The 40 midwife trainees selected from the villages have now completed two months of their year long training. The trainees are living in the new dormitory whose construction was funded by KIDS FOR KIDS at the Ministry of Health's Midwives Training School in 2010. This was funded by KIDS FOR KIDS when we found that lack of accommodation was the principal factor preventing the training an adequate number of village midwives. The commitment of the trainees is outstanding - many of them have left small children to be cared for my family members back home. To find women willing to be parted from their babies and young children for such a long time is quite amazing and shows just how much all women value the possibility of having a trained person in the village to guide them through pregnancy and childbirth and how proud these women are to be able to bring these services and peace of mind to all mothers in the village.
In the meantime the midwives trained in the past by KIDS FOR KIDS are making a real difference to the lives of pregnant women and nursing mothers in the villages. Through their efforts a significant dent has been made in the maternal mortality rate.
We finally have a date for the start of the next training for our village midwives - 15 January 2012. Unfortunately only 40 trainees can be accommodated on the training course run by the provincial Ministry of Health whilst there are 46 midwives waiting to be trained so sadly we will have to delay the training of 6 village midwives for a further year which is very disappointing for the women and for the villages concerned. We have recently selected the 60th village for Kids for Kids support and we dearly want to include the volunteers from this village in the list of trainees. Some of the older villages already have one trained midwife and in some cases we have been asked to train a new midwife to replace someone who has had to give up, usually because they have moved away from the village. In these cases we can feel assured that the woman will take her skills and use them in her new village providing the comfort of expert help at the time of pregnancy and childbirth to yet more women in the villages.
For the women who are finally selected as trainee midwives this will be both an exciting and sad time. Exciting as they are eager to learn their new skills but sad as they will be leaving their families for a year - the length of the training course. This indicates what a huge commitment it is for the women and their families. Many of the volunteers have young children and the families will care for these children whilst their mothers are away on the training course. However, the length of the course demonstrates the importance which we attach to ensuring that the women are adequately trained to deal with complex pregnancies and difficult delivery situations. This means that we can assure the women in the villages that they can trust the village midwives as they are highly trained. Their services are eagerly awaited by the women in the villages who approach pregnancy and childbirth with very mixed emotions - delight at the prospect of having a child but fear should they encounter problems during their pregnancy as there is currently no trained help at hand. Their fears are supported by the unacceptably high maternal mortality rate in the villages - a situation which we are earnestly trying to address.
Another exciting development is that we are in consultation with the provincial Ministry of Health over the possibility of KIDS FOR KIDS funding a new midwives training school at Mellit in the north of the province. This would ease the situation which we are presently facing by virtue of the limited capacity of the Midwives Training School in El Fasher. It would also mean that women from the villages in the north would be able to undertake their training closer to home which would enable family members to visit them more easily. We are still in the very early stages of discussions and will keep you informed of developments in due course.
Good progress has been made in launching the activities in the five new villages. The initial emphasis is always on building the capacity of the community to manage the project activities as this is absolutely crucial for the sustainability of the development initiatives. Hence we always ensure that this is done thoroughly and only move forward when we are sure that the community has attained the required level of understanding of its responsibilities and adequate management competency. To this end training has been provided for all the villages for the members of the Village Development Committee which spearheads the overall development and the Animal Loans Committee which is responsible for managing the cornerstone of the development activities supported - the provision of loans for goats and donkeys to the poorest families. This training has covered committee procedures (minutes, agendas, voting systems, etc.), administration (record keeping, reporting, etc.), management skills including monitoring and financial skills including maintenance of accounts and transparency. In addition the members of the Animal Loans Committee have received detailed training in the management of the loans scheme.
Following this the paravets have received their training to ensure that there is adequate help on hand when the beneficiaries receive their goats and donkeys. The beneficiaries and the members of the Village Development Committee and Animal Loans Committee have all received a thorough training in animal husbandry. Arrangements are now in hand to source the goats and donkeys for the beneficiary households.
In the meantime discussions are ongoing with the provincial Ministry of Health and with the head of the Midwives Training School to arrange for the next training programme for the women who have been selected by their communities to be trained as village midwives. The training course lasts for a year and this means that there can be some delay in slotting a new course into the schedule given the limited numbers of trainers and facilities. However, we hope that a new training course will start within the next few months. All the names of the trainees have been submitted to the Midwives Training school and the women are eagerly awaiting the call to El-Fasher to commence their training. They are an incredibly dedicated group of women - it is an immense step to go away from the village for a year for women from a very conservative society - many will never have left the village before, so it is both exciting and daunting for them. It is only possible for the women to go because of the fantastic support provided to them by their families and the wider community - many of the women leave behind young children to be cared for by relatives - this represents a huge sacrifice on the part of the women to be separated from their children for such a long time.
The Chairman and CEO of Kids for Kids, Patricia Parker, is currently in Darfur, both to review the progress of the projects and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Kids for Kids.The celebrations have included a workshop attended by representatives from all the 59 Kids for Kids villages providing an opportunity for exchange of views on the various elements of the programme and to provide pointers as to the future path
Since the last report five new villages have been selected for the implementation of Kids for Kids' integrated programme of activities - these are Um Layouna, Amar Jaded, Hilat Kabir, Elfaki Ali and Siwailinga. These villages have a total population of 9,455 in 1,661 households who will all benefit from our programme for training village midwives to prevent mothers from dying in childbirth. Our project staff have begun the preliminary visits to the villages to explain the principles and contents of the programme. Further visits will be made in the coming weeks at which the communities will indicate their commitment to ensuring that the poorest families in the community receive the assistance they require. At these meetings the communities will also select the community members to guide and manage the various activities. This will include selecting the two women from each village to be trained as village midwives. Prompt selection of these women will enable them to participate in the next training programme for village midwives which will begin in the next few months. Women in the villages will be eagerly anticipating the return of these women as fully trained midwives to provide them with the expert help and advice in pregnancy, child birth and child care which is currently totally lacking in the villages and which is the major cause of the very high rates of maternal mortality in the area. Because of the lack of any knowledge and help within the villages, women greatly fear childbirth. Your donations are enabling us to provide peace of mind to the women in the villages - you cannot imagine how grateful they are to have trained village midwives on hand. Your help is making an enormous difference to the lives of these women.
Women in the villages in Darfur fear childbirth - as well they may as the maternal mortality rate is very high and as a result the average of women in Darfur is only 34 years. Women are fearful as there is no trained help available in the villages - only traditional birth attendants who have only rudimentary and outdated knowledge. Hence KIDS FOR KIDS' programme to train village women as village midwives is a 'dream come true' for the women in the villages. The village midwives provide excellent ante-natal care and are able to refer mothers likely to suffer complications to the local hospital to get expert help in a timely manner. The midwives also play a key role in the heath of the new born babies through providing advice to the mothers on feeding and nutrition. KIDS FOR KIDS trains a minimum of 2 village midwives in each village and we are looking to train more for the larger villages. Our Project staff are currently in discussion with the State Ministry of Health to finalise the dates for the next training course at the Midwife Training School - we hope that the new course will begin by the middle of the year. The 3 new villages have already selected their community members to be trained and they are eagerly awaiting the commencement of their training. The midwife training is for 12 months and the women selected and their families make considerable sacrifices in order to attend the training. In some cases the women have to leave their own babies to be looked after by other family members. The support the women receive from their families and the wider community is indicative of the importance which the communities attach to having trained midwives.
Concerning progress on the wider programme activities in the 3 new villages, the procurement of the goats for the poorest households is on-going. Due to the lack of suitable animals in the local markets, the project staff have engaged livestock agents to procure the goats from further afield and this has brought the added bonus of good quality animals at lower prices. This is most welcome as the price of goats has increased greatly in recent months. KIDS FOR KIDS has decided to extend support to an additional 5 villages in 2011/2012 and we have asked the project staff, in consultation with the Networks representing the communities, to identify suitable villages.
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CEO & Chairman of Trustees