At Shanti, we believe that #MomsMatter and have mothers at the foundation of our organization – that is why we so look forward to celebrating Mother’s Day each year with our community.
This year, as we celebrate #10YearsofImpact, we’ve decided to follow up on moms who have given birth at the Shanti Uganda Birth House, both recently and not-so-recently, to see how both mama and babe are doing. We hope you will enjoy this special series of stories in celebration of Mother’s Day 2018.
Story 1: Lillian & baby Collins
Lillian was pregnant with her first child when she arrived at the Shanti Birth House on February 22, 2015. She recalls with a smile on her face that the birth was fast and easy; being just 30 minutes in total, she started pushing in the waiting room as soon as she arrived before Shanti midwife Gloria brought her to our birth suite. Her first (and still only) son, Collins, arrived soon after, and Lillian has been remembered by the staff that were there that day as a strong, admirable mother. Today, Lillian and Collins are happy living with Lillian’s mother, father, and younger brother in the family home that she grew up in.
When asked about what she loved most about Shanti, Lillian responded “in addition to the home environment and prenatal yoga classes, it was the care – the love and care from the midwives gave me confidence. Confidence in my abilities to give birth, and to be a mother.”
We were inspired by Lillian’s birth story and the beautiful relationship she seems to have with her busy, healthy, and funny 3-year-old son, and are so thankful that she was able to give birth at our Birth House where she felt supported and safe.
Story 2: Shirah & baby Joella
Shirah met with us from her shop in Kasana with her 6-month-old, Joella, cuddled up to her. Joella was born at 5am at the Shanti Birth House on October 2, 2017 and is Shirah’s second child.
Shirah and her husband moved from a town called Mityana to Kasana two years ago looking for work, and when Shirah became pregnant, they starting asking around to see where would be the best place in town to give birth. “My friend gave birth there before me, so I decided to go there too,” Shirah recalls. “Shanti is the best – there were friendly and caring midwives, it was a peaceful, calm and quiet environment, and was so nice compared to other hospitals.”
Despite having moved from her hometown, Shirah’s mother, sisters, and brothers come to visit almost every weekend, so Joella and her sister are growing up in a close family community.
When asked if she had anything she’d like to share, Shirah immediately exclaimed – “I wish all future mothers well, and thank them for the support they show one another.”
Story 3: Jennifer & baby Ryan
Jennifer had become friends with a Shanti midwife, Rachael, over the past few years since her last child was born. When she started feeling labour pains at around 1pm, she brought a close friend to Rachael’s house near the Shanti Birth House to inquire whether she was indeed getting ready to give birth – Rachael hugged her and sent her to Shanti right away with a warm smile and good wishes. Ryan was born by 7:30pm, Jennifer’s friend supporting her at her bedside, and Jennifer recalls feeling recovered within one week!
She hopes to have one more child, and says she would give birth at Shanti again without a doubt.
When Jennifer commented “I so appreciate the work Shanti does, and I recommend that they enlarge the facility to they can help more mothers,” we were thankful to be able to share with her that her wish is coming true, thanks to a generous LUSH grant dedicated to building a second Birth House! We are currently in the planning stages and are so excited to be able to expand our impact to more mothers in the Luwero district and surrounding communities of Uganda.
Story 4: Florence & baby Peter
Baby Peter was born to mother Florence and father Godfrey on September 30, 2017. The couple were married in 2017 and live with their son and Florence’s cousin, Joanne, in a small village near Kasana, Luwero. Florence sells vegetables at a stall outside her home while taking care of Peter, and was busy peeling matooke with Joanne for family dinner while we interviewed her. Godfrey was busy working the farm with a smile on his face, and came over to affectionately visit both Florence and Peter several times during our visit.
Florence decided to give birth at Shanti because her husband had heard good things about the facility – he was first introduced to Shanti many years before, as he was involved in the original construction of the Birth House 8 years ago! Florence recalled her recent birth experience fondly; she was supported by Shanti midwife Gloria and nurse Cissy, and gave birth at 4am on Sunday after arriving Saturday evening at 6pm. She appreciated the calm environment of the Birth House, and particularly the care she received from the midwives.
When asked about her favourite part of being a mother, she shared “I became more responsible, and I enjoy that. I also enjoy that the child makes me very happy,” she added with a smile.
“I urge mothers to care properly for your children, and to have a good relationship with the husband if there is one. You need to understand each other to be able to bring up the children properly.”
Shout out to all the strong mamas and supportive dads, in Uganda and in the world – you are amazing.
Story 5: Stella & baby Derek
Baby Derek was the youngest baby we met during our Mother’s Day follow up visits – born just six weeks ago to 25-year-old Stella with the help of Shanti midwife Rachael.
Stella’s story is one of strength and independence. Though she doesn’t have many resources, she was able to travel by boda boda to Shanti where she was supported with prenatal visits, support to give birth to Derek, and for postnatal visits and immunizations. Derek is Stella’s fourth child, but is only one of two children that live at home with her, due to a lack of the resources which would allow her to keep all her children at home.
Despite her hardships, she is smiling, her and her baby are healthy, and she is thankful that her other two children live nearby with her mother who continues to support her in whichever ways she can. We too are so thankful for the intergenerational support that seems to exist in so many communities of motherhood around the world, as well as for your support in whichever ways you are able to share it.
Story 6: Christine & baby Amos
Baby Amos was born on September 20, 2016 to mother Christine and father Mark. Meeting this family brightened our day – their smiles were contagious, and you could feel the love and respect they each had for each other as we interviewed them in their shop. They choose to spend 6 days a week here as a family where they play with Amos, sell electronics in the front, and run an architectural business in the back office; they also see it as an opportunity to experience community, and are very close with all of their neighbours. As if to reinforce this point, Amos’s young friend Aklam was visiting and playing blocks as we interviewed the family, acting like an older brother, laughing and guiding Amos.
Shanti midwife Joy helped bring Amos into the world, Christine’s first and only child. Christine smiled and remembered with fondness her birth experience; her father-in-law drove her and her husband to Shanti at 11pm, and Amos was born healthy and happy at 3am while Christine was flooded with love and contentment that continues to this day.
“He gives us courage. Without Shanti we might not have such a healthy, happy son. He is happy and makes us happy every day.”
“We pray that the funders continue to help Shanti, because it really helps families who cannot afford good care otherwise. We are so thankful for the good work Shanti did for us, and wish it can continue for future mothers.”
Story 7: Rose & son Derrick
We were so excited and grateful when a young mother named Rose came into the Shanti Birth House for an antenatal visit, where we learned that she had previously had a child at Shanti years before. Derrick, her only child, was born at the Shanti Birth House 7 years ago – just one year after our doors opened – on March 17, 2011.
She recalled how different the Birth House looked back then; the garden wasn’t ready, the land was unfinished, and there was no fence around the property. Kato was there though, our Head Gardener today, and she remembers him well with a smile.
Rose was just 17 when she gave birth to Derrick. She was referred to Shanti as the facility of choice in Kasana from her step-mother, Agnes. It was amazing to learn that Agnes had heard of the Birth House and care model so early on because she was part of WIGG (Shanti Uganda’s ‘Women’s Income Generating Group’), which was the very origin of Shanti in 2008.
Rose arrived at the Birth House with her mother at 6pm, and gave birth to Derrick soon after at 7pm. She shared that “after birth, they gave me blankets, clothes, everything I needed. The midwife was amazing and helped me with all the things I didn’t know, all the things my mom didn’t know. She was very nice and warm. She prepared us in every way.” After giving birth, Rose and her newborn son went home to live with her mother, step-father, and younger siblings.
7 years later in 2018, Rose is married and lives in a home with her husband, Geoffrey, and Derrick. She is four months pregnant with her second child, and has chosen to come back to Shanti Uganda for her antenatal visits, birth, and postnatal visits. She shared that she was certain she wanted to come back to Shanti after her first experience; she loves the environment and the love and care that is provided. She is also excited to try prenatal yoga classes, since they weren’t yet being offered during her first pregnancy in 2010. While Rose’s mother is still very much a part of her and Derrick’s lives, Geoffrey and her sister will be the ones coming to attend the birth this time.
“I wish the rest of the mothers in the world a beautiful day. And I urge them to love their children in the best way they can.”
Thank you, webale, to all of the strong mothers for sharing your stories with us. Thank you to our midwives and staff for supporting these holistic and beautiful experiences for mothers in Uganda, and to all of our donors and supporters. We could not do this without you.