Monday, June 7, 2010

Maternal Aid to Africa

I don't know why I haven't blogged about this before; it only seems logical but perhaps the story did not really take hold in my mind until Jennifer on ProWomanProLife wrote about maternal aid in the Congo.

Last month, my husband and I flew to Ottawa for the wedding of our godson Andrew. It was a great time to see old friends and enjoy a lovely warm weekend in Ottawa, plus see our daughter and her family for a day. Always wonderful to see those great grandchildren who are so full of life and such fun to be with.

Check out her blog at Swimming Upstream

At the reception, we sat at a table with couples that we knew well when we lived in Ottawa, plus one couple that we didn't know very well. During the dinner, I came to hear a little about Maryalice's project to fundraise for a "birthing house" in West Africa. Her daughter Shauna is currently in the Gambia, I'm not sure what she is doing exactly but I think it might be teaching. Somehow, the idea began between Shauna and her mother back in Ottawa that it would be good to erect a building for women to have their babies in hygienic conditions and be able to stay for a little while after delivery before returning home. At present, women deliver their babies at home and the conditions are often less than idyllic.

It struck me that this is exactly what people should see when they discuss the maternal aid initiative that Prime Minister Harper is proposing at the upcoming G8 meeting to be held in Canada this July. While he is being scolded by many for not including abortion in his maternal health care plan, Harper is holding firm that abortion will not be included in this aid plan.

Kudos to Prime Minister Harper.

Building a "birthing house" and providing women of the Third World with a safe place to give birth plus some after-birth care is precisely the kind of aid that we in the west should be giving to women in need. NOT bringing them abortion as we have come to think of it - as a woman's right - as a solution to pregnancy. In actuality, what the abortion-supporters want to do is provide the Third World with their version of population control. Why is that those who have the most in life want to take away the most precious gift of life itself from those who have the least? It is not their babies that poor women want to eliminate, it is the unclean and unsafe conditions that come with living in the Third World that they would like to see changed.

I had my first child in Malawi Africa in 1974. I was a fortunate white woman, a "European" as we were called, and I had a doctor plus midwife, and gave birth in a hospital in Mzuzu that was run by the Irish Medical Missionary Sisters. This hospital was 30 miles away from where we lived, 30 miles that took us one hour to reach by landrover over rutted dirt roads that were thick mud in the rainy season.
African women in Nkata Bay, where we lived, were fortunate to have a mother-and-child clinic also run by nuns (these ones from Switzerland) and they were given the best of care that could be provided in those conditions. Because I was a foreigner, I had the ability to go to the hospital where I would have a medical doctor rather than just the midwife at the mother-and-child clinic.

When our daughter was born that night, there were five or six other women in labour, all Africans. It struck both my husband and me that, within 5 years, Rebecca might be the only surviving child out of that group of 6 children. The others were at high risk of dying from measles, malaria, cholera, snakebite, infections, or the effects of malnutrition. Their mothers did not need abortion to lessen the mortality rate; they needed proper care at birth, good nutrition, immunizations for their babies, and most importantly clean water.

The majority of diseases in Africa could be eliminated simply by the supply of clean water and the providing of methods to get rid of human waste so that it does not contaminate their existing water supplies. We have all seen photos of African children with houseflies on their faces; well, that is absolutely the case. Flies abound and they spread disease from person to person, since they feed on dung, garbage and then alight on people and on their food. Finding ways to get rid of human waste would be a major coup in Africa. In the rural villages, the people don't have bathrooms. Going to the bathroom means finding somewhere outside to urinate and defecate. And unless that waste is left somewhere far from the village, it will contaminate the well water as it leaches back into the system.

Perhaps those who wish to provide abortions for African women should think of shit first, sorry to be so blunt.

Anyway, here are some photos of this "birthing house" project in the Gambia - the happy faces speak volumes. Take some time and read Shauna's blog for yourself. If you are interested in supporting this project, email her and ask how to purchase one of her mother's wonderful photos. Maryalice has been taking photos for a year now, and her husband frames them and they sell them to anyone who is interested. All the money raised goes to the "birthing house" and, so far, Maryalice has raised $8000 with her photos. She really is that good.

Birthing House - Shauna Mulally's blog



1 comment:

Elena said...

I don't think that Shauna is teaching. I believe that she is working for an NGO. Wise words on maternal aid.