Staci Bishop

Thursday, June 26, 2014

nYn in Uganda | Mercy for Mamas

I've just returned from an amazing trip to Uganda with Mercy for Mamas and wanted to share a quick update.


Mercy for Mamas was started by Melissa Busby who adopted from Uganda in 2010. She learned that her daughter, Mercy, was orphaned because her mother died in childbirth. Melissa began to dig into the grim statistics about birth in Uganda and learned that 1 in 32 women die from pregnancy or childbirth related complications. It was then that she discovered Mama Kits.

These contain the basic supplies that a woman needs to have a clean and sterile birth (cotton wool, soap, gloves, cord tie, razor blade, plastic sheeting). In Uganda, a woman cannot deliver at a hospital unless she provides her own supplies. The cost of these items is only around $7 but many village women do not have the means to purchase them.

In an effort to honor Mercy's mother, the Busby's asked a few friends back in the States to help them purchase some Mama Kits for distribution. The idea took off like wildfire and Mercy for Mamas was born. To date, this organization has distributed over 10,000 Mama Kits in Uganda.

Fast forward to 2014 

A couple of times a year, Melissa takes a team of women to Uganda to distribute the kits and I was honored to tag along. We were in Uganda for 10 days and distributed about 2000 kits. We put 1000 directly into the hands of pregnant mothers and the other half were left with organizations that work directly within the communities for future needs.

Not only did we distribute the kits but we provided prenatal education and did basic examinations. We had a Ugandan nurse traveling with us who translated the information into Luganda, the native language. She talked to them about hygiene, vaccinations, the importance of prenatal care and when to be seen. In Uganda, the average prenatal care consists of just 4 exams.
Agnes, teaching under the gathering tree. 

I shared information on comfort measures during labor, birth, and breastfeeding tips. I was shocked to learn how the village women treat each other in labor. It's not supportive at all. I showed them ways they can work together to ease a laboring mother's discomfort. We also had a L&D nurse on our team and a pediatric nurse who addresses questions and concerns in their area of expertise. Overall, I felt like we provided them with some solid information that they most likely had never heard before.
Demonstrating the abdominal lift.

We set up several clinics for basic examinations as many of the women had never been seen for prenatal care. Others were experiencing what they felt to be a complication. Sometimes our clinics were on a bus, behind a curtain, or just a mat on the floor. Most of the things we saw were mild and easily resolved such as sciatica, heartburn, round ligament pain, general aches and pains, ect.  We referred out issues like UTI, yeast infection, elevated blood pressure, and STDs. By the end of the week, we had easily performed 100 exams but I totally lost count. Some of these mother's had never heard their baby's heartbeat before and it was so sweet to let them listen to that precious little swooshing.

To recap, we visited 6 villages, a women's prison, 3 crisis pregnancy centers, and 2 orphanages. We also held 2 missionary dinners to encourage expatriate women who are working full time in Uganda and building the day-to-day relationships with these women.
This little one had a tongue tie. 

It was an amazing journey! I have plenty of specific stories to share so be on the lookout for more posts coming soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about Mercy for Mamas here or read about the trip from our photographer's perspective.
Mothers and babies who delivered with a Mama Kit.
Note: All photos courtesy of A Southern Ruckus. Was so thankful to have her on the trip!