Written by Julia Keast, Monitoring and Evaluations Intern
There is nothing better than being at Shanti Uganda’s birth center on a Thursday. On any given Thursday you will likely find Flora, Shanti’s traditional birth attendant, leading a pre-natal yoga class, expectant mothers waddling through the reception area waiting for their antenatal appointments, new mums cradling their infants. Last Thursday Flora gave a short session on breastfeeding to a group of six new mums, who sat on straw mats in the warm June sun. A few of the mums were breastfeeding, and I watched as the women laughed throughout Flora’s animated presentation. I also managed to engage in a periodic staring contest with a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 6 months old. She won. Once the workshop was finished, Flora turned to a large group of pregnant women and led an energetic yoga class. Thursdays at Shanti are always so full of life.
And the midwives are always kept busy. Unreliable electricity and the inability to refrigerate vaccines for long periods of time means that Shanti has had to dedicate just one day a week to providing vaccinations (Thursdays). Women come from as far away as Kampala to have their children vaccinated at Shanti. The staff here has also been kept busy because Shanti has been steadily gaining more and more clients. Over the past 5 months, the number of deliveries at Shanti has increased; more women are given a second dose of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria; and more infants are vaccinated against childhood illnesses. The midwives tell me that the increased use of Shanti’s services is likely due to positive feedback through word of mouth. As the community continues to increase its trust in Shanti, it seems to me like the staff here has a lot to be proud of.