In a community as remote as Atiak, the few resources accessible here are often a laboring woman’s only lifeline. I have ridden along on labor calls that have taken an hour or more down dirt roads, around potholes that could swallow a person whole, and through ditches that have taken down massive trucks with one poorly planned maneuver on the part of the driver.
Earth Birth is fortunate enough to have a car (the only one in the community) that operates as an ambulance, which enables the organization to reach marginalized women and families who would otherwise be left to decide between walking to the clinic or delivering alone. The car, a 1993 Land Cruiser complete with a Boyz II Men cassette tape, may actually be some sort of time travel machine back to the end of the 20th Century, but here in rural Atiak it is a modern luxury for laboring women and has already saved numerous lives. In fact, the vehicle may have saved a life just this morning. We received a call that a woman was in labor in one of the surrounding villages. When our driver and Nighty arrived, the woman was hemorrhaging on the roadside. The baby had not been delivered, but the placenta had detached and was blocking the cervix. Our driver and Nighty were able to rush her to the clinic where the midwives determined that there were no fetal heart tones and that the woman needed to be transferred to the nearest hospital – 2 hours away in Gulu – in order to stop the excessive bleeding and deliver the baby in a way that could at least save the mother’s life. A midwife helped the woman into the Land Cruiser and will work towards managing the bleeding while on the drive to the hospital. Hemorrhaging is one of the leading preventable causes of maternal mortality in the developing world and without the Earth Birth vehicle it is likely that a young woman would have contributed to that statistic this morning. Now there is at least hope. Hopefully, I’ll be ale to update the blog with her condition later this evening.
The car, while necessary, is expensive. Between fuel and maintenance it costs Earth Birth approximately $10,000 per year to upkeep the vehicle. The co-founders are currently looking for a funder and I promised to get the word out through this blog. If you or anyone you know can contribute towards this essential resource please send Rachel an email at email@example.com or visit the website:
Thanks again to all of you for your emotional support this past week!