Imagine not having access to a midwife or healthcare professional that you need for a happy, healthy pregnancy.
In Uganda, 16 women die every day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth—many of which could be prevented with the assistance of a midwife. Unfortunately, most women and girls in Uganda don’t have access to healthcare professionals, sexual health education or counselling. And with the second-highest fertility rate in the world, many are looking to one place for the resources needed to support their maternal health: Shanti Uganda.
Meet Shanti Uganda
With maternal mortality so high across the country, Shanti Uganda began with a simple vision: to unite traditional birthing practices with modern techniques, and to give communities impacted by war, poverty and HIV/AIDS access to birth education and resources.
In 2010, Shanti Uganda opened the doors of its birthing center with the guidance of Ugandan midwives, health workers and members within the community. Today, it has become an even greater place of hope with full-service maternity care, a community garden and sex education workshops for teen girls and boys. Their model is one that can be duplicated throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and other low resource regions around the world, so everyone can get the education and services required for sexual health.
The Birth House
Powered by solar energy, the Shanti Uganda Birth House is a bustling place filled with new families and dedicated healthcare providers. Their staff consists of midwives, a nursing assistant, traditional birth attendant and a lab technician to give their patients a full range of services that support them before, during and after childbirth. Ugandan women face a 1 in 22 chance of dying in childbirth, and the Birth House helps to eliminate these risks. Open 24/7, all women are welcomed to the house like family where they’re able to find a home-like environment that’s safe and nurturing.
Girls’ health and empowerment
The Luwero district has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 60 percent of Ugandan girls miss school because of their periods. Add to that a lack of reproductive health education, and girls in this area are left with very few choices.
Shanti’s three-day workshop is just one way that teen girls are being empowered. A Shanti midwife takes girls through such topics as gender roles and inequality, dispelling myths about periods, sexual harassment, family planning, avoiding early pregnancy, leadership training and more. The courses are designed to bring girls together and offer them the education they need to make healthier choices and more informed decisions, while also giving them the opportunity to connect with others and share their experiences.
A focus on sustainability
A solar-powered Birth House uses the power of the sun to keep things running seamlessly at Shanti. It also features a rainwater harvesting system that offers safe drinking water to all mothers and their families using an innovative filtering system.
Shanti also features a community garden where fresh fruits and vegetables that are local to the area are grown: from guavas to beans, bananas, avocados, coffee and hibiscus. The garden feeds many of the inhabitants of the Birth House, but also acts as a place to learn about health and nutrition, too, including healthy eating during pregnancy, sustainable agriculture and water purification techniques that participants can use in their own lives and families.
Want to get involved? Help Shanti expand the Birth House, donate money or even supplies, or purchase a gift that can make a real difference for mothers in Uganda. You can also pick up Charity Pot Body Lotion, and we’ll donate 100 percent of the purchase to groups just like Shanti!