Tue, Apr 29, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Cultural center memorial to longtime Chiayi midwife becomes fertility totem

By Lin Yi-chang and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sikou Township Mayor Liu Chun-ting, left, poses with a statue of Chang Hsin-chun, the first midwife employed by the local government, outside of the Hakka Culture Center in the Chiayi County’s township on Thursday last week.

Photo: Lin Yi-chang, Taipei Times

A statue outside of the Hakka Culture Center in Chiayi County’s Sikou Township (溪口) in honor of a highly respected midwife who passed away last year at the age of 106 appears to have become a lucky talisman for women hoping for children.

Chang Hsin-chun (張新春) was the first midwife employed by the local government, helping women give birth, and providing prenatal and postnatal care.

“In early days, most people had little knowledge about health and medicine. Risks were great for women giving birth in rural areas,” Sikou Township head Liu Chun-ting (劉純婷).

“So the job of midwife was very important then. At 19, Chang began to assist in delivering babies, and at 20, she was appointed as the first official midwife in our township’s health center. She worked her job for more than 50 years,” Liu said. “When she helped to deliver babies for poor families, she did not charge them fees. Her benevolence is remembered by many people.”

Township residents recall that Chang continued to work even when she was pregnant. However, one time when she was called out, she was being carried on a palanquin by porters when one of the men suffered an epileptic seizure and the palanquin had to stop. Chang quickly walked the rest of the way to assist her client, despite her own advanced state of pregnancy.

According to Wang Hsiu-mei (王秀眉), director of Sikou Township Culture and Lifestyle Exhibition Hall, Chang cared for countless pregnant women and delivered several thousand babies.

“Four years ago when not aware if I was pregnant, Chang met me and touched my stomach. She told me that I was pregnant and that I must take extra care of my body,” Wang said.

“She even told me the baby’s gender. I was 40 years old then, and was at some risk due to my age, but through her good hands, I gave birth to a healthy baby,” Wang added.

Most township residents over the age of 40 were delivered by Chang.

When she died last year, Chang was sorely missed. Both residents and the district office wanted to do something to commemorate her and so they raised funds for a statue to commemorate her.

The statue, titled Welcoming New Life with Her Hands, is of a woman cradling a baby in her arms. It was place in front of the Hakka Culture Center because the building once housed the township’s health center, where Chang worked.

“The statue was designed to let more people know about healthcare situations of the early days, but it has turned out to be a good luck charm for local women,” a local official said.

The official said that if a woman touches the statue, her prospects of becoming pregnant are improved, and the figure has become popular for couples wanting to have children.

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