In November 2013, MADRE supported a women’s health delegation to the Middle East to provide both urgent care and to support local women’s health workers in the region, including our partners at Midwives for Peace. The delegation delivered supplies to local women's organizations supporting Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Syrian refugees in Jordan. Donated supplies included: prenatal vitamins, sterile towels, sterile gloves and alcohol preps, pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins and iron tablets, urinalysis tubes and tests, and Pedialyte. These supplies are crucial to ensuring safe births for mothers and babies in the West Bank. We couldn’t imagine a better way to end 2013 and we look forward to accomplishing so much more with you in 2014! Thank you for supporting this important project.
This year, MADRE is celebrating our 30 years of demanding rights, resources and results for women worldwide. In celebration of our 30th anniversary, our sisters at Midwives for Peace sent us a special message. We’d like to share that message with you now. We hope you enjoy it!
Happy birthday from women who know something about birthdays!!
We here in the Middle East want to wish you, members of the MADRE community all over the world, best wishes for your 30th birthday.
MADRE and Midwives for Peace have had a wonderful, ongoing, empowering and inspiring partnership. We think of you as true partners. You help us fulfill our mission of supporting women and helping each other in the field of women’s health.
We wish you many more years of feminist activism!!
…and to continue our partnership as old friends should.
With Love from Midwives for Peace
“As an Israeli midwife, I always wanted to talk to Palestinian midwives, to see their experience and exchange stories — that’s how we learn. We are neighbors, and with neighbors, you should talk. It’s unnatural that we don’t talk. So I came to the first meeting of this group. That was five years ago. Now we are more than neighbors. We are friends.”Gomer, the Israeli coordinator of our sister organization Midwives for Peace, told me this on my recent visit to the West Bank. I was there to celebrate the group’s five year anniversary, a truly remarkable milestone.Israel and Palestine are at a political standstill. The level of despondency in the region is as strong as I’ve ever seen it. And the lack of confidence in progress is widespread. As you can imagine, under these difficult circumstances, collaboration can seem impossible. Yet the commitment of our sister organization of Israeli and Palestinian midwives remains strong. Through it all, they continue to work together to learn from each other and to safely deliver babies in the West Bank, despite the conflict that surrounds them. What an inspiration!The anniversary meeting gave the midwives a chance to celebrate, reflect and share their plans for the future. In 2014, the group hopes to send representatives to the International Conference of Midwives in Prague.And this August, they are planning a group trip to the beach. You might be wondering what a day at the beach has to do with breaking down barriers between Palestinians and Israelis, but consider this: some of the Palestinian midwives are refugees whose families came from coastal villages, yet they themselves have never seen the ocean. As Aisha, the group’s Palestinian coordinator, said to me, “the friendships we are building as midwives, as women, are opening doors in our lives and in our hearts that the conflict had tried to nail shut.”I’m always so moved to see the collaboration and friendship between our Israeli and Palestinian sisters. Our partnership with Midwives for Peace is something I am proud of every day. I was so grateful to be able to attend their anniversary event, and I look forward to celebrating their next five years.
MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind is currently on her way to Palestine, where she will meet with the Midwives for Peace on April 18 to celebrate their 5 year anniversary as an organization! For the past 5 years, Israeli and Palestinian midwives have been meeting every few months to collaborate on small, local projects and provide prenatal and neonatal care to women. To mark this important milestone, all 25 midwives who have been with the group since its inception will gather to celebrate each other and the courageous work that they do.
During the celebration, Play-Life, an Israeli improvisational theater group will provide entertainment for the midwives. Also, MADRE, along with our partners at COHI, are happy to be able to donate items from Maternova to the midwives to support and reinforce their vital work. Each midwife will receive a solar powered light to work effectively at night and in areas without reliable electricity as well as a hemoglobin color scale kit to quickly and easily test their patients for anemia.
Happy 5th Anniversary to Midwives for Peace!
We recently received a message from Midwives for Peace telling us about their most recent meeting. We’d like to share this update with you now.On October 23, 2012, we met to watch "Freedom for Birth", a film that highlights human rights violations related to childbirth, and calls for the radical reform of childbirth systems around the world. With MADRE’s support, we received permission from the producers of the film to add Arabic subtitles, so that all members of the group could watch and discuss the film, as it relates to our work as midwives. The film tells the story of Agnes Gereb, a Hungarian midwife who was imprisoned for performing home births in her country. This is particularly relevant as we just received an update from Halla that the Palestinian Ministry of Health has decided to prohibit home births in the West Bank. This will of course influence Halla's ability to continue her work as a home birth midwife, and we pray to hear better news on this issue. The rest of the meeting was spent writing about our personal experiences as members of Midwives for Peace for a chapter in a book being written about different midwifery models worldwide.Our next meeting is scheduled for January 14, 2013. We look forward to sharing more updates with you after this meeting.
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