Tuesday, January 03, 2006

You Are My Sister, And I Will Help You

Fact: Every minute a woman dies in childbirth somewhere in the world--529,000 deaths per year. Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

What do you think of when you consider the medical neccessities of giving birth? If you're like my husband and me, it probably ranges anywhere from an experienced midwife and birthing center, to a home-birth with birthing tub and qualified attendants, to a hospital room with competent staff and pain-relieving drugs. Epidural? Sure, you can have that, no problem. Doula? I had one. Respiratory therapists and an operating room on standby? You bet.

Now, imagine if you were told, "We're sorry, but the hospitals are gone, the clinics are gone, and we can't get you to any place with competent medical care. Perhaps, if enough people donate money, we'll be able to provide you with a clean plastic sheet to put between yourself and the filth all around us when the time comes, and maybe even a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord." And what if you were grateful to get that, because there were scores of thousands in the same boat or worse?

Sadly, this is still the situation foran estimated 40,000-plus Indian and Pakistani women victims of the October earthquakes. And you know what? It's winter there, too. A little browsing at the UNFPA's site will tell you more than you wanted to know. The good news is, your dollar goes a long way there. You may specify any donation amount, and as little as $10 will supply eight "birthing kits" containing, among other things, a clean plastic sheet and a new razor blade.

Count yourselves blessed if you have a roof over your head, clean water to drink, food to eat, and access to healthcare. Then go and donate to mitigate a tiny bit of the hard plight of our sisters who aren't as fortunate. Five minutes and ten bucks. It's the least you can do for your sister.


  1. Well said. Here's hoping for a little difference.

  2. Very thought provoking and defiantly emotionally touching. Personally I've sworn to never have another child at the hospital where I live due to how disturbing it was having my children there. After having a doctor tell me I'm not in labour (when it's my second child and I full well know what labour feels like) only to have my son seven weeks early and 30mins latter, I have to question the competency of their staff. But to think that I could have had my baby in the filthy gutter outside as they shoved me out the door was horrifying .. and this is exactly what these woman live with .. being forced into a gutter where they don't belong.

  3. Thanks for pointing this out - it is another one of many pressing issues surrounding the earthquake in that region.

    Of course there is the larger epidemic in these cultures (of which I'm a part off) that women are treated like second class citizens - trust me if men were in this situation, more would have been done.

  4. I love your byline "You Are My Sister and I Will Help You". I used to run a girls' club, a "safe place" for 13 and 14-year-olds. Our motto used to be, "If My Sister's In Trouble, So Am I". If we all thought that way and acted on it, as you suggest, the world would quickly become a much kinder place in which to birth babies.

  5. Seconding Virginia Gal's comment...even before the disasters, women in that area were often marginalized and treated like property. It's really no wonder that lack of birthing facilities and prenatal care aren't considered pressing issues.

    Now there's something online worth donating to. :)

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