A TBA who stopped female genital circumcision
Childbirth customs embedded in the Afar culture in Ethiopia are killing their women.
With your help we are opening the eyes of the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) and for the first time in their lives many are seeing how their traditional customs were causing great pain with many of their women and babies dying unnecessarily.
Thank you for making our training program a success.
In terms of their awareness on health, well-being and in particular maternal health, few of them view life any differently than their ancient predecessors.
The Dullassa community has a total population of nearly 21,000. They are agro-pastoralists and around 70% pastoralists. Their land is the foot-hills of the southern Ethiopian Highlands. The region is inaccessible during the rainy season and in a country with limited health and education capacity the communities are isolated and least assisted. Through a literacy program the TBAs and women are becoming empowered to understand why they must stop their harmful birthing practices.
The BKFA is half way through it latest literacy and training program in Dullassa. Our partner, the Afar Pastoralist Development Association’s (APDA), has reported showing that 4270 birthing kits have been made and distributed and 8010 people have had counselling over many topics from HIV prevention, health, hygiene, sanitation, stopping female genital mutilation, pre and post natal visits and childbirth.
40 TBAs have received annual refresher training asserting that they have stopped 6 harmful practices that injure in the birthing process and that they are performing clean deliveries as well as referring mothers at risk.
There is an earnest need to reach out to more in the community that the awareness can be put into agreed community practice to act for the well-being of the mother and the child. APDA's method of approach is continual relationship with the community through trained community members who daily perform awareness, counselling, Afar literacy teaching along with a community dialogue that is led through the trained community religious and clan leadership. This has achieved communities that have stopped the horrific practice of female genital infibulations and have reverted to a 'lesser' practice of removing part of the clitoris. The former practice actually seals the vagina so it is a minute opening and covers the urethra so that urine is passed with great difficulty leaving the female in constant urinary retention, difficulty in passing menstrual blood and fear of marriage and intercourse.
The other practices that harm in the birthing process include closing the mother's infibulation scar after the birth; preventing her from consuming more than a minimal water and food in labor for fear of 'tipping this on the baby's head' in belief that the uterus and the bladder join; cutting the pulsating cord transversely once the baby has been born to bleed the mother as much as possible; not breast-feeding until 24 to 72 hours after the birth and not washing the mother and babe after the initial wash for another 7 days until the celebration of a slaughter of a goat. The dangers here are clearly both life-threatening and debilitating for mother and baby.
Then through aware and trained traditional birth attendants; women extension workers who mentor them as well as keep constant awareness in the community; literacy that empowers all stakeholders to lift themselves out of mystical thinking to reality and the local religious leaders directing dialogue in the community, change is emerging.
For Afar women childbirth was especially dangerous.
Thank you for making it much safer for a few communities. Your continued donations will help many more Afar women and babies.
An Afar grandmother with her grandchild