social, promoted maternal and child health in the community.
Optician Justin Kaminsa (left) gives Jacqueline Banda a free eye exam at the Kalingalinga clinic in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. The Lions Club of Munali arranged for this health service because the organization felt that eye care was inaccessible to poorer members of Kalingalinga township.
In Kanyaruchinya village in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, a cholera outbreak that began in July has claimed the lives of 15 people, most under the age of 10. In response, authorities have created a quarantine area within the Majengo neighborhood of Goma, 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the south. More than 1,100 cases have been reported so far.
Naomie Phillis, 50, sells traditional herbal medicine in Pétion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Phillis has sold medicinal herbs since the age of 9, when she helped her mother. She uses many local herbs and plants, such as chamomile and thyme (left basket) and ginger root (center baskets), to alleviate afflictions that include coughs, other cold symptoms and menstruation pain.
Sarah Hungwe, 67, crochets a bag using old cassette tapes. As part of a project called Friendship Bench in Harare, Zimbabwe, people are taught to make bags from the tapes as a treatment for depression. Hungwe says she became depressed after her husband and daughter died within the same month in 1999. Friendship Bench has helped her to keep busy while earning income from making the bags, she says.
Dr. Claudia Samayoa, from the health center Centro de Salud los Pinos, talked to attendees at the first Feria del Condón, a condom fair, on Valentine’s Day in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a city in Chiapas state. The event promoted condom use as a sign of love between a couple.
People wait in Goma, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, to be tested for AIDS on Dec. 1 for World Aids Day. Testing was offered for free in honor of the day. The prevalence rate of HIV in DRC is around 1 percent, according to UNAIDS, the United Nations’ organization that aims to end the spread of the virus.
Dental technicians studying at KIST Medical College examine patients at a free dental clinic set up on a street in Pulchowk, in Nepal’s Lalitpur district, on July 16. Along with basic checkups, the students offered advice about diet and hygiene.
R. Shobhana, a nurse, checks the blood pressure of Letchumi Neelagiri, 65, who has sickle cell anemia. Neelagiri is from the Irula tribe, which inhabits the southern and eastern slopes of the Nilgiris, a mountainous region in Tamil Nadu state in southeastern India, among other areas. Most Irula women and children suffer from anemia and other health challenges, including scurvy and night blindness, due to food habits and local cultural practices, health experts say. Neelagiri’s blood pressure check is part of a mobile outreach program organized by the Nilgiris Adivasi Welfare Association (NAWA). The program brings medical teams to the Irula every 15 days to check on anemic patients as well as those with other health problems.