How one Gardener Hopes to Influence a Community

By Rachel Simmet, Communications and Social Media Coordinator

Kato is a common name in the Buganda kingdom, as it is a name you must give to a youngest twin if they are a male. “There were eight Katos in my primary class.” Kato remarks, along with several that live in Nsasi village, where our gardener grew up and where the Birth House is located today. “So what do they call you?” I ask. “They call me Shanti Kato,” he says with a laugh.

Let’s Celebrate! From WIGG Members to Business Owners

Graduation ceremonies are always exciting, but Shanti Uganda celebrated a very special one this July. The Women’s Income Generating Group (WIGG) completed their business formation training program and GRADUATED to move on to the next phase of their individual business plans!

Sister Josephine Joins the Shanti Family

By Rachel Simmet, Communication & Social Media Coordinator

We are excited to announce the latest member of our team and new Head Midwife, Sister Kizito Josephine. Sister Josephine brings both experience and passion, as she has been a midwife since 1980. She was originally inspired by the nurses she met who conducted outreaches at her secondary school and she went on to study at Nsambyu Nursing and Midwifery School. It was during her studies that she learned about postpartum hemorrhaging and realized that is how her own mother passed away while giving birth to her younger sibling. “I didn’t know about it [how she died] until I went for my studies.” This lack of knowledge about health complications and common health-related issues is something that Sister Josephine hopes to change. She sees better education as instrumental in reducing the maternal and child mortality rate, which is estimated at an average of 16 deaths per day in Uganda. “We still have a long way to go to reduce the infant and maternal mortality rate… We appreciate NGOs like Shanti because they are reducing the rate.”

Midwifery Care beyond Language Barriers

By Rachel Simmet, Communications & Social Media Coordinator

Midwife Kerry Dixon recently had the opportunity to volunteer at our birth house in Ugandan and cherished her time there. Kerry has been a midwife for over 20 years and has many qualifications including being a Certified Professional Midwife and Certified Nurse-Midwife. She also has the unique experience of practicing in 4 continents over the course of her career including in the US, Pakistan, China, New Zealand, Rwanda, and now most recently, Uganda.

Shattering Glass Ceilings One Business Workshop at a Time

We have exciting news to report from central Uganda: the members of the Shanti Women’s Income Generating Group are well on their way to successful business formation!

The first phase of our business training program was completed last week with the help of Ocakacon Lawrence, a business trainer from Start and Improve Your Business Uganda (SIYB). The topics of discussion during this first

Ocakacon Lawrence presents to the group

phase included business planning, market research, record keeping and profit forecasting. Through group work, question and answer sessions and role playing, the members learned a variety of important concepts and are well-equipped to move onto phase two. Also, I’m proud to share that we had a 97% attendance rate!

Interview with Kate Dewey of Birth Arts International

Kate supporting a strong mama

Our Operations Director spoke to our doula training instructor, Kate Dewey about her work as a doula, doula instructor, mom and business woman. Kate is a mom of five kids, a doula instructor with Birth Arts International and co-owner of Let It Be Birth Doula Services, she lives in the Seattle area with her family.

What attracted you to doula work?

So I was that weird kid that liked playing pregnancy and birth as a kid, I’ve always been interested in birth. My grandma was also a big influence on me, she was a labor and delivery nurse and I used to visit her at work. I began my career in nursing school, but when I had my first daughter I realized it was the comfort part of birth, both pregnancy and postpartum that I was interested in.

What was it about your birthing experience with your daughter that changed you mind?

I didn’t know what was a doula was before the pregnancy, [back in 2006]. My husband and I didn’t end up getting one as I thought he would be enough. When my birth stalled, the nurse was actually trained as a doula and helped me turn the baby and progress to have a vaginal birth. Her support and care inspired my doula work.

From Child Brides to Girl Leaders and Mentors

child brideNearly 1 in every 2 girls in Uganda is married before the age of 18 and 60% of girls in Uganda are pregnant before they reach 18. Young girls in rural Nsaasi Village, Uganda represent some of the most marginalized girls in the region. In addition to forced marriage, high early pregnancy rates & the associated health risks, many of the girls we support have lost parents and are often living under the care of a female relative.

We see this every day because over 45% of the women we serve at The Shanti Uganda Birth House are between the ages of 14 and 19. 

The Power of Yoga

may 22 (42 of 42) (1)Things are always abuzz at Shanti in May: a large part of which is because of our Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training and Retreat! Our latest retreat took place from May 10-May 19, 2016: our retreat-goers came together for a ten-day program where they were immersed in the prenatal experience.  Surrounded by the beautiful atmosphere of Shanti Maternity and Learning Centre, this experience provided in-depth training in anatomy & physiology. It also included teaching techniques for every trimester, yoga philosophy as it relates to pregnancy and a lot of opportunity to develop confidence teaching pregnant women. After 40 incredible hours, the women are now certified as prenatal yoga teachers.

Prenatal yoga is a healthy practice to take up during pregnancy. The following are three ways in which this practice is helping the birth mothers here at Shanti, to feel great physically and mentally during their exciting 9 months.

A Home Beyond Birth: Estar’s Story


Read Estar’s Shanti Journey as told by our Communications Intern in Uganda.

There is no better time to visit Shanti than on a busy Thursday morning. As I made my way down the Birth House’s path, I was greeted by the warm smiles of Shanti’s midwives. The day was early, but there were already dozens of women participating in a family planning and postnatal nutrition workshop. With growing baby bellies, and young babies on their laps, the women watched our Traditional Birth Attendant, Flora, eager to learn. As I scanned the crowd, one woman and her young boy smiled brightly.

After having a discussion with her, I learned that her name is Estar. Estar, 27, proudly shared stories of her two children, Simon Peter, 2, and Donnatus, 9 months old. Having both been born at Shanti, her sons have become familiar with Shanti’s positive environment. Today, Donnatus and his mother walked one mile from home to receive his vaccination.

Living not far from Shanti, Estar reminisced of when she first learned about the Birth House. She recalled seeing it being built when walking down the road in 2009. Since first seeing Shanti, Estar has been visiting as a client for many years. With a beaming smile, she told me how caring Shanti’s midwives are. Having seen many other facilities throughout her life, she constantly recommends the Birth House to her family and friends as she recognizes Shanti’s staff, clean and friendly environment, and variety of services.

Shanti’s Impact to Date

IMG_0855 (1)Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, with an average of six children per woman. Additionally, 33% of women will have their first child before the age of 18. Approximately 16 women die giving birth every day in Uganda and adolescent pregnancies are at particularly high risk for complications and death. However, with access to a skilled midwife, 90% of all maternal mortality is completely preventable. It is Shanti’s mission to provide skilled midwives to all of our clients in a safe, nurturing, and empowering environment.

With the assistance and care of six registered Ugandan Midwives, one Traditional Birth Attendant and a Lab Technician, 20-30 babies are born at Shanti each month. These women are highly valued at the Birth House as their training is exceptional and uncommon. In Uganda, only 38% of midwives are fully qualified which often results in an inability to deal with complicated births.

We are so grateful to have trained and experienced midwives at Shanti who are able to facilitate the following excellent services: