Birthing Hope Project – Midwives
Long before there were doctors, nurses, or hospitals, there have been midwives. They have been helping women bring their babies into the world for hundreds of years. Today midwives are still working as a vital part of the community in Africa. God has given midwives an important role in life, that is to help bring His creation into the world. They are special women. Here in the Zanzibar Islands we have met over 400 midwives, heard their stories, touched their lives and they have touched ours. Truly this is a wonderful group of women. These women live in the communities they serve, they know the women they care for. But, they work most times in terrible conditions with no tools for their trade. Most often these women work for no pay. At most they receive eggs, a kanga, or about $3.00 to deliver a baby. We found that most times they only saw the mother at the time of delivery, there is no prenatal care. Most times they are called when the mother goes into labor. Some walk 10 miles in the middle of the night to reach the home of the mother in labor. It is a big struggle for them to arrive to deliver a baby without proper clean necessities such as: a clean place to lay the mother, clean cloth, clean water, clean ties for the cord, a clean razor blade to cut the cord, soap for washing their hands and most important for mother, baby and midwife; a clean pair of gloves. At times they find themselves in emergency situations without help, no ambulance and no doctor. Most midwives in Zanzibar Islands live in poor communities long distances from a health care facility. Even if a clinic was possible most are not equipped for emergencies. We are trying to help solve these problems.
In 2009 CHaRA started started a program for midwives on the Zanzibar Islands and soon Mafia Island. It begins each Spring in Concord, North Carolina where over 100 women gather for the “Birthing Hope Tea”. At the tea funds are raised to support the midwife project in Zanzibar. Once funds are raised Gaylyn Queseberry Director of ELEOS with the help of Evagnel Worship Center work to put together a simple but powerful tool we call a “birth kit”, this kit includes; a plastic sheet for laying the mama on (they call it a makantosh) 2 pairs of gloves, a bar of soap, guaze for cleaning the babies eyes, string for tying the cord, and a sterile razor blade. The kits cost about $5.00 to prepare and ship. Two other items the midwives ask for was an apron and a torch (a flashlight). In most villages there is no power and if there is power that does not mean you get power. Now through the Birthing Hope Tea we are able to provide a headlamp and an apron.
The next step is to train the midwives and deliver the birth kits. The first seminars were done by Gaylyn Quesenberry and a team of volunteers from North Carolina, California and Florida. They had a great time with the midwives: we all smile a lot, laughed, sang, learned and sometimes cried with these ladies. We shared pictures of our families, they enjoyed seeing them and it makes us just like them women with families. Later a young lady from South Africa joined us for a day of training in Kijini. Claire is a certified midwife and nurse. This place is very rural, most women could not write their names (that should make you cry for them). When asked, “what is the most important tool you have for deliver?” One said a piece of wood.” This wood helps them hold the mother while she is in labor. We found the ladies were happy for us to teach them and extremely happy to receive the birth kits. They are still receiving these supplies today because of the ladies at the tea or those who give on line.
A team of young women from YWAM joined CHaRA for a second round of teaching in Kivunge. They were so well received we decided to add a second seminar for all the midwives. In 2011 with the help of Lee Ann from Cupertino California and Abundant Life Seminar #2 “Stages of labor and delivery” was created. She brought the first team to present the seminar and it was well received by health officials and the midwives.
My first time with the midwives I found myself learning so many things about this wonderful job they do. They do it from a heart of love for mothers and babies, my heart agreed with theirs. It is a job passed down generation to generation. Women are now being encouraged to go to the health facilities for delivery, which in the right time and circumstance is a great idea, but for now 53% are delivering at home and they need our help. They need clean tools, flashlights and gloves. We are happy to help until every woman can reach a clinic. Something else I found in being with these women, they needed to be respected, confirmed, and uplifted in their work and for who they are as women. One of my favorite moments is when they hear that God had given them this special job, that He had created them for this purpose, they sit up and their faces begin to shine. A light enters the room where these women sit. We all want to be accepted, confirmed and loved. These women receive a big dose of respect, confirmation, education and love while CHaRA teams are with them. It is our joy to be with these women.