Sunday, June 6, 2010
I am finally sitting down at my computer with an Internet connection. Wow. It has been a busy 40 hours of networking, absorbing, thinking, "caring, sharing, and daring," as my new friend, Precious, from the South African Ministry of Health would say. I have been cracked open to the global realities of midwifery. We have been talking about decreasing maternal mortality for 2 days. The exhibit hall for Women Deliver, which will host 3000 people, is booth after booth of international organizations that are working to decrease the number of women DYING in childbirth. DYING. Not infant mortality. Not waterbirth. Not VBACs. WOMEN DYING. IN CHILDBIRTH. This is the issue.
I spoke with a man from Nigeria tonight. Nigeria has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. My new friend Josephine, from Rwanda, told me that after the genocide, they had to build midwifery from zero. My friend Sara from Uganda runs a birth clinic where she gets $5 per delivery. My heart is cracked wide to the realities of the world. These brave women who have come SO FAR to tell their stories and seek help from friendly nations. From Chad, Benin, Uganda, South Africa, Nepal, Bhutan, Malawi, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, India, Uruguay, Chile, Burkina Faso, Sudan. And those are only the ones I am remembering. 40 to 50 countries were represented.
I walked around the exhibit hall and slowly became overwhelmed. Booth after booth told the story of women dying in birth and how each organization was going to tackle the problem. By the time I got through the exhibit hall, I could barely breath. When I sat down, I was crying.
The symposium has been a success on many levels. But Sara from Uganda asks me, what will they do now? What can I expect when I go home? I tell her that tomorrow we will bring that question to the president of the International Confederation of Midwives. I know already in my heart that nothing will change right away. The channels are slow, going through governments and NGOs. The effect "on the ground" will not be felt for perhaps years to come. The Millenium Development Goals are supposed to be reached by 2015. Decreasing maternal mortality by 75%. The pressure is on, and there is hope in the air that much will happen by then.
For now, Sara will go home to her birth clinic-- knowing that she has spoken for the women of Uganda, wondering when change will come.
New friends from South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda