On May 3, IMA celebrated one of our favorite days of the year: SMK Day. The warehouse in New Windsor was abuzz with volunteers of all ages who wanted to spend their Saturday making a difference.
Over 100 volunteers assembled and boxed 2,800 Safe Motherhood Kits™, preparing them for shipment all over the world. After the volunteers reached their assembly goal, they helped count baby blankets, fold plastic sheets and prepare leftover supplies for the next SMK Day.
At 9:30, the assembly lines paused while IMA honored Pat Amass, the “Mama of the Safe Motherhood Kit™,” who passed away on April 28. Pat, a member of the Rotary Club of Bonds Meadow, approached IMA with the idea for the Safe Motherhood Kit™ in 2007. Since then, thousands of kits have been purchased, assembled and sent to Haiti, South Sudan, DR Congo, Pakistan and many other countries throughout the world.
“I know that Pat is here with us in spirit,” said Rick Santos, President of IMA World Health, following a prayer and moment of silence in her memory. IMA presented the Rotary Club with a plaque in honor of Pat’s vision and partnership, and several members of the club made remarks about her dedication to the project.
IMA would like to thank all of our volunteers for their energy and support, as well as our SMK Day sponsors including New Windsor State Bank, the Rotary Club of Bonds Meadow, WTTR and Westminster United Methodist Church. Additional sponsors included BB&T Bank, Graphcom, Kohn Creative, Performance Food Service, and MTS Travel.
It’s a sticky, sweltering day in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the mood at the Boo Nsuba Health Center and Maternity is light and cheerful. More than a dozen expectant mothers have gathered in the shade under the center’s veranda, chatting and laughing as they await their prenatal checkups and a demonstration on the IMA Safe Motherhood Kit™.
“Safe Motherhood Kits are very useful,” says Claudine, the head nurse at Boo Nsuba, displaying a stash of kits in the delivery room cabinet. “We use them for every birth.” Each Safe Motherhood Kit™ contains a set of clean and sterile supplies to help prevent infection, a common cause of illness and death for new mothers in the Congo.
The Boo Nsuba Health Center manages between 30 and 50 deliveries each month, and the staff is grateful to have these essential supplies on hand. Though they have easy access to sterile gloves and gauze, the health center relies on Safe Motherhood Kits™ to supply the rest of the items. Nurse Claudine says they especially appreciate the sterile umbilical tie, the plastic sheet—which creates a barrier to help prevent contamination—and the soap and washcloth. She explains that as soon as a woman arrives at the clinic in labor, she is asked to take a shower to ensure the cleanest birth possible.
The health center has even managed to find resourceful alternative uses for some of the kit items. Nurse Claudine explains that the absorbent underpads are sometimes used as maternity maxi pads, which can be hard to find in the Congo, and any leftover sterile scalpels are saved and used for male circumcisions. During the Safe Motherhood Kit™ demonstration, the mothers are especially excited about the kit’s baby clothes. In addition to being endearingly small, the baby hat, pajamas and blanket also help to keep the newborn warm in those important hours after delivery, and they serve as a special gift that encourages women to deliver at the health center with a Safe Motherhood Kit™ and help from a trained nurse rather than at home.
Back in the Boo Nsuba maternity ward, first-time mother Kibete proudly shows off her healthy baby girl, snuggled into her new Safe Motherhood Kit™ outfit. Kibete hasn’t decided on a name, but then again her daughter is only four hours old, and they’ve had a long morning. Both look peaceful and content as they rest and recover side-by-side on the cot. “The women here are very happy to have Safe Motherhood Kits™,” says Nurse Claudine as she walks through the maternity ward, visiting each mother and baby. “They even use the plastic bag to take the reusable items home.”
IMA Safe Motherhood Kits™ are provided by generous donations from individuals, churches, service clubs and other private donors. You can provide an entire kit for a gift of just $25.
A pastor from a local Presbyterian church, IMA World Health is close partners with recounts seeing the Safe Motherhood Kits™ in action in Eastern DR Congo.
Two women were due to give birth at a hospital in DR Congo but unfortunately there weren’t enough beds available. The plastic sheeting found in IMA’s Safe Motherhood Kits™ saved the day for these two mothers and their babies. It was used to create a clean and sterile surface when the same bed needed to be used by the second mother directly after the first mother gave birth.
Our Safe Motherhood Kits™ contain essential clean and sterile supplies that will help reduce the risk of child birth-related infection for expectant mothers in developing countries ravaged by war, poverty and disaster. Each kit contains sterile gloves, umbilical tie, scalpel, and gauze pads, plastic sheeting, bar of soap, washcloth and baby hat, blanket and outfit.
Thanks to your support we have been able to deliver much needed Safe Motherhood Kits™ to Haiti, South Sudan, and Eastern DR Congo in the past year. But we still have much work to do and your support can help us prepare and deliver more kits that are needed.
Doesn’t every mother and child deserve a safe birth?
Soon after IMA’s successful “SMK Day” expectant women in Haiti received Safe Motherhood Kits™! They were so thrilled to receive these life-saving kits that contain essential clean and sterile supplies that will help reduce their risk of child birth-related infection. Each kit contained gloves, umbilical tie, scalpel, gauze pads, plastic sheeting, bar of soap, washcloth and baby hat, blanket and outfit. According to the World Health Organization, for every woman who dies in childbirth, 20 more suffer injury, infection or disease.
Thanks to your support we have been able to deliver much needed Safe Motherhood Kits™ to Haiti, South Sudan, and Eastern DR Congo. But we still have much work to do – every minute, a woman dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth.
IMA is happy to announce that we are planning another “SMK Day” for May 3, 2014. We invite and encourage you to help us prepare! Your support can continue to provide Safe Motherhood Kits™ for many mothers and their children in developing countries like Haiti where their maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world.
Doesn’t every mother and child deserve a safe birth?
We greatly appreciate your support and look forward to your ongoing partnership with us as we strive to save more women and children in need around the world.
On Saturday, April 27th, more than 150 people gathered at the warehouse at IMA World Health’s headquarters in New Windsor, Maryland, to volunteer for “SMK Day 2013.” The goal was to pack 4,000 Safe Motherhood Kits™ (SMKs) in four hours.
After a fast-paced morning working in shifts, the volunteers easily surpassed the goal, packing more than 4,300 SMKs with essential clean and sterile birthing supplies. These items included a plastic sheet, an absorbent underpad, surgical gloves, gauze pads, a sterile umbilical tie and scalpel, soap, a washcloth and a baby layette. This set of simple but essential items help to prevent maternal infection and support maternal and newborn child health in developing countries and disaster zones.
When SMK Day assembly lines reached capacity, other volunteers got busy cutting plastic sheeting to size, folding baby blankets and preparing boxes of SMKs for shipment around the world.
In the past year, more than 13,000 SMKs were distributed to IMA partner clinics in Haiti, DR Congo and South Sudan to help reduce maternal mortality.
“What a great group of volunteers,” said Rick Santos, President and CEO of IMA World Health. “We had high schoolers, Rotarians, Kiwanians, local business owners, college students, churches, health care workers and many others – such a diverse group of caring people, all working together to help people in need. We were encouraged by the turnout and the dedication of the community rallying around this project.”
A special thanks to sponsors and volunteers for joining together to make a great impact for expectant mothers and their babies! IMA is already looking forward to next year’s SMK Day.
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