Saving mothers and babies from dying during childbirth in Darfur - latest update from the field
Childbirth is a dangerous and frightening prospect for young girls in Darfur. There is no health care in the villages of North Darfur. The vast majority are miles from the main towns but even the hospital outside the regional capital, El Fasher, have limited facilities, with virtually no equipment or ways of controlling pain. Girls marry young, and because Female Genital Mutilation is still widespread in remote villages, there is a very high risk of obstructed labour. You may know that when our Founder Patricia Parker asked what help was available, one of the mums-to-be answered: "We have no hospital nearby and no money to pay for health care. There is a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) in our villages. She has survived childbirth, and if there is a problem, she can assist with rope delivery". Can you imagine what a terrifying prospect childbirth must be for these young women? When there is obstructed labour it is imperative that the mother to be gets to hospital in time, but many don't make it.
Kids for Kids midwives are making a lasting difference. We have built a training school for midwives and - funds permitting - we train 40 midwives each year. Our aim is to have 2 midwives in each village, so they can support the community and back each other up when difficult decisions need to be made, such as when to send a complicated case to hospital. Just a few weeks ago we heard of a case where the local TBA was telling a woman who had been pregnant for 12 months that she should continue to wait for nature to take its course. Our Programme Manager Salim told us: "Fortunately the village leaders listened to the midwife and got the patient to hospital just in time. Of course after 12 months something was seriously wrong and she nearly lost her life."
News from our newest midwives: You will be pleased to know that this year's group are nearly ready to graduate! They are really excited to return to their villages and help the women and babies there. They not only help with childbirth but are also vital in advising on early-years nutrition. This is particularly important at this time of year when food has run out and harvests are still 2-3 months away. People are forced to forage and without good advice might feed children with plants like Mukheit that are toxic if not processed correctly. Our midwives are also trained to administer basic drugs such as antibiotics, ensuring that they are used properly and in appropriate dosages. No wonder people are staying in Kids for Kids villages! As one midwife told Patricia "people stay here because they know that with our help they and their children have a better chance."
Your donation makes all the difference!
$35 funds a food tray to keep food clean so that little ones do not become ill
$100 provides the kit a village midwife needs to help her work - including a small tin trunk to keep it safe
$230 funds a solar lantern to help with nighttime deliveries - there is no electricity
$245 provides a strong crossbred donkey to enable a village midwife to get to her patients quickly (donkeys are the only transport)
$612 provides a donkey cart ambulance for emergency cases to get to hospital
$3,050 funds a new midwife in a village
Thank you for your support.
With Ruth Rendell’s funeral taking place last week, we thought you might like to hear about her wonderful work as a Patron of Kids for Kids, and her personal sponsorship of Ibrahim, the 9 year old boy who inspired Patricia Parker MBE to found the charity 14 years ago.
Ruth Rendell was not only a passionate campaigner for the abolition of female genital mutilation (FGM), which is why she supported Kids for Kids, but she was also the personal sponsor of little Ibrahim. Ibrahim’s lonely walk for water, aged just 9, across the desolate deserts of Darfur, was what inspired Patricia Parker MBE, our Founder, to start Kids for Kids.
Ibrahim first went to school age 9 when the charity installed a hand pump in his village in Um Ga’al. 4 years ago, Ibrahim managed to visit the Kids for Kids small office in El Fasher, the regional capital of North Darfur, despite ongoing conflict, to ask the charity if it could help him finish his schooling. Soaring inflation had meant his family could no longer pay even the small fee needed. The constitution of the charity does not allow it to support individuals, but Patricia asked our Patron Ruth Rendell if she might consider helping in some way. Aged 19, Ibrahm re-entered secondary school and graduates this summer thanks to the support of this wonderful lady.
“Ibrahim has found schooling hard going” said Patricia. “Starting school life aged 9 is really tough and Ibrahim has struggled but is determined to get to university if he can. This is why Kids for Kids is doing all it can to provide a Kindergarten in every village. So far we have 4 which are transforming the lives of children in remote regions - unheard of anywhere else in Darfur.”
Ruth Rendell has campaigned successfully in the UK to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM). She believed that the most effective way to achieve this in remote villages was for someone women knew and trusted to advise them. She therefore supported our programme of training village midwives in every Kids for Kids village. Since 2001, Kids for Kids has funded over 150 village midwives in remote communities where there is no other health care. With Ruth Rendell's support for our midwives, the lives of countless mothers and babies have been transformed. Would you like to help equip our midwives in the 8 new villages we are adopting in 2015?
$62 provides a goat for milk for hungry babies
$230 buys a solar lantern for night time deliveries
$245 provides a strong cross-bred donkey so midwives can reach patients quickly
$612 provides a donkey ambulance to help mothers and babies in distress get to hospital
$3050 trains a midwife to help a whole community, saving lives and teaching hygiene
Every penny goeas a long way in Darfur. Thank you for your support.
Midwives training progressing well - Thank You!
Last time we wrote, the new group of midwives were just about to start their training. Here is the latest from the training school in El Fasher. Our local programme leader tells us: "It is always very encouraging to watch these women progress. Those ladies who were illiterate are now well on the way to being able to read and write. All 40 midwives this season are working very hard, showing great dedication to their studies. Four of the new recruits have already assisted with a birth, and all four mothers produced healthy babies."
In Darfur, there is no healthcare in the villages. Young women get married early and face the prospect of childbirth with a traditional birth attendant who has had no training - not even the basics of hygiene and first aid. With FGM (female genital mutilation) widespread in the region, there is a high risk of obstructed labour, and in difficult cases rope delivery is the only help. Permanent damage to mother and child are common and many do not survive. Our CEO Patricia says "I can't begin to imagine how fearful these mothers must feel as the time approaches for their children to be born."
Kids for Kids has been training midwives since 2002 and these amazing women are saving lives. Our partnership approach with the Health Authority in El Fasher, the regional capital of North Darfur, means the training school we built there is well respected. We pay half the cost per midwife with the State Ministry of Health paying the other half, which demonstrates the local commitment to providing better care, and results in respect and recognition for the midwives who qualify. We also provide our midwives with the absolute essentials - their medical kit, a solar lantern for night time deliveries, and a strong cross-bred donkey to reach patients further away, strong enough to pull the 'ambulance' to reach help quickly in an emergency. They are very proud of their white uniform (a sari or tobe made of cotton) but especially love their leather sandals! Midwives tell us that people stay in their villages now, because they know they have a better chance.
When our midwives return to their villages they will be amongst the most respected people in their communities. Kids for Kids' midwives are trained in baby care too. Many mothers in desperation feed their babies unsuitably and some die because they cannot digest properly. Because they are local women, respected in their own communities, their teaching of the dangers of FGM is believed and in our villages it is a dying tradition.
Can you help us equip this season's new trainees and save more women and babies in Darfur?
$3,050 pays for the full training of one midwife to save lives and teach hygiene, including her kit, uniform and leather sandals. You will know you are saving many babies from premature death, and many young mothers from the risk of fistula.
$612 buys a donkey ambulance to help women in labour get to hospital quickly
$245 pays for a strong cross-bred donkey to help a midwife reach her patient quickly
$230 supplies a midwife with a solar lantern for night time deliveries
Every penny helps, and your gift goes a long way in Darfur.
Thank you for your support!
In a few weeks, our next cohort of village midwives will leave their villages for their 10 months training course and return as fully trained midwives. They are picked to attend the course because of their commitment to helping their community and all have agreed that they will remain in the village for a minimum of four years.
For 14 years, Kids for Kids has been providing basic help right at the heart of the communities that need it. The difference that the Village Midwives make is incalculable. In 18 months alone the charity’s midwives delivered 1057 healthy babies - including twins - and not one mother died in childbirth. The midwives were successful too in referring expectant mothers to the distant hospital if they were worried about complications - and all were safely delivered of healthy babies! There are already 108 trained Kids for Kids' village midwives working in remote villages.
Kids for Kids was asked to share the cost of funding a training school with the State Department of Health. This ensures the support of the Government. The training provided at this new school is unrivalled and Examiners come from Khartoum to invigilate.
Kids for Kids is showing that by providing a midwife who is known and trusted, encourages mothers not to continue the practise of FGM, either for themselves or for their daughters. Despite being banned by the Government of Sudan FGM is still widespread. Our midwives are convincing women in the Kids for Kids' villages to ban the practise.
Our policy is to provide two villages midwives in each village. There is no other support for these brave women who may have to face the difficult situation of someone they know dying during childbirth. With two trained midwives to hand they are able to reinforce the trust the communities have learnt to place in them. The volunteers who are selected by the full community in each Kids for Kids village, to become Village Midwives, are chosen because they are bright, honest and dedicated. They also commit to staying in the village for a minimum of four years once they are trained. Many are young women who have young children who will be looked after whilst they are away. The course is very tough. The trainee girls are expected to work six days a week. They are not allowed out of the Midwives Training Compound unescorted. Some may be illiterate but will have been chosen because they are known to be intelligent. They will be taught to read and write at the start of the course. This has been hugely successful and gives new hope, not only to the women who will now have a trusted midwife close at hand, but also the newly trained midwife's family. They have a future at last.
Thank you for supporting this crucial project. Our next cohort of midwives has been selected by their communities to go to our training school in El Fasher to complete the 10 month intensive training. They will arrive in a matter of weeks.
40 women, of all ages, have been chosen by their communities as outstanding - honest, and caring young women. This empowers the women and they return to their communities, fully trained and with new respect from their peers. Part of their training agreement states that they will stay within their village for at least two more years.
One or two of those selected are already will be Traditional Birth Attendants determined to improve the care they give already, but most are older, traditionalists. The incredible thing about Kids for Kids midwives is that, not only does it provide really excellent midwives - and former ones have a superb record for childbirth itself saving many lives, but they also teach ante and post natal care, and feeding the babies - particularly challenging when mothers themselves often have little milk because they have such a poor diet. This is even more of a problem currently as mothers cannot afford to feed existing children so will go without food themselves. Our midwives teach peers in their own communities about nutrition during the pre and post natal stages so that the baby can have the very best start in life. Hearing such information from someone you trust makes a huge difference to a vulnerable new mother.
Wonderfully too is that Kids for Kids midwives, having the confidence of the village already, are first class at discouraging people to practise Female Genital Mutilation. This practise alone causes death or permanent damage to young girls. FGM has long been ignored by the wider global community but now it has become a significant problem that world leaders have committed to trying to eradicate completely. Kids for Kids midwives have been leading the way in this subject for many years now in Darfur. It costs £2,000 to train one midwife and more are desperately needed. Can you help?
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