“Most women arrive on the back of a motorbike. They’re coming from villages or clinics out in the country, 30 or 40km away in the middle of the night along inaccessible tracks and unmade roads.
“They have contractions, they have been in labour for many hours, sometimes days – then they climb on the back of a motorbike and travel through the night – how can you do that? And then the motorbike taxi has to be paid for.”
So says Dr Corrie Verduyn, who is putting her call into action as the lead doctor for women’s health at Kiwoko hospital in rural Uganda.
It feels especially appropriate at this time, when we reflect on the birth of Jesus, that we should also celebrate Corrie’s work of love and care. The focus of much of her work is childbirth, and she is doing wonderful things.
Fewer new mothers are dying
Compared to the national average in Uganda, where one new mother in every 30 will die, in the past year at Kiwoko just three out of 2,300 died.
HIV not passed on from mothers to children
Corrie and her team reduced the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to ZERO
And now imagine what else your support for other mission partners like Corrie can do – how it can help to train, and to teach, to challenge, care and change – and how it can bring that spark of love into the world that any celebration of Christmas is really all about.
Helping change mindsets
“One of the things I work on, is a change in mindset,” says Corrie. “The death rate among babies and mothers in childbirth is so high – it’s the third biggest cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Uganda is no exception. Getting across to midwives and doctors that it doesn’t have to be like this is a real challenge, they are so used to mothers dying.
“We do well in Kiwoko: once they are here we can help them – and that is good – but it is tragic that it is not better elsewhere. These things are so preventable, and I know that something could be done for these other mothers and children, if only the capacity was there.
“So teaching is one of my big priorities. There is a national training programme, and midwives sit national exams, but often their hands-on experience is poor. Midwives might have learned the theory but never learned in practice, so of course they can only do what they have seen before.
“I run workshops to improve their level of understanding. It can be hard, but the midwives are becoming more confident and skilled, and this is a great step forward.”
Corrie has a level of professional medical experience that would normally be beyond the reach of a rural hospital in Uganda, or in any similar isolated rural community.
Motivated by Christian love and faith Corrie and the staff at Kiwoko can make a powerful and lasting difference for a whole community.
For Corrie – as for other mission partners –this service is a simple return of the love and hope that each of us is freely given in Jesus’ own birth. This is how Corrie understands it:
“I am from a poor family; God gave me the privilege to study and become what I am. So, I am grateful to God, and am grateful for the skills I have. I want to give back to people and share this. I see that I need to put these skills to good use and not just get rich from what I have been given.
“I have seen that God has a purpose in my life, and that is at Kiwoko,” she says.
And now imagine what else your support for mission partners like Corrie can do – how it can help to train, and to teach, to challenge, care and change – and how it can bring that spark of love into the world that any celebration of Christmas is really all about.