By Vicki Penwell - Executive Director, Mercy In Action
The Midwives of Mercy In Action
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.
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