By Dr. Irene Mbugua, Project Coordinator for Maternal, Newborn, & Child Health for World Vision in East Africa

If you want to see the face of strength and salience, look into the face of an African mother.

I am proud to say that I am an African mother of three boys. My journey through pregnancy and childbirth was one of the most joyful experiences of my life, but for some of my fellow African mothers, it’s the most challenging.

Globally, more than 1.5 million children die each year from birth complications either before or after childbirth, because mothers and their children do not have access to healthcare.

Safe Birthing for Every Mother

During my pregnancy, I worked with a healthcare provider on preparing a birthing plan, and all my children were born in a hospital with the help of a skilled birth attendant. Sadly, this is considered a “luxury” for many women in East Africa.

In Kenya, World Vision found that more than 70 percent of women in the Bamba region deliver at home, because most of the women had to walk more than 3 miles to reach the nearest health facility. For the women who do travel to a clinic, there are often too few health care workers or basic drugs and medical supplies.

No mother should die in the process of giving life, and no child should die before he or she has a chance at life.

A Mother’s Voice

My role as a mother is what motivates my role as maternal and child health worker at World Vision where I work with communities providing healthcare education, training community health workers and helping them advocate for healthcare services.

Empowering women to use their voices is key. By enabling women in the communities to be vocal about their health needs, I’ve seen communities mobilize to demand action, and our government and community leaders are realizing the need to address these challenges and strengthen health and community systems.

Mothers in Africa are very resilient. We need fellow mothers to walk beside us on this journey. I have felt the joy of holding my children in my arms, breastfeeding them and guiding them through life.

This kind of joy should be experienced by every woman.

What You Can Do

Join the Beyond 5 Team today for the online social screening of the film, “Welcome To The World.”

The film shares some of the conditions in which women around the world are forced to give birth. It also looks at the life chances of the babies who are fortunate enough to survive childbirth. This film shows the brutal implications of the ongoing inequality of poor women’s access to healthcare.

Learn more about World Vision’s initiatives to help reduce maternal and infant deaths, and decrease the number of women suffering from illness as a consequence of pregnancy and childbirth.

Have your questions answered by Lisa Bos, World Vision’s health and education policy advisor, who will be joining us live from Washington D.C.

Join the Online Screening Today

Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:30pm ET/10:30am PT online at “Welcome to the World.”

Please note: This film contains mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.

Photo: Gladness Samwel, 34, with her 8-month-old son Junior Joseph Njole © 2012 World Vision/ photo by Desta Laiser

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