Success!!! 3 organisations in Ethiopia are now make their own birthing kits, while providing an income for disadvantaged women.
Over 30,000 birthing kits were made locally in Ethiopia.
The program targets impoverished women who earn an income while assembling kits so as to become more independent.
A recent monitoring visit in November 2012 by two BKFA directors reinforced the success of this program that spreads across Ethiopia to the Afar, Tigray and central regions.
Thank you for making it possible for women in these regions to look after their own women and babies – sustainability is being achieved.
Desta Mender is an extension of the Hamlin Fistula Hospital. It is where women with untreatable fistulas from severe childbirth injury, live in beautiful surroundings and now call home. The production of their 10,000 kits was part of the re-integration program for 5 women who were each paid 5000 Birr. They formed the “Birthing Kit Club” with the aim to make them financially independent. As the project coordinator writes “we have learnt that they are waiting for the second phase with bated breath”
At Abraham’s Oasis in Tigray region there is one qualified nurse and one vulnerable woman, who are assembling the kits and being paid 350 Birr per month. They are employing an extra helper to finish the making of their 10,000 kits in time.
In the Afar region Valerie Browning through the Afar Pastoralist Development Association organised for 10,000 kits to be made. Similarly local people were employed to make the kits. To accompany this there was also extra training of the Health Extension Workers with 73 from 36 kabelles attending a 1 day course – again funded by the BKFA.
The Foundation again thanks its supporters who have enabled us to initiate early sustainability through 3 partner organisations to large sections of Ethiopia.
Thank you for helping the Pigmies who are the poorest and most disadvantaged people in DR Congo. The life of a Pigmie woman is difficult, with marriage often at 13, and they are the main workers in the family, carrying heavy loads on their backs from an early age. Their home of North Kivu Province is very remote with war still a constant in their lives.
The Pigmie people are nomadic people with illiteracy at 99% as they believe school is a waste of time. Basic hygiene is non existant with 99% of births are at home.
Thank you for helping to fund the midwifery, health, hygiene and nutrition training seminar. It ran for 3 days with 100 traditional midwives from the 10 villages of Kasenyi, Bushara, Bukumu, Bugeregere, Byungo, Karubamba, Muja, Karungu, Kanyati and Mutaho in North Kivu province being the recipients.
These communities are so remote that the trainers had to travel 400 kms to Goma the venue for the seminar. The Pigmies themselves were transported up to 70 km by motor bike to the venue. This is a region that is still at war and soldiers accompanied the trainers and the women for their safety.
Dr Luc Mulimbalimba Masururu on an earlier visit had observed that hygiene was non existant, they birthed onto leaves, used sharper leaves to cut the umbilical cord or else repeatedly used a dirty blade for several deliveries, and there was no hand washing. The people sleep on leaves in rudimentary huts with dirt floors. They are lucky to have one blanket. They go for months without washing and smell offensively. They have skin diseases and infections purely from the poor personal hygiene.
The hotel they were booked into for the seminar, refused their accommodation as they were so dirty and smelly that other patrons at the venue would have left. Dr Luc fortunately found alternative accommodation at short notice.
The first day of the seminar was on hygiene and Dr Luc was thrilled when they all came the next day bathed and clean. There is no lack of water in DR Congo as there are many rivers, they just had no idea that bathing was necessary or beneficial to their health.
2000 birthing kits were made at Luvungi Hospital, DR Congo, with the contents being locally sourced and 2000 kits came from Australia. Each birth attendant left with 40 kits.
Dr Luc established midwifery clubs so the birth attendants could meet monthly to reinforce their lessons learned. It is an opportunity for fellowship and exchanging of experiences. There was so much learned at the seminar, however, being illiterate they could not read the information again, so the midwifery clubs are important reinforcement opportunities.
The seminar was so successful that Dr Luc is looking at holding another one next year.
Thank you to our supporters who helped fund 200 women in Tamilnadu State being trained in basic maternal and infant health. Women trained came from 100 villages in 3 regions, Chidambaram (40 villages), Kattumannarkoil (40 villages) and Viruthachalam (20 villages). The last training made 200 volunteers and midwives aware of the safe delivery, referral services and the use of birthing kits. They also stay with the new mothers for 1-2 hours after delivery and visit for 5-10 days. Now more women are seeking immunization and antenatal advice. It's basic health, and can save lives!
Poor women get no basic health education and there are almost no facilities for poor women giving birth. Where there are health options women often do not take them out of ignorance and fear. Basic training and the provision of birthing kits to provide a clean birthing environment for women giving birth at home is a great way to make changes at a grass roots level.
A basic health training programme trains birth attendants in all aspects of maternal and infant health and provides a support service to birthing mothers, making sure they have help in the early days of their new arrival. They also encourage immunization and antenatal checks.
Elements of the training get embedded gradually into the community. Once a birth attendant uses a birthing kit and sees the clean environment it creates she will never attend a birth without one. It is her encouragement to use immunization services and antenatal check ups that also leave a permanent message in the minds of the mothers of the area.
Mrs A Victoria, President SWEAD was "Thrilled with the training in the area. Since the training no women and only one baby have died. It is a huge improvement."
Thankfully with your help we have now been able to hold training for another 80 traditional birth attendants in the Maasai Mara communities in Kenya and to take the opportunity to monitor the impact of the last program for 80 women.
Location is Maasai Rift Valley Province, Narok – South District, Mara Division, Koyiaki Loction and Talek Sub-Location, Kenya
Our agent, Dr Luc, was surprised at how the people had taken on board his recommendations. “My greatest joy and satisfaction was that the first seminar had so much impact on the lives of the traditional midwives and the entire Maasai community than even I had imagined and I was so much surprised at the great stride the Maasai women had made in changing some of their hazardous traditional believes and encompassed new modern ways for the sake of their health.”
Our BKFA training programs focus on improving maternal health along with general education on health, hygiene and nutrition.
Impact of the training was not just in childbirth practices. In his words
1. “Most of the women and the village at large were no longer going to the bushes for ¨long calls but they had built up communal latrines that they were using. This is as a result of our last seminar where we showed them the importance of having latrines and the many advantages of having a clean and safe environment and to my surprise they had taken every detail into consideration.”
2. “The Maasai traditional women now take bath on a daily basis not like in the past days where they could shower once per week ……….but when I visited them again they had completely changed and were looking very smart.”
3. “Before, they could not eat chicken because they believed it is a bird, they took fish for snake and could not even eat greens saying they are just bush leaves but all that is now gone with the past and they have wholly taken to new and better styles of living.”
4. “At least they had the Maasai sheets to change for clothing, courtesy of BKFA and they were very much impressed to see us and had lots of fond memories of the last seminar. They were so happy and delighted and greatly thanked BKFA.”
“The road to Maasai Mara was very long and tiresome but am so grateful to God that we were able to reach Maasai Mara without any problems. The educators taught very well and the traditional midwives were very very excited. I found that they had a very big problem of birthing kits, the expectant women had gotten used to giving birth by use of the birthing kits but when the kits got finished, it became a little bit difficult for them to continue with work well but by good luck, we had taught them on the means of using the locally available materials for birthing so when the kits got finished this came in handy.”
The importance of sustainability and need for education in using local resources.
“This is very great news for us and we are filled with so much joy to realize that the efforts we put in went into a worthy course. Am so grateful to the Birthing Kits Foundation Australia for supporting the first and the second seminars. Thank you so much for this big role you are playing in the society of ensuring clean and safe birth for every woman.” Dr Luc
Thank you to our supporters for enabling us to hold this most worthy and needed training program.
Ruth Kennedy, from Abraham’s Oasis thanks you for your donations of help.
When the kits were initially sent in 2008 Ruth wrote “ We are so remote here that each kit is more precious than any gold or money, as these items cannot be bought with either as the contents are simply not available! Bless you, bless you all for sending these to us”
The kits had proven to be invaluable. More women and babies were surviving childbirth.
However, Ruth was so remote that she could not easily get regular supplies of the finished kits, made in Australia, without days of traveling and much expense as she had go to Addis Ababa to collect them. To help solve this problem the BKFA then worked with Ruth in establishing a local birthing kit production program.
We thank you for your donations which have enabled the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia) to provide the funds for Ruth to make her own birthing kits, sourcing the supplies and paying nominal wages to local women to help assemble the kits. These women had health issues and would not normally have been employable. These supplies are sourced in the city.
Ruth has just completed making 2000 birthing kits locally. The first stage towards sustainability. The program was so successful another one is planned for this year. The demand is for 10,000 kits annually.
“We are grateful but even more so those who have no voice say thank you, the indigent farmer’s wife, the brand new mother of 14 or 15 years of age…. the children who have survived, the gratitude of having a mother… This we write from Abraham’s Oasis where fifty children live many orphaned because there was no one to help “Mum”. “ Ruth Kennedy
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