2018 is a special year for us here at Shanti – 10 years ago this year, we began our journey to serve women and families in Uganda. This anniversary has given us an opportunity to reflect on our growth, impact, and all that we have learned over the years. So much of what we have accomplished is because of the support we have received, and as a way of thanking you, we are delighted to start off our year-long celebration of #10YearsofImpact by sharing some of our impact and reflections with you!
Determining the Need for Maternal Health Support
In Uganda, 16 women die during pregnancy and birth every day, with 90% of these cases being preventable. A recent UNFPA report showed that when educated to international standards, midwives can provide 90% of the essential care to women and newborns and potentially reduce maternal and newborn deaths by two thirds. With this in mind, Shanti Founder and Executive Director Natalie Angell-Besseling worked collaboratively with local stakeholders in the Luwero District of Uganda between 2008 – 2010 to determine what they felt was most needed in the community. This led us to the vision we hold today:
We imagine a world where all women have access to a midwife and are respected,
empowered and able to thrive throughout the birth process.
After buying 1 acre of land in Nsaasi Village and completing the building of our Birth House on the property, we opened our doors to the community in the fall of 2010. We welcomed the first baby born at the Birth House in 2010 – a sweet baby girl.
Impact to Date:
- 1,315 births supported by a skilled midwife
- 8,984 prenatal visits
- 3,472 postnatal visits
- 0 maternal deaths
- 7,843 clients tested for HIV and other STIs
- 1,258 family planning clients
- 9,751 child immunizations
- 419 teen girls workshops attendance
- 805 families reached through outreach
- 2569 reached through prenatal yoga, nutrition workshops, and pre/postnatal education classes
Programs We Have Developed:
- full service Birth House staffed by Ugandan midwives, Health Educators, and Village Health Team members
- prenatal and postnatal care, including postpartum home visits
- onsite laboratory for HIV/STI testing
- family planning and counselling
- weekly prenatal yoga classes
- breastfeeding support
- infant and adult immunizations
- teen health education program
- prenatal yoga teacher training retreat
- doula training retreat
- competitive internship program
- bi-monthly continuous medical education
- community garden and nutrition education program
Mother-centered comfort, safety, and care have always been at the core of what we do. Each Shanti staff member and stakeholder cares deeply about this cause, and our passion for improving the maternal health situation in Uganda has grown exponentially since the beginning. Every birth that has taken place at Shanti has uniquely expressed this passion, and with an average of 30 births taking place at the Birth House each month, many of our Shanti family are fortunate enough to celebrate the beauty of new life almost daily.
This anniversary year, we also celebrate connection and a strong community that has developed with our shared cause at the foundation. Over the years, Shanti has built a community including our core group of Ugandan staff members, community members and stakeholders, Board of Directors, and administrative team. Not to be forgotten are our daily clients consisting of mothers, newborns, children, and teens. We regularly host and have been enriched by interns, researchers, and a diverse variety of other visitors. We have grown from each person’s involvement, and have been fortunate to see and hear stories of the impact the Shanti community has had in both Uganda and around the world.
While we are full of gratitude for all that we have accomplished over the past 10 years, we are equally filled with excitement looking toward the future. Some of our most anticipated projects include:
- expansion of our Birth House to include more birth suites, a postnatal room, and private rooms for antenatal and postnatal care and counselling (thanks to funding from the amazing LUSH Cosmetics!)
- further development of the community garden and related nutrition and education programs to serve mothers, newborns, and the wider community
- expanding our outreach services to reach more women in the community and increase impact
- working towards a full service program to be able to provide treatment for clients living with HIV
- scaling our model of care throughout Uganda
We could not be more thankful for the support and encouragement that we have received since Shanti’s beginning, and we could not have done all of this without you. Thank you sincerely, webale, and we hope that you will continue to work and learn with us as Shanti continues to grow!
Keep an eye out for more posts coming up each month, as we will be sharing many special Shanti stories throughout 2018 in our year-long celebration of #10YearsofImpact.