Volume 8

~ News From "Your Birthing Family" ~

Issue 5

Charis Around the World

Childbirth in Kenya
by Jannekah Guya

Birthing room in a Kenyan hospital

Last month Kenya got a new president.  Whether or not Kenya ELECTED a new president is up for debate.  However, while the voting, tallying, and Supreme Court case disputing the results were all without a doubt flawed, if not completely corrupt, Kenya achieved a major victory in that the entire three-week ordeal ended peacefully and with very little violence or chaos.

Kenyans vote along tribal lines more than anything else, so political campaigning makes little, if any difference.  But that doesn’t stop presidential hopefuls from spending millions flying around the country to make promises they won’t keep.  Some of the big promises our new president made when he was on the campaign trail were promising to create a million jobs, giving out free laptops to all first grade elementary school children, and free maternal healthcare for all Kenyan women.  Even in his first speech as president he reemphasized that within the first 100 days of his presidency maternal healthcare will be free.

There are two things I would like to say about this seemingly wonderful promise.  One is that it is unlikely that it will be kept.  The second is, with all my heart I hope and pray that it isn’t.

Apart from the fact that the Kenyan government is notoriously corrupt and keeps very few of its promises in the first place, the biggest issue here is that this idea is completely unrealistic and incredibly dangerous.  First of all, waiving fees for the mother is only the teeniest tiny tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing the maternal healthcare nightmare in Kenya.  How will it help maternal health and survival if a mother can go for free to a clinic that is understaffed; filthy; has outdated, nonfunctioning equipment; and personnel who are undereducated, underpaid, and overworked, causing them to unload their ignorance and frustrations on the women seeking their care?  How will it help a woman to go to a clinic where there are already 3 laboring/birthing women to a single bed so she must deliver on the floor….by herself, because there is no available staff member to attend to her.  Even if this is free, isn’t driving women to such a place very likely putting them and their babies MORE at risk?  And that is why I hope this policy completely flops.

Oh how I wish they would put that promised money into better equipping birth attendants so that the need for a mother to go to the hospital is very rare in the first place.  And the rest into the hospitals so that in the rare case that an emergency did arise, the mother and baby would be cared for in a clean, safe, well equipped environment.  Cared for is something that no one is in Kenyan health facilities.  Apart from having enough staff who are also skillful in providing good medical care, Kenya is in desperate need of medical personnel who don’t mistreat, humiliate, or outright abuse their patients, not to mention harm them with malpractice.  There is no accountability in place to address this issue.

This proposed and promised policy is just another tragic example of how oh so often, human beings arrogantly try to solve the world’s problems with selfish ideas of grandeur.  Far too often, those of us trying to develop the undeveloped world invent extravagant, outrageously expensive “solutions” to problems we haven’t even begun to understand.  Worst of all, in doing so, we more often than not make things far worse.

One of my favorite things about God is that HIS solutions are so majestically simple.  The more I come to know Him and the more I work in community development, the more I experience this to be true.  The problem with us is we overcomplicate things and I think it’s often due to an arrogant desire to display our complex creativity and brilliance.  But that’s just one more place we get it wrong.

God says the greatest is the least.  He is most impressed with the one who is most humble and simple among us.  These are the ones he uses to shame the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27&28) Look at how He sent His Son!  Look at how He saved the entire world!  Not in pompous splendor, but in humble simplicity.

I guess the point is, in any case when we are trying to help others, whether one person or millions, we must be so careful to examine our motives and seek God for HIS solutions because His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours as the Heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:8&9). Any time we help others for selfish gain or out of our limited carnal understanding the consequences can be tragic.  In the case of the new Kenyan president and all the precious mothers and babies in this country, the consequences could be deadly.  On the surface his plan seems impressive, generous, compassionate, and right inline with the international push to lower maternal – infant death rates.  I believe that is the only reason he has made this promise – because it makes him look good.  But the reality is it was a selfish, arrogant, ignorant promise which if implemented will turn Kenyan health facilities into more of a death trap than they already are.  Anyone who truly cared about the well being of mothers and babies would know and understand this.  The Kenyan healthcare system DOES need a total overhaul, but we must not experiment with and risk the lives of Kenyan mothers and babies in the process!  Before any such policy is put into place a deconstruction and reconstruction of the entire Kenyan health system and infrastructure MUST occur.  And I believe this should and must begin with the “least of these”, which I will share my thoughts on next month.

To be continued….

Three laboring/birthing women to a single bed so some deliver on the floor

Our International Charis Family
Your stories from around the world touch us and we pray for your safety.
Thanks, Love and Blessings to every one of you!

'Behold, I will bring them from the north country, And gather them from the ends of the earth,
 Among  them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and The one who labors with child,  together,
 A great throng shall return there...And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.'
 Jeremiah 31:8, 14~~~
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May 2013