The Philippines is no stranger to strong winds and rain. Last November brought the largest Typhoon to ever hit landfall and Mercy In Action responded to the disaster with emergency medical and maternity tents to provide care in the areas hardest hit. Although we have not experienced a typhoon of that magnitude since, we still continue to experience typhoons and storms that are strong enough to wash away roads and homes. This poses a particularly dangerous situation for childbearing women who are most vulnerable if they go into labor during the peak of a storm. Therefore, it is no surprise that our clinic has been unusually busy this last week as Typhoon Henry (Matmo) approached, uprooting trees and flooding roads. Many expectant mothers came to our clinic seeking refuge before either their labor or the storm became too intense. And because our clinic stands, with a strong foundation and many beds, those women were able to receive kind and capable care while the rains came down outside.
It is because of the kind donations of strangers that our clinic is able to be that safe place in the storm. Mercy In Action and the families we serve thank you for your support
The Philippines is among the top 10 countries in the world where there is great inequality in newborn deaths between the richest and poorest populations, according to Save the Children’s study entitled, Ending Newborn Deaths: Ensuring Every Baby Survives, which was launched in Manila on Friday, April 11.
“Less than 30 per cent of the babies in the poorest sector of the Philippines are delivered by a skilled birth attendant, compared to nearly 100 per cent in the richest economic bracket.” said Ned Olney, Philippine Director of Save the Children. They are asking all of us in the Philippines to give every newborn a promise of survival, which includes ensuring that every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers, and removing user fees for all maternal, newborn and child health services, including emergency obstetric care; and
Mercy In Action is proud to say that we have highly trained midwives on staff and we have removed all barriers to care for the poorest members of society by having no user fees in our Birth Center for any of our maternity care services, including labor and delivery, prenatal check-ups, baby check-ups, and home visits after the birth. Even when life-saving drugs are needed, they are provided free of charge to the patient, thanks to the generosity of you, our donors!
Just last week, a baby was born not breathing, who needing immediate resuscitation at birth, but thanks to the skilled care he received at Mercy In Action, he was breathing and in his mother's arms within a few minutes after birth. "Salamat Po", said the mother,over and over again, which means "Thank you" in Tagalog. "O walang anuman", said the midwives, smiling down at the happy mother and nursing baby. "It was no trouble at all".
Skilled midwives, with good emergency training, giving services at no charge to the mother, with kindness. These are the factors that make a life-saving difference. This is the opportunity Mercy In Action has here in the Philippines during this time of crisis for our newborns.
While there is a crisis in our country, we see the opportunity to be a model of what is possible, providing excellence in midwifery care for all women, regardless of income. Thank you for helping us make such a difference here in the Philippines.
Were you aware that your donation could make such a difference?
Looking back over the last year there are so many emotions. In 2013 we provided a safe delivery for 272 mothers and their babies. I feel such gratitude when I think about that number as it would not be possible to do this work without the support we receive from individuals.
And each of those 272 mothers represents a much larger number as she is part of a family and a vital contributor to the community.
Today Mary Grace came into our clinic to give birth to her 5th child. She had delivered her four other children unattended in her home. She lives in a shack along the river. Two years ago she lost two of her daughters in a drowning accident as they tried to cross the swollen river during flood season. My heart aches for her loss. For the difficulty of the life that she was born into. Mary Grace and her husband make a living by planting crops and walking their produce in to town to sell in the local market each day. She has encountered so much loss and heartache in her lifetime.
Mary Grace gave birth to a healthy baby boy tonight and although she had a few minor complications we were able to immediately respond and provide her with the care she needed. Tomorrow she will be going home with a healthy baby. I am so thankful we are able to provide her with kind, compassionate, culturally competent care.
How can you put a value on what one life is worth? Is it worth our time, our attention? Is it worth our effort or even our money? When faced with so many needs, our limitations become all too apparent. Yet, the question remains, what is one life worth? Together, we respond -- that we do have the resources to meet the needs of so many mothers and infants -- together, with all of you who have chosen to give of yourselves selflessly -- that we cannot morally afford to ignore the desperate situation for so many families resigned to a life of neglect -- together, we will continue to provide a safe and loving place for those in need of a place of refuge.
Our hearts are overwhelmed with appreciation and love for all of you who join us in this journey towards safe motherhood. Thank you!
*The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the patients. The women shown in the pictures are not Mary Grace but are women who delivered at our clinic.
This attached video is to say a big Thank You to all who donated to Mercy In Action through GlobalGiving.
Many women in the Philippines where we live are unable to afford a skilled birth attendant. So just like Mary in the famous Christmas story, when they start labor they have no where to go and no one to help, because there is still "no room at the inn" for pregnant women who cannot afford to pay.
But because of your geneours giving to Mercy In Action through GlobalGiving, our kind and caring midwives have been able to help hundreds of women give birth safely this year, and help thousands more to get good quality prenatal and postnatal care, and regular check ups for their newborn babies, all totally free of cost to the patients.
Maria recently said "You are my angels", when referring to how Mercy In Action staff helped her when she experienced pregnancy complications last month. She is one of many women who expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the services of Mercy In Action's birthing home.
So to all our GlobalGiving donors, deepest gratitude from all of us here in the Philippines as we approach the Christmas season. Please remember us in your prayers!
And please enjoy the Thank you Video attached to this report!
In the words of another famous Christmas story, "God Bless us, everyone!"
This past week, our home in Olongapo, Philippines was in the world news headlines as we were hit by a typhoon and experienced the worse flooding in our recorded history. Now we are all digging out of this natural disaster that affected 18 of our 19 local communities in this region and flooded more than 90% of our city, including our own family home. Most significant for Mercy In Action, during and since the flooding began more pregnant women than ever are coming in to deliver in our birth center. We think the storm and the trauma of losing their homes and possessions triggered many women to go into labor. And they are staying longer after childbirth in our center, staying dry and warm and being fed while they wait for their homes to be cleaned and cleared of mud enough to return home.
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