The Healthy Mum’s Program
Maternal mortality is a devastating challenge to women living in rural Rwanda. Too often the women do not have easy access to health care facilities and support during their pregnancy. This can lead to complications and death of mother and infant.
Maternal and child survival are high health priorities for Rwanda and the Healthy Mums Program seeks to assist the mother during her pregnancy by offering one-on-one support from locally trained , “Agents of Health”, who make the regular visits to the home. The training has now spread to 108 communities. As a result many more women in the project are visiting the health centre for regular check ups and attending the hospital for their delivery.
Either chickens or a goat is given to the mother to assist with her kitchen garden and therefore some of her nutritional needs have been addressed. Ongoing education about nutrition, family planning, agriculture, hygiene and parenting is also provided in the local community. The program is reporting better outcomes for the health of the mother and more full term babies. It also provides the much needed emotional support to lonely and isolated women living in poverty.
Now over 2300 mothers are benefiting from the project and the more recent projects include the husbands and so the whole family is involved.
The Bishop of the Kigeme Diocese notes that in an area that is still recovering from the affects of the genocide, “The first impact that we have from this program is that it has brought people together. It has created friendship”.
The main strengths of the project are identified as:
- Relationship building since 2006
- Consistency with government vision 2020
- Volunteers from North America and Rwanda brings skills and knowledge
- Reduces isolation and encourages participant motivation
- Participants learn financial responsibility, cooperation and peer support
- Funding does not promote dependency
- Increased use of local health services
- Success stories of women who have moved away from poverty
- A model for other districts in Rwanda