My heart is torn in two directions as I visit my friend Jhun who lives on the local landfill. I am saddened by the conditions that she lives in and the poverty that surrounds her, and yet I am uplifted as I see her living out her choice to choose joy in the midst of adversity.
Jhun spends her days rummaging through trash, hoping to find bottles, cans or plastic to be recycled. She spends her whole day outside toiling in the relentless sun and heat. If she is able to make the equivalent of 1USD she considers it a successful day and she is able to buy some rice and vegetables and possibly a bit of fish for her children’s dinner.
I met Jhun when I was going door to door passing out children’s vitamin’s that were donated by a generous group of naturopathic physicians. She is now coming to our clinic for prenatal care and plans to deliver in our clinic as well. This is her fifth pregnancy and it will be the first time she has a trained birth attendant to assist her during her time of need.
I know the numbers well. I share them with others when teaching about the desperate need for more midwives around the world. But the numbers become real when you have a lady standing before you. When you have seen her home and played with her children.
Jhun came to the clinic severely anemic and I am so thankful for the donations that have allowed us to stock iron as well as prenatal vitamins. With a steady supply of iron and education about natural sources of iron, Jhun was able to dramatically raise her hemoglobin, which will greatly reduce her risk of excessive bleeding at the time of delivery. This is important because hemorrhage is the number one cause of maternal mortality in countries such as the Philippines. I am so thankful that we were able to help keep Jhun from becoming part of that statistic. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the sheer need surrounding me.
Then I am comforted as I remember the words of Mother Teresa, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you. “
Please consider supporting the work that we are doing here in the Philippines. We are making a difference with maternal health and newborn survival one good birth at a time.
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***(Names have been changed to protect the women's privacy)
Prenatal day at the clinic.