Kristyn recently traveled to Laos, and she has shared her story with me!
Doula Mom on a
It’s hard to believe than less than two weeks ago, I was bumping through a river in a 4-wheel drive truck en route to a remote ethnic minority village in
These experiences led me to research CBKs and their impact on maternal and infant mortality. I found thatMonths later, kits and training materials in hand, I headed to southern
Laos, a country I had visited many times while
living in ,
has worse-than-Afghanistan rates of maternal and infant mortality rates and
could be served by the kits. So, I emailed
several Lao organizations and offered to donate kits and provide training. One of them took me up on my offer. Thailand
In the days after the training, we visited a number of Tahoy villages. The clinics were spare: little to offer in terms of medicines, equipment consists of wood slat beds, and refrigeration was not available. The villages were from another time: too many naked kids to count, bamboo dwellings on stilts, no electricity, not a single store. The people are still living as they have for centuries: rodents and roots supplement newly-introduced subsistence rice farming.
I learned from the nurses that birthing is steeped in religious tradition, often with fatal consequences. Due to animist religious beliefs, women and girls give birth alone in the forest. The nurses suggested starting a “Safe Birth Outreach” program to educate women and families about the dangers of birthing alone, how to make birth safe using the Clean Birth Kits, the need for breastfeeding, etc…
The nurses have also requested that CleanBirth.org develop illustrated posters to be hung in villages that caution against harmful behaviors in pregnancy (e.g. smoking), explain the warning signs of possible problems (e.g. pre-eclampsia) and show hygienic birthing practices using the Clean Birth Kits.
Now, at home, I am committed to giving my Lao partner organization and the Tahoy nurses the funds and supplies they need to improve maternal and infant health. I feel lucky to support them in their work. Every mother deserves the chance to survive birth and to give her baby the best start. For just a few dollars, we can make that happen.
Please consider donating Clean Birth Kits at www.cleanbirth.org/donate. Looking for a holiday gift that keeps on giving? Give a donation of $25, which supports 5 mothers, and get a beautiful card to give as a gift: http://cleanbirth.org/holiday-cards/.
Thank you for reading.
Kristyn Zalota is the founder of CleanBirth.org, a non-profit working to improve maternal and infant health in
. She is a doula and childbirth educator who lives
with her husband and two kids in Laos http://cleanbirth.org/blog/ New
Haven, CT. Read more about her trip to Laos on her blog: