The Birth of a New Vision

This is post 8 of 10 in the Broken:Beautiful series. Guest post by James Nardella.


As we talk about the vision of Isaiah and how we see it revealed in our work in Africa, I am reminded of the Lwala, Kenya, where my work is based. In Lwala, we talk about building the capacity of people to advance their own well-being. And pole pole, slowly by slowly, I have seen what it means for the community to address its own challenges. Here is just one example:

For generations women have labored and birthed at home, without care from a skilled provider. (Jena has also touched on this topic.) If complications arose, the trip to a hospital required putting the mother in a wheel barrel and rolling her down a mud road for hours. Many moms died on that road. In fact the rates of maternal and infant death in the region are the highest in all of Kenya. A baby in Lwala is 10 times more likely to die than a baby in the U.S. The community longed for new options. In response, we rallied our supporters, to transform our small clinic in Lwala to become a Community Hospital, with a dedicated maternity wing. At the same time, the Lwala Community Alliance began training and employing locals as maternal health outreach workers. In Kenya we call the program Umama Salama, which is Swahili for Safe Mothers. These maternal health workers recruit and support pregnant women to ensure they receive prenatal care and deliver with a skilled attendant, which is especially important in a place where 1 in 4 women have HIV. In the past less than 35% of women delivered with a skilled attendant, but now, as a result of Umama Salama and the new maternity, more than 80% deliver at a hospital. This year, more than 400 healthy babies will be born, many of them to HIV positive mothers. One baby at a time, we see the birth of a new vision.