International Day of the Midwife was May 5 this year, with Mother's Day following a week later on May 12. Two great reasons to celebrate ~ Except that all over the globe there is a shortage of skilled midwives to be with mothers when they give birth. Most international health experts claim this is why the maternal and newborn death rates are so high all over Asia and Africa. Statistics show us that we need at least 300,000 more midwives to be with mothers immediately around the globe in order to make birth safe.Not so at Mercy In Action's Birth Center in Olongapo, Philippines ~ We are staffed with wonderful midwives and training new midwives all the time!Take the story of Ann. Her mother Raquel gave birth in our birth center two years ago, during the rainy season. When her labor began, Raquel trekked out from her mountain home in the dark night, forded the river, and walked all the way to our Birth Center, several miles away, in order to deliver her sixth baby with the skilled and compassionate midwives she knew awaited her at Mercy In Action. After the birth, she could not cross the river to return home for several days, as the rains had swollen the river and made it impassable. So she was invited to stay in our Maternity Waiting Home with her family. Later, Raquel and her husband Tanno came to work at Mercy In Action as the caretakers, bringing with them their six children.Ann, their eldest daughter, showed an interest in midwifery, so we took her on as an intern. Now Ann is attending the local Midwifery College on a full scholarship from Mercy In Action. We are training the next generation!When there are enough kind and skilled midwives in the world, working within birth facilities that are affordable and welcoming, then all women will have the chance to survive and thrive during childbirth.The world needs Midwives to make a Happy Mother's Day for all.
I want to tell you a story about my friend Rosalie. She likes to be called Lee by her friends. She likes flowers and fresh fruit and loves her children fiercely. Lee also has a life long disease called Hepatitis B.
The World Health Organization reports that 1 in 10 Asian women currently live with this condition. Hepatitis B is not necessarily due to high risk behaviors like having multiple partners or IV drug use. This illness is also passed in another way, from mother to child.
You see Lee’s mother unknowingly passed this condition to her daughter. And without treatment, Lee will pass it on to her baby at birth. This is not just a sad story though. The story I am telling today is one of hope, of a new life brought forth, and that of freedom from this sad cycle.
Lee was carrying her fourth child when her neighbor told her about Mercy Midwives and the clinic that we operate, offering free care to all who seek a safe, compassionate birth, free from the burden of a fee for services rendered. Lee had a safe delivery at our birth center and her newborn was given both the Hepatitis B Vaccine that all newborns receive, but also the Hepatitis B immune globulin which will prevent the child from contracting this illness.
We live in an exciting time ladies and gentlemen. We now have a way to prevent one of the ways that this disease is spread, from mother to child. Please join us by supporting our work here in the Philippines. You can be a part of a new hope for our future.
*** Names changed to protect the family's privacy. Pictures shown are of the women we care for but not of Rosalie or her family.
In October Vicki Penwell of Mercy In Action was honored to present our birth model at the Mid-Pacific Conference on Birth and Primal Health Research in Honolulu, Hawaii. The name of the talk was "Improved perinatal outcomes in developing countries through better protection of the physiological processes".
We have a successful birth model that works here in Olongapo, Philippines, as demonstrated with our outstanding statistics on outcomes and the high rate of satisfaction from the women who give birth there. We train all our midwife staff in the use of the "10 Steps to Optimal Maternity Care", a set of standards developed by the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative, and ratified by 163 countries.
Please continue to support this project so that Mercy In Action's birth center can continue to be a refuge for the poor in Olongapo, a place where maternity care is kind, evidence-based, and free.
Birth Amidst the Crisis:
This is a picture of the baby born in the recent flood. We are so humbled by how resilient the Filipino people are; the woman in labor was so brave in the midst of the storm, and our Filipina midwives, who only hours before were frightened for their own lives with (water up to their necks) were heroes as they came to the aid of the woman in labor; they just figured out a space, a high bed and a way to use what we had to help this little one safely into the world. Two days later, while we were still cleaning up, two more babies were born; this time both mothers experienced potentially life-threatening complications of labor. Life is hard but God is good, and our Mercy In Action birth center is making an important difference in the lives of the local women.
Everyone on our team has gotten right to work cleaning and caring for the needy at the same time after this devastating flood...
Birth Center flooded:
As for our clinic and birth center, water was 5 feet high inside, so as you can imagine, much of our medical equipment and furniture are a total loss, although we were able to put many things up high before the flood hit full force. We will be rebuilding and purchasing new medical supplies with donations. Thank you for your kind generousity to help women in crisis to give birth safely. Your donations are more important now than ever.
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