The sprawling group of buildings stood before us - part of East Africa's largest national hospital. In Canada, this is where you would hope to be referred to if you had any concerns about the birth of your baby. Here - with approximately 35,000 women delivering each year - 10 times the average back home - your chance for survival would very likely become worse. Overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, exhausted staff and a dire lack of equipment, beds and drugs can form a deadly combination for moms in distress.
We were here to see the distressing conditions which we had heard so much about. But we were also here because a 19 year old mom had lost her life giving birth the night before. It was a pregnancy her own mother didn't know about until she received the call telling her that her daughter was dead. The girl was expecting twins, but because she didn't receive any pre-natal care, no one knew. They also didn't know about her skyrocketing blood pressure... until she complained of a headache and passed out. By the time she was referred to the main hospital and rushed into surgery, her fight to survive had ended.
Now the battle was on to save her twins - one at 1.8 kg and the other at 2.1. As we rushed to the hospital to capture this heartbreaking story, we heard that one of the babies had already died. With heavy hearts, we walked through a maternity ward with mothers packed in like sardines - on beds, in hallways and on the filthy floor. As I stood looking down into the incubator at the tiny orphan who had already lost so much, it hurt to think that this horrible tragedy was easily preventable. Canada only loses around 20 moms a year - still heartbreaking - but with the same population, East Africa is losing 6,000.
And that's why I am here.
To bear witness to the death of these moms - and these kids - and to do whatever I can to tell these stories so that tremendous prayer and financial support will be raised up for the mothers of East Africa. The work of our partner Save the Mothers is already making a tremendous difference in hospitals, government and society at a grassroots level and Crossroads wants to empower the work to reach even further.
Will you join with us to make a difference for these moms? If you want to be part of this life-saving work, please go to http://www2.crossroads.ca/givelife and help us GIVE LIFE.