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Kenya: Hope for Maternal Health

Aya Bonaya, 37, a mother of seven with two of her children outside their home in Rapsu village, Kenya. Photo: © 2012 Kenneth Kibet/World Vision

Aya Bonaya, 37, a mother of seven with two of her children outside their home in Rapsu village, Kenya.
Photo: © 2012 Kenneth Kibet/World Vision

“Do any of these efforts ever do any real good?”
“Aren’t these problems too complicated to ever fix?”

Have you ever been confronted with either of these questions (and more) by people who are skeptical of international relief and community development work? I wish I hadn’t, but I have. Long awkward pauses follow as my sadness and frustration build. Through experience with these questions, I’ve gotten better at casually confronting them, but the sadness remains. Sadness that these lies, excuses, and roadblocks continue in the minds of others (and honestly sadness that they creep up in me).

The problems can seem too big and are legitimately so incredibly messy and interwoven. The stats of poverty are overwhelming. It can seem tempting to let hope falter and efforts wane. But when the issues are broken down and the people are given names and stories and faces – it is THEN that we can engage. It is also when we hear that something is going well – that efforts HAVE been working and changing actual lives that we continue marching forward. So, let’s hear one and be encouraged.

Thanks to free maternal services for women in Kenya that started on June 1st, hospitals are already reporting up to a 50 percent increase in live birth deliveries. These comforting numbers combating the horrific maternal death rate in Kenya feels nothing short of miraculous. While free services are only bridging a minor portion of why women don’t give birth with trained professionals (others are that clinics are too far, an assumption that it is not necessary and the reality of quick labors), it is beyond worth it for the people who have benefitted – those mothers who are alive holding their babies, breathing sweetly in their arms.

More work needs to be done to encourage women in their need to get maternal services, changing high dangerous, backstreet abortions rates and making clinics closer to women in remote areas. But it is because we know that change is possible – that is already has been changing, that we can keep working towards the rest getting done. The mountain never seems to be conquered, but with each hill of victory, each life changed on this path of our hearts broken for global issues, we keep climbing.

“Does any of it ever do any good?” –  YES for the many and YES for the one.
“Aren’t these problems too complicated to fix?” – YES if we are alone, but NO, if we are together.

by Anna Goodworth, WOV Hartford, CT

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