Learning Up Close & Personal with MAMA in Kenya
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Global Force for Healing visited an emerging Kenya-based NGO called MAMA (Maternal Aid for Africa) in July to explore the possibility of MAMA joining the Compassionate Birth Network. MAMA has begun to lay the groundwork for maternal and newborn health education in a very remote and underserved area of Western Kenya, home to the Pokot ethnic group. Our Board member Dr. Cindy Stein is a Certified Nurse Midwife with a Masters in Public Health, a PhD in Nursing, and extensive global experience. She joined a team of Kenyan midwives and others to present basic maternal-child health training alongside traditional birth attendants (TBAs) who assist local women and newborns in childbirth.
The Pokot people are pastoralists who live in a drought-prone region and have a reputation for fierceness. Female circumcision is still practiced. Women & girls are responsible for all work related to the home, children, and smaller livestock, while men tend the cattle. It is a dangerous place to be female, and most children don’t receive an education.
Cindy formed a fast friendship with a courageous, educated Pokot woman who came along to translate. Noella is fiercely dedicated to bringing health services and education to other Pokot women and girls. Winnie Chelagat, MAMA’s Executive Director, is another courageous young Kenyan determined to share information on childbirth and make referrals to two health facilities far from these remote villages. Helping women plan births and assess in advance their risks for complications would dramatically reduce maternal and newborn deaths.
Cindy’s experiences over several days in east Pokot are in stark contrast to her time in central Uganda with Network Partner Sunrise Centre/Grace Medical and Maternity, which has a well established community clinic and midwifery-led maternity wing. See our August 7th blog below for a brief summary of Dr. Stein's experiences.