Imagine if you arrived at hospital in labour, but instead of being rushed into a ward or delivery room, you were turned away because you hadn’t bought your own disposable gloves or scalpel. Without them the hospital won’t help you.
It’s an almost impossible scenario to imagine happening here in Australia. We have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, a fact I can attest to after witnessing facilities in Northern Uganda where women are turned away from healthcare clinics without the aforementioned items, no matter what condition they are in. The facilities are so simple, they don’t even have plastic gloves, so attendants run the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV, and it’s a risk they aren’t willing to take. No gloves, no service.
And if you live hand-to-mouth, reliant on the ground you toil for your food, chances are, you don’t have any spare money lying around to buy the basic things you need to give birth. Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable moments in a human life; both for the mother and the new baby. It’s almost unimaginable to think that a few basic items would prohibit someone from having some assistance during birth.
But here’s the thing; all it takes are seven items to save and protect their lives. Seven items so simple that they cost about the price of a few blocks of chocolate or cups of coffee: soap, gloves, a plastic sheet to lie on, clean gauze, a scalpel to cut the umbilical cord, string to tie the umbilical cord and a little wrap for the baby to protect against hyperthermia.
Alice Achan, a local Northern Ugandan woman, is a friend of C3 Church. She runs programs to empower and educate girls and women through education, health programs and raising awareness about gender-based violence. Her and her team are working within poor communities to educate young girls and their families about the importance of getting an education and avoiding falling pregnant as a teenager.
We have partnered with her to provide Birthing Kits to young women who cannot afford the practical necessities to give birth in a government clinic.
What’s in the kit?
The kit contains seven items; soap, gloves, a plastic sheet to lie on, clean gauze, a scalpel to cut the umbilical cord, string to tie the umbilical cord and a little wrap for the baby to protect against hypothermia.
“These birthing kits are very important,” Lucy, a midwife at the clinic tells me. “Government clinics are lacking in basic things like gloves and plastic sheets. So we give mothers the birthing kits in the outreach programs because with them they will be able to have a clean, safe and attended birth in the clinic.”
Lucy explains that although the birthing kits cost the equivalent of $7, it is nearly impossible for these mothers to be able to buy them. A humbling thought when you considered how frivolously we would spend $7 on our morning latte and bliss ball.
Alongside the outreach initiatives, the team provides education around maternal health and family planning. Because adolescent pregnancy rates are high they want to reduce the number of young girls getting pregnant. Instead they want to see more girls complete secondary school, go on to become business owners, teachers or nurses, marry later, have children later (and fewer) and escape the cycle of poverty.
So as each kit is handed out, the team will also reach out a hand of support and hope for the young mother and her baby. Too many young girls suffer in childbirth and without the support of their communities. We hope that through the work of CCF and with the gift of a birthing kit, the young women of Northern Uganda will receive the love and support they need as they give birth to the next generation. A generation who will value education and believe in an equal future for all.
These kits can change everything.
C3 Church Sydney has partnered with Christian Counselling Fellowship (CCF) in Uganda, and in May 2017, provided over 1000 birth kits to young women in need. If you would like to contribute to this incredible cause please head to birthingkits.raisely.com.