Lifesaving Story from Bangladesh Birth Center: Through the Eyes of a Midwife

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Hope Foundation for Women & Children of Bangladesh Update by Guest Blogger Jennifer Burns, CNM, MSN (volunteer at new remote birth centers)

ruralbirthcenter banner BanglaBirth centers with midwifery care are a key component to addressing maternal & neonatal morbidity and mortality around the world. Improving access to skilled maternity care is the only way to directly change outcomes in developing countries. Hope Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh has opened four birth centers in remote communities. The model is simple and effective, with one midwife, one midwife assistant and three field workers. They begin with door to door surveys and communication with community leaders about midwifery and birth center care. Field workers are on the front lines connecting with the community to help change a culture, with the goal of improving outcomes for women & children of each community.


BanglaeshMothersClub bannerAnother key component is the monthly Mother’s Club meetings. The midwives and field workers gather women of the community and provide structured education on topics ranging from family planning to breastfeeding. This grassroots style is connecting the women of the community and providing them with a support network and information to make informed decisions about their health care. The groups are guided with love and compassion, transforming each woman and her community.

Jennifer with Local Staff

The options in most rural communities for birth are limited to traditional birth attendants. TBAs attend up to 90% of the births in these areas. Unfortunately, many have no formal medical training, which results in high rates of preventable maternal & infant mortality and in Bangladesh, unacceptably high rates of fistula.

Bangla.mama+newbornThere are moments of clarity when working in developing countries. One that profoundly moved me involved a young woman who came to the birth center in labor. Upon arrival she was bleeding and had a fever. She had been laboring at home for quite awhile and walked over an hour to reach the birth center. The midwife identified the fever and bleeding, and immediately began treatment. The birth was imminent and thanks to her training, she knew exactly what to do. The baby was at least 5 weeks preterm but was born alive and breastfed well. The mother received loving, compassionate midwifery care and potentially life-saving medications for her bleeding and infection. I will never forget looking in her eyes as she held her new baby, thinking to myself, “What would have happened to her three months ago prior to this birth center opening?” Luckily, with the dedication of the Hope Foundation we will never know.Hope baby



Welcoming Amy Marowitz to Our Circle of Advisors!

One of the joys of the 2017 Birth Center Symposium in Haiti was meeting other dedicated birth workers and educators employing the midwifery model of care, including Amy Marowitz, DNP, CNM. Amy has graciously agreed to join our Circle of Advisors! Please see her bio below. Welcome, Amy!

Amy Marowitz is a Certified Nurse Midwife and an Associate Professor at Frontier Nursing University (FNU) in the Department of Midwifery and Women’s Health. She has 15 years of experience in full scope midwifery in and out of the hospital including a high volume practice with the Indian Health Service, and a smaller hospital owned practice for women on Medicaid. She began teaching at FNU in 1994, has taught Antepartum and Intrapartum Care, and now coordinates the Intrapartum course series.

Amy has published and presented on varied Intrapartum topics, including midwifery management of slow labor, management of pre-labor rupture of membranes at term, care of women in early labor, and waterbirth. She has a passion for Global Midwifery, has made several volunteer trips to Haiti, and has designed a Midwifery Curriculum for use in Haiti based on ICM (International Confederation of Midwives) core competencies.

Amy has a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies with a concentration in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. Louis University, a Master of Science with a Certificate in Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Oakland University.

Buiga Baby Boom!

Buiga mama:newborn April '17This April has seen a huge increase in babies born at Grace Medical Clinic in central Uganda–a four-fold increase over last month! This is thanks in part to an exciting new outreach program employing village mothers to encourage their neighbors to deliver at Sunrise Centre’s maternity facility. Below is a photo of the first village outreach by midwife Christine and “Village Mothers”, a program partially supported by Global Force for Healing.

Buiga village outreach2mamas The new program is led by Clinical Director Irene Wobusobozi and supervised by Buiga Director, Nicole Van Seters. It has created quite a buzz in the six villages, with red t-shirts identifying women as “Village Mothers”, with “Maternity Outreach” on the back. Here are photos of a recent Village Mother training and staff gathering. More good news: To accommodate the larger volume of births, donors from Iceland have pledged funds to build an additional room onto the maternity area by Summer! For more information or to donate to this incredible nonprofit: 4-6-17 Buiga

Buiga staff-com.&clinictraining Buiga 4.17

Welcome, Maison de Naissance (Haiti)!

In the Midst of the StormGBHF Logo

A new partner with Global Force for Healing is Global Birthing Home Foundation, which supports a birthing center, Maison de Naissance, in the small SW rural community of Torbeck, Haiti. Almost 5,000 babies have been born at the center since opening in 2004, with zero maternal deaths (

Last October, Hurricane Matthew made a direct hit on Maison de Naissance. It withstood the storm, but not without severe damage to the power and water systems, and with every large tree on the grounds blown down. Through it all, the birthing center kept functioning, and it even became a temporary shelter for several weeks for as many as 150 people. Throughout it all, babies were still delivered and mothers and babies received essential care.

It took over 3 months and 4 relief trips to get all the systems functioning at full capacity, and during this time, the staff kept the clinic functioning even if a baby needed to be born by candlelight.

MN photo 1 of 2Rosena Baptiste, the Directrice, and Jim Grant, Executive Director of Global Birthing Home Foundation, made food relief distributions to the local community 4 times, as this very rural area was overlooked by the international relief agencies.

The harsh effects of Hurricane Matthew still linger for those served by Maison de Naissance. Recently, a pregnant woman shared, “I have lost my animals, a goat and a cow. My house has broken down and now I am living in a sort of tent that leaks.” Yet, she shares how Maison de Naissance has helped with prenatal care and vitamins, “It has helped a lot!”

Jim returned after his 4th relief trip in early January, working to finalize repairs, and reflect on how vital this oasis of healthcare is to the surrounding community: “We have always been very proud of the fact that we could offer modern, professional, and high quality maternal health care services in region where such services were either inaccessible or unaffordable. We never expected to operate as a relief shelter and services provider, but again, our community had nowhere else to turn. When asked by USAID if we could provide security for a distribution of cooking and hygiene supplies from the birth center, I replied, ‘We have been staging food and water relief operations out of Maison de Naissance since the hurricane, and our security comes from the trust we have built within the community’. They delivered the supplies that week, and everyone pitched in to ensure an orderly distribution of the goods.” Jim Grant, Executive Director

To contact Maison de Naissance:

Birth Story from Uganda: Twins

A woman from a distant, remote village came to Grace Family Clinic for prenatal care.  She was in her third trimester and near her delivery date, yet this was her first visit.  When the midwife examined her, she found 2 heartbeats.  She explained to the mother that she needed an ultra sound to confirm twins.  The husband resisted – he was concerned about the cost (we do not have ultrasound equipment at Sunrise Centre) but after much persuasion from our staff, he finally accepted.  

The mother returned two days later with the ultrasound results, which confirmed twins and revealed one baby was underweight.  The mother had not taken any prenatal or iron supplements and her diet was restricted due to lack of money.  Sunrise advised the mother to deliver at a bigger hospital as her pregnancy was at high risk for complications that we are not equipped to handle, but the husband refused. He was worried about the high cost (up to 2 months salary).  He said they would get a Traditional Birth Attendant from the village.

The mother came back to the clinic one week later in advanced labour after trying to deliver at home.  Grace Family Health Centre took her in and provided her with the compassionate care.  She delivered both babies, one was  2.6 kilos the other only 1.5 kilos., however after delivering she had post part hemorrhaging.  The midwives gave her oxytocin and then misoprostol but could not stop the bleeding.  An ambulance was called and our midwife accompanied the mother and twins to the nearest hospital, however they did not have blood for a transfusion so turned them away.  They continued to a second hospital but with the same result…no blood.  The situation was deteriorating, the smallest baby passed away and the mother was also slipping away.  The midwife continued to care for the second baby and begged the mother to hold on.

They arrived at the third hospital and thankfully were admitted.  The mother and surviving twin were stabilized, given a transfusion and survived. The father came to take the smallest baby for burial but was very thankful to have his wife and daughter in good hands. There was sadness but also celebration.

While we mourn with the family and Grace Clinic staff, we also join you in celebrating the miracle of saving the mama and one of the twins! Thanks to Nicole Van Seters for another empowering story from the field! With love as the force, Kay

Giving Thanks for the Birth of Joy

Success Story: Baby Joy (see photo courtesy of Sunrise Centre/Nicole VanSeters)

A 19 year old girl named Ruth came to our Grace Family Medical clinic in central Uganda to deliver.  Her husband abandoned her after finding that she was pregnant.  Her mother, who is elderly, was taking care of her but had very little money.  They could not afford to purchase a birth kit and came with no supplies.  They had tried another clinic but had been turned away because they could not pay.

Ruth was in full labour so Grace Family Health Centre welcomed her and provided her with everything she needed.  The delivery went smoothly with no complications and Ruth delivered a healthy baby girl, whom she named Joy, because she delivered well and they were happy to have her.  Grandmother, mother and daughter were very grateful to Sunrise.   Baby Joy was immunized, Momma was given postnatal care and lactation counseling, and advised to return for future care.  

Congratulations to Mama, Baby Joy and to the Sunrise Centre team!!!

Beyond Red & Blue: You Are My Favorite Color!


My 3-year-old granddaughter and I have a game where we ask, “What’s your favorite color”? Lately her favorite and mine has been blue. This past Sunday night she said her favorite color is red. (She had earlier told me her other grandma’s favorite color is red). Without making me wrong for preferring blue she said, “Gramma K, YOU are my favorite color!” That’s how my new mantra was born: “YOU ARE MY FAVORITE COLOR!”

The significance for the US election only occurred to me later as I saw the electoral map filled in with red and blue. Will you join me in going beyond color or party affiliation, to unity in diversity as Gandhi said? If not now, then when? If not us, then whom?Multiracial Hands Making a Circle

“But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of LOVE that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s never too late for miracles, and the timing would never be better!

Ashland Compassion Tour a Success!


David and Tour Co-sponsors

Ashland was the 16th stop on David Breaux’s two-year North American journey. Global Force for Healing was joined by co-organizers Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) and Unity in Ashland. Collectively we made it possible for five diverse faith/spiritual communities, two radio stations, the Ashland Library, Bloomsbury Bookstore, and ACPC participants to have meaningful conversations on compassion.

David continued his regular practice of standing on one street corner and asking passersby for their concepts of compassion. He estimated 30% of people he approached wrote their concepts in the notebook he keeps. This practice began in Davis, California and resulted in the book Compassion, Davis, CA (2010).tctbloomsbury2


To learn more about the Ashland Tour experience feel free to contact . For more about David or the Tour: compassionis.comThis community-wide experience highlighted our “mission in action” in Ashland. Stay tuned for future initiatives!db-rabbi-joshua


Local Laundry Love: Clean Comfort and Community

“If I had clean clothes, I think people would treat me like a human being.” With this statement the nationwide movement called “LAUNDRY LOVE” was launched in southern California in 2004. To date 450,000 people have been cared for and 600,000 loads of laundry have been done.laundry-love-potluck

The idea is simple yet profound: To provide quarters for a local laundromat while sharing conversation and homemade soup with folks for whom the cost of clean clothes is unaffordable. Many of the regular guests are without a home and are deeply appreciative of this act of kindness. Says Kate W, “This is awesome because it’s so expensive to wash clothes. It feels like community here…It’s a family feeling.”

In Ashland, Oregon First Congregational United Church of Christ (“UCC”) practices “laundry love” the second Saturday of each month. Volunteers have found that the $500 monthly investment from collecting quarters from church members, epitomizes love and compassion in action. Says church volunteer Alex Reid, “It levels the playing field. We have great conversations with women folding their clothing…We talk about life, marriage, how to raise children, who you’re voting for. They’re very grateful. I’ve had people give me their last crumpled-up dollar and tell me to pass it to the next person.” (excerpted from Ashland Daily Tidings, October 17, 2016, page 3).laundry-love-alex

When I use the washer and dryer in my garage I am even more grateful for the luxury of clean clothes and towels, and happy when a neighbor or friend borrows my washer and dryer. “Laundry love” indeed! For more information and inspiration:

What not-so-random act of kindness inspires you today? “Since you get more joy out of giving to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.” Eleanor RooseveltMultiracial Hands Making a Circle