Today I’d like to introduce you to a local, Vancouver based charity doing important work to improve maternal safety and reduce HIV transmission between mothers and babies in Uganda.
Who We Are
The Shanti Uganda Society improves infant and maternal health, provides
safe women-centered care and supports the well-being of birthing mothers and
women living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
Shanti Uganda provides four main services to Ugandan women:
- Maternal Health Care – Staffed by registered Ugandan midwives and a traditional birth attendant, the Shanti Uganda Birth House provides prenatal care, nutrition counselling, on-site laboratory testing and medical care for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, labour services with emergency transport to hospital and full postnatal care.
- Teen Girls Health and Wellness Program – These workshops are designed to empower and enable girls by providing information, tools and role models help reduce maternal mortality associated with teen pregnancies.
- Sustainable Communities Program – Shanti Uganda uses innovative sustainable technologies to help build communities, including a safe drinking water filtration system at the Birth House, Onsite Community Garden and monthly gardening workshops.
- Women’s Income Generating Group – This group supports and empowers HIV positive women by employing them and giving them skills training, monthly workshops on financial skills, a bicycle to travel to work and back, and access to all the health services at the Birth House.
The importance of safe, woman-centered care during pregnancy and birth is universal. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Canada or Uganda, pregnancy and birth is a life-and-death event in a woman’s life. Safe, healthy birth matters.
I discovered my passion for woman-centered midwifery care about halfway through my pregnancy with Beatrice. I had access to midwives at the local hospital, but the care felt like being a object on an assembly line. I wasn’t happy with the impersonal nature of my appointments. I had questions that I wanted to ask, but nobody had the time or relationship with me to answer them fully. There was one midwife who took my blood pressure and another who checked my hemoglobin levels. I wanted someone I knew who would be there when I needed her. So I switched to a homebirth midwife, and went on to have an amazing, complication-free homebirth.
That birth was a transformative experience for me. The process taught me that I was strong, way stronger than I ever thought I was. And it taught me the importance of being in a safe place, and having a safe, trusted person by my side. While I was learning about Shanti Uganda before I wrote this post, I read this and it really resonated with me:
“Painted on the Birth House walls is a message in the local language that translates, ‘There is a secret in our culture. It’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong’.”
Shanti Uganda Birth Partners
With financial support, the Shanti Uganda Birth House will become a model birth and education facility and will improve Maternal and Infant Health throughout Uganda. Birth Partners are financial supporters who give regular monthly donations, helping Shanti Uganda continue to provide safe, woman-centered care to mothers and babies in Uganda. If you feel so moved to become a Birth Partner, you’ll receive a special welcome package and quarterly updates on the births your donation has made possible.
Safe, healthy pregnancy and birth is something I want to see available to women no matter where they live. I’m so glad to see Shanti Uganda working to make safe birth a reality for women in Uganda, especially HIV positive women and those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to health care and birth support. In Uganda, 1 in 22 women will die in childbirth. Shanti Uganda is working to change that.