The Shanti Uganda Society

The Shanti Uganda Society improves infant and maternal health, provides safe women-centered care and supports the well-being of birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. We imagine a world where birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS are supported, empowered and able to develop to their full potential. All Shanti Uganda programs contribute to our guiding organizational values - Community Participation: All projects are locally initiated and supported with a deep sense of solidarity and ownership. Work on the ground is supported through the time, passion and employment of the local communities we work with. Unity: We support and embrace everyone within the global f...
Aug 20, 2014

Role Models

Shanti's first Teen Girls Workshop for August started out strong. We got a full group of twenty-five girls, all of whom have heard of our workshop through other members of the community and were anxious to start. Their favourite part of the workshop has been learning about self-esteem and how to bake cakes. Most commented on how excited they were to be able to bake cakes and make some money to buy school materials.

At the end of the workshop a meeting was held with the parents and community leaders in order for the girls to show them what they had learned and how they could help them live the lessons every day. They staged a very entertaining production about a girl who was forced to look for other means of income because her family spent all the money on alcohol and entertainment. Thankfully it had a happy ending through the positive and constructive dialogue between her and her family. It was then decided that a leadership team would be formed with five girls who excelled in the workshop and five adults in the community who committed themselves to become role models and confidants for the success of the girls of their community.

Aug 1, 2014

Birth is not Painful. Women are Strong.

Mother with Baby
Mother with Baby

“Ekyama kyetulina mu buwangwa bwaffe kiri nti okuzaaia tekuiuma wabuia abakyaia bamaanyi”

This quote greets clients and visitors as they enter Shanti Uganda’s reception area and when I first arrived I curiously asked Sister Mary what it meant. She laughed and said, “we have a secret in our culture that says birth in not painful, but women are strong.” Birth is not painful. Women are strong.

While I have only been in Uganda for one month now, I have already heard plenty of stories that speak to women’s resilience and strength. I have been learning so much about pregnancy and childbirth in Uganda and about mother centred care. Shanti Uganda not only addresses the pressing problem of maternal mortality in Uganda, but they do so in a way that respects cultural beliefs and offers women quality of care that is not found in publicly funded hospitals. Mother-centred care stresses the importance of providing individualized care based on a woman’s needs and desires, ensures that women can deliver in a supportive and respectful environment and empowers women to participate in their own birth experiences. Learning about the principles of mother-centred care has caused me to reflect on how we think about and address pregnancy and childbirth in Canada, particularly the deep-seated idea that childbirth necessarily must be a painful experience. Being at Shanti reminds me that even though the way we think about birth is determined by our cultural understanding of it, all women possess the necessary strength to deliver a healthy child into this world. 

Another reminder of Shanti’s commitment to mother-centred care is a series of cut-out paper hearts fastened together with string that hangs underneath the quote about strong women. Each heart has a word written on it, representing an aspect of mother-centred care. Words like  “compassion,” “connection,” and “strength” are further reminders of Shanti’s goal to provide safe and mother-centred maternal healthcare to women in Uganda.  This same string of hearts hung at the Stanbic maternal health week that happened a few weeks ago. And while it served as a powerful reminder of women’s strength and Shanti’s support network of women helping women, I was pleasantly surprised by how many men were interested in learning more about family planning options. I met one young Ugandan man who spoke so passionately about a woman’s right to maternal health. He knew all the statistics about maternal mortality in Uganda and was resolute about the government’s responsibility to do more to ensure that rates of maternal mortality are reduced. This was a memorable conversation. It left me feeling hopeful about the future and it motivates me to continue contributing as best I can to Shanti’s mission and goals.

May 7, 2014

Through the lens of a midwife

We want to share with you a very special blog written by one of our midwives at the Shanti Uganda Birth Centre. Today only your donation will be matched by Global Giving up to 30% so your dollar will stretch even further. Please consider making a donation today and supporting our midwives to provide the safest and most loving birth care to all mothers.  

Through the lens of a midwife, by Ssanyu Namuleme

Birth here in Uganda is not conducive to the mothers. Things such as gloves and birthing tools will not be provided for mothers at health centres.  There is no encouragement for the mothers to come with specific birth partners for support. Additionally, mothers that are deep in the villages are sometimes unable, or choose not to go all the way to the hospital or maternity center to give birth and have to rely on the traditional birth attendants.

When I was in Senior 5, one of my friends got pregnant.  She, like most girls who become pregnant early here, was sent out of school.  She attended her maximum of four prenatal visits entirely on her own.  When she went into labor, she was still on her own.  Due to societal pressures, our entire group of friends, and even her auntie, whom she was living with, had abandoned her.  She then called me, to tell me her situation.  I asked permission from my mother if I could join her, and I accompanied her to a private maternity center.  It was about 8 p.m. when we knocked on the door.  There was a midwife there who answered, but her attitude towards us was extremely negative.  She even slapped my friend when she was pushing.  There was no respect for my friend.  I was shocked and felt hurt.  From this moment on, I decided to join the midwifery world in order to see if all midwives behaved like that.  If that was the case, I wanted to be able to provide a different type of care for the mothers, but fortunately I have found a very caring and knowledgeable group of midwives to work with. 

I feel fortunate to work with Shanti because there are distinct between Shanti and other hospitals. Mothers get the best services because of the personal experiences of the different midwives Shanti has. We will teach teen girls different behaviors and workshops so they can avoid the same situation my friend found herself in.  Not to mention, Shanti is a learning center.  I look forward to the different training available to me, which enables me to grow as a midwife.

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