We learn something new every time we do a safe birthing seminar out in the Maasai villages around Arusha, Tanzania. This trip was certainly no exception!
One of our volunteers last year, Karly Hargood, from the UK wanted to do something with lasting results out in a village. We told her the safe birthing seminars save lives!
Thursday we sent our big car and rented another car and 2 groups traveled about 4 hours out to a remote village. Karly and Anna greeted them with fun, games and lollypop quizzes like which mom has had the most babies, etc.
This is the village where our baby Neema Grace is from. She lost her mother in childbirth almost three years ago and her father was unknown. Many of our babies come from these Maasai villages. You may ask why? There are probably many reasons; lack of good medical care, lack of good nutrition, their tall, thin bones and narrow pelvic structure typical of Maasai and any number of other reasons. But one thing that certainly does not help is FGM or female circumcision.
If you follow Neema Village you have seen this picture below of baby Neema Grace with Bekah when we picked her up as an abandoned baby from the hospital. She is a big girl now walking into her village, above, with Nanny Juliette.
As the cars drove up to the village, they were greeted by the excited women singing and trilling.
I love their faces of joy as they greet visitors to their village!
It is such dry and desolate land out there it makes the vibrant colors these women wear almost pop your eyes.
They separated the group, young girls in one, women in another and then they pulled the men out into a separate group and Ben talked with them. The men don’t usually stay long at the women’s seminars anyway once the teacher starts talking about birthin’ the babies. (If you are squeamish you may want to skip this next part.)
Two Tanzanian midwives did the women’s seminar and they actually had a life-size partial mannequin of a woman’s reproductive parts to help demonstrate. It raised some eyebrows! Two lifesaving things they told the girls, first you must wait until age 18 to have a baby, your hips are not wide enough to birth until age eighteen or more. Some of these girls marry at 11 or 12. Then they tell them the circumcision you do of scrapping off a woman’s private parts leaves her with scar tissue which does not stretch like normal skin so she tears and bleeds to death during delivery.
At the seminar Karly gave out the safe birthing kits with nine things that save lives to the older women who deliver babies in that village.
The interesting information that came out of this seminar was that not only do they suture up the young girls after circumcision but if a woman’s husband goes off for a year or so to work, they cut and re-suture her closed again! UGH! These poor women don’t have a chance! When Ben talked to the men, he told them, “You are killing your women by doing this.”
The loss of Maasai women in childbirth is much higher than the average maternal death rate for Africa which the last time we checked was about one in twenty nine. This is not a statistic but we have been told by a group from church that works with Maasai that one in seven moms out in the Maasai villages will die in childbirth which makes having a baby the most dangerous thing a Maasai woman can do. It makes you cringe doesn’t it!
Even girls this young, below, are cut.
Since Neema Grace does not have a mother or father, the village leaders have given us permission to put her in school in Arusha. She will attend the same boarding school, Hope for Maasai Girls, where Memusi and Nengai go. The three girls will all come home to Neema village for school breaks and we will take them out for visits to their villages. We have also told them if you cut them, we will bring the police and put you in jail!
Hear the excitement of the Maasai women as they greet the Safe Birthing Teachers in the video below.
Bless those of you who sponsor our boarding school children. We just need about 16 more sponsors to have at least one sponsor per baby at Neema Village!! Contact us if you would like to know which babies have no sponsors. email@example.com