Midwives Natarsha Jazepczyk (left) and Vicki Chan with mother Dorothy and her new baby Amos at the Fremo Medical Clinic in Nairobi.
Midwives Natarsha Jazepczyk (left) and Vicki Chan with mother Dorothy and her new baby Amos at the Fremo Medical Clinic in Nairobi. Contributed

Letting women know someone cares

WHAT can you buy for $1.50? A Mars Bar, a packet of chips, maybe a can of Coca-Cola.

But that $1.50 could spell the difference between life and death for a mother about to give birth in Africa.

Buderim midwife and mother-of-four Vicki Chan has spent years at the bedsides of mothers prepared to spend thousands on voluntary caesareans to avoid the discomfort of childbirth.

All the time, she lived with the knowledge that on the other side of the world was another mother giving birth, but dying for the sake of $1.50.

“In Kenya, one in 27 women die in childbirth, in Nigeria that number is one in seven,” Ms Chan said.

“Half of these women wouldn't die with treatment that costs just $1.50. It is so bloody unfair, some have so much while the rest have so little.”

Ms Chan felt drawn to Africa since she was a child, but it was only after reading an article in the Daily earlier this year about Natarsha Jazepczyk and her volunteer work in Kenya, that she was inspired into action.

She has now traded the comforts of her Buderim home and working conditions at Selangor Hospital for the slums of the Kenyan capital Nairobi where she has joined Ms Jazepczyk at the Fremo Medical Centre

Together, they are helping create a safe place for women to seek pregnancy, birth and post-partum care.

The Kawangare slum where the medical centre is based is an informal settlement with its inhabitants living on less than $1 per day in makeshift shanties without access to public health services, piped water, or a sewage system.

“Due to poverty, overcrowding, crime, and unemployment, living conditions are poor. HIV/AIDS, TB, water-borne diseases and malaria are commonplace, and maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity high,” Mrs Chan said.

“I am the mother of four, a midwife and a teacher of midwives and am committed to supporting the creation of a safe place for women to seek pregnancy, birth, and post-partum care in Kenya.”

Apart from paying for all her travel and board expenses and raising funds to help the mothers and the babies, Mrs Chan also filled her bags with clothes for the babies.

And she's taken an unexpected bonus – a $5000 grant from superannuation fund Sunsuper to help pay the wages of two midwives for a year at the birthing centre.

“This will let them know that people somewhere in the world care about them,” Mrs Chan said.


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