I wanted to tell you about this ministry, Mercy For Mamas, that I came to know last month. They sponsored a dinner for missionary women to encourage and support all those women who are on the frontlines trying to help a few in a sea of so many in need. Their mission really touched my heart. I want to support them by buying their kits and also using them to help the women around me, with the hopes that in showing love and concern I can tell them about Jesus. Much of the information in this post is taken from their site, and I can attest to the love that is behind this ministry after meeting the woman that started it.
How many women die each year giving birth in Uganda?
- On average more than 20 women die every day from pregnancy complications. (see)
- According to UNICEF, 430 women of every 100,000 die from pregnancy or birth complications. That is 33 times the rate in the United States. In a woman’s lifetime, 1 in every 35 will die from a pregnancy/birth complication. And these statistics are estimated to be very low because so many births and deaths do not go reported in Uganda.
How many women have a skilled professional (nurse, trained midwife, doctor) assisting with their birth?
- Only 41% of women give birth with any medical help.
This is where the Maama Kit comes in.
A Mama Kits is an all-in-one kits that contains everything needed to help provide a clean and safe delivery. In order to give birth in most hospitals or clinics in Uganda, you must purchase all of the necessary supplies and bring them with you. If you do not have the supplies you will often be turned away. Many of the women cannot buy the supplies, so they do not seek medical care, which often leads to complications and even death for the mothers and babies. A simple gift of a $7 kit can allow the women to give birth in a hospital or clinic, or if they must give birth at home they have proper sterile supplies. Research has shown that the gift of a mama kit can greatly reduce the number of women dying during childbirth.
Here are the answers to a few of the most common questions:
What is in a mama kit?
- Each mama kit contains plastic sheeting, razor blades, cotton wool (gauze pad), soap, gloves, cord ties, and a child health card. Each kit also includes an instruction sheet in both English and Luganda. All of the supplies are sealed so that they remain sterile until needed
- What happens if a woman does not have a mama kit when she goes into labor?
- If a woman does not have a mama kit when she arrives at a hospital or clinic, she is usually denied help or sent away. Some clinics do offer their own kits for people to purchase, but they cost about $20.
If the women cannot afford a mama kit, how can they afford the hospital?
- In the major cities in Uganda there are government-operated clinics and hospitals that care for people free of charge, if they can afford to purchase the needed supplies.
The mama kits are purchased from a NGO in Uganda called PACE. Each kit costs approximately $7.
- We like the idea of supporting an organization in Uganda and contributing to their economy. It would not be cost-efficient to make kits in the US and ship them. Also, some of the supplies required by hospitals are not easily accessible there, like long rolls of cotton wool.
(visit http://www.mercyformamas.com for more info or to donate to them)
We were all given two kits to give out, and I gave one of my kits to Donny Lee to use when he is talking to Churches and groups in America. I am currently raising money to buy these kits to give out to women in our community. It is amazing to me, coming from America where we don’t think about all the little things we take for granted, that such a small amount of money can go so far to saving lives. Just $7 can mean life or death to a woman and baby. My friend went to the hospital here just to visit the labor and delivery ward, and she came back stunned. Dirty, unorganized, and understaffed. A woman gave birth to a tiny baby, and while the mid-wife was out of the room taking the baby to the NICU (such as it was) the lady delivered another baby, a twin, that just fell to the floor, face down. She hadn’t brought another sheet to wrap that baby because she didn’t know she was having twins. The mid-wife came back and rushed that baby to the NICU but because they only had one oxygen tent and there was already another baby in it, both babies died. Another woman died from infection after having a caesarian because they sewed her intestines up when they closed the incision, her baby most likely died because when the mother was brought in she was so sick she hadn’t been breastfeeding and the hospital wouldn’t give the baby formula because the director wasn’t there. It is a different world here, and hard to understand – hard to see it all around. That is why I feel so strongly about this ministry and the kits so that mother’s have a better chance of getting through the delivery.
The other thing I’ve seen that is really on my heart, and I am trying to see what I can do about it, is providing transportation for women wanting to plan their pregnancies with birth control. They get an injection every 3 months for free at the hospital, but don’t always have the funds for transportation there – $1.50. Then there is the calcium and iron they should take which comes to around $6 every three months. That’s a total of $40/year per person, not much for us but most times they can’t even afford the $4 to get to the hospital. And once the cycle of pregnancy and childbirth come, it keeps going, having 4-5 children and more one right after another. It’s the women who does most of the labor here, planting and harvesting, hauling water where there is clean water to haul, building the fires to cook porridge and beans if they are lucky with their crop. And all this while carrying baby on their back and the oldest child with a baby on their back (sometimes only 5 years old) and caring for the other children. Education isn’t free here, even the government schools, such as they are, have fees so when you have 5+ kids, it’s most likely none will go to school. It’s a rough life, and when I found out how little it takes to help them, Christian and I prayed and felt that our tithes each month would go to that and medical expenses for the children of our workers. We have 16 workers (not full time) and only 3 were on birth control by there own choice and money. So now, all the wives are on it and can plan when they want to have children. I would like to be able to extend this to more than our workers and I am praying for God to show me the way to help many, many women. I ask you to pray with me for all the women and children here, that through helping them, I can show them the love that Jesus has for them.
**I felt I should add – Christian and I are here as part of the organization The Mandate, and everything we do represents them. Part of our mission is to find these types of minstry and support them in any way we can. So when I say “I”, that is the “I” that is part of a bigger “Them”! At this time we are currently helping a school we support to finish their classrooms as dictated by the government – a post on that to come! Mandate is behind me on the above ministries and out there helping to raise funds for them. I just want to be clear on that!
**Edited on 12/15/15 If you would like to donate for either of the above please send to: The Mandate, P.O. Box 6798, Shreveport, LA 71136. Make checks to “The Mandate”. One hundred percent of your donations go to these ministries. Thank you!