Thursday, August 27, 2009

These ladies work at Kemapa village, one of the communities that Ganta United Methodist Hospital outreaches to through the Maternal Child Outreach Program supported by UMCOR.

I am a labor and delivery nurse and about two years ago at an employee recognition function one of the hospital security guards relayed his personal story to the group gathered. Perry came to the USA from Liberia a country struggling to rebuild after its 14 year civil war ended in 2004. He lives very modestly, sending home as much of his wages as he can, not only to help his family members, but also to support a small nonprofit organization that he started. He is trying to raise money to educate nurses, build a women’s clinic and a school. Why such great ambition? Perry stated it passionately to the group that stood spellbound by his story – he simply doesn’t want another woman to give birth in the dirt, with just the shade of a tree from the hot African sun, like his mother did.

Having been already engaged in participating and leading medical volunteer in mission teams through the United Methodist Church, I was aware of the struggles that resource poor settings present medical staff on the ground. The teams I lead partner with United Methodist missions on the ground that serves the least – the women and children. Our goal is to empower women through accessibility to healthcare, through learning life skills, and in the process ensuring they survive, thus preventing more children being orphaned embracing the vision of the Global Health Initiative of the United Methodist Church.

In this work, God has revealed to us a world crying out in need and a wonderful opportunity to be instrumental in making birthing kits one of the supply kits that UMCOR collects and sends out from its depots to places around the world. For so many of us there is little desire to travel to places as far away as Africa, however, there is a passionate desire to help. The birthing kit initiative gives everyone the opportunity to save lives. For the cost of a cup of coffee and treat from a local bakery the funds can be used to make a kit. Imagine something you have touched making such a difference to save the life of a baby and a mother.

As a nurse I appreciate having the tools readily available to get my job done. Traditional birthing attendants (TBA) and lay women from village communities are being trained on how to deliver babies using these life saving kits. At the same time, they are receiving further health education that ensures they are knowledgeable as to which women need care at the hospital. The TBAs are excited about the care they are now able to give, and also about their brothers and sisters so far away hearing the cries of the women and children in their community…and just think, one day no woman will give birth in the dirt, with just the shade of a tree from the hot African sun, like Perry’s mother.

By Julie Warren, RN, Ganta United Methodist Hospital, Liberia, and volunteer coordinator for the Central Texas Annual Conference.

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