Rafaela Zahioti

Interview: Maro Voulgari | Photo: Nikos Zappas

The greatest joy in life is to become a mother.
The second greatest is to become a midwife

Rafaela Zahioti has graduated with a top degree from the Western Macedonian Technological and Educational Institute in the sector of Midwifery. After her internship in Athenian and Regional hospitals and with Paros as her prospective she participated in the competition for the vacant position of the midwife in the Health Centre of Paros and Antiparos where she was appointed.

How did you feel when you came back after your studies? You returned to a place where there was no provision for an activity like yours?
It was a great joy and honour, being a Parian to work on my island; it is important that I was aware of what the island lacked and therefore I could sound out the people and learn what they needed. I was mainly interested in the training of women on natural birth, in their training on breastfeeding and in the sexual education of young girls…The main thing is that women should become aware of their power to decide about their body. In the same way they should decide on their labour; the time and the method they wish to choose.

How did this effort begin, especially in a country where the situation of health care is so bad?
I asked for what was absolutely necessary. Prevention was the first target. It was inconceivable that the island’s women could not have a free Pap test. After an insistent struggle against bureaucracy, the goal was achieved. Now -with the approval of the Athens administrative service- we can send the tests to a public cytology lab which sends back the results to be evaluated by a gynaecologist here.

How can one dispel the fears of a pregnant woman or of a woman who is afraid to undergo a medical examination or test?
The fear goes away when the woman becomes aware of her power. However, one must prepare her by providing the necessary knowledge. I succeed in this not by proving how competent I am but by mobilizing her own powers.

In what sectors is the Advisory Section active?
In the fields of sexual information, responsible conception, body hygiene, breast self-examination, preparing for a natural childbirth, breastfeeding and of course parenthood. We are talking of parenthood and not of motherhood, because the man must also play his part in the raising of children and not be kept out. “The child birth is the completion of the sexual act”, Michael Odent has said.

Which are the future activities of this new section at Paros and Antiparos?
Visits to the peripheral health centres of Paros and Antiparos are being organized, in agreement with the Ruling Committee and the management of the Health Centre of Paros, for preventive checks and advice to the island’s women, at the regional medical centre. At the same time a section for breast feeding is being set up and I participate in a program on sexual education for schools. Because with knowledge we beat fear!

Summer 2017