Dear Sisters and Brothers:
This is Nonkululeko Tyehemba, Harlem, New York Midwife-Activist and Founder of the Harlem Birth Action Committee (HBAC). HBAC is a non-profit, grassroots, community-based organization, founded in 1989, which has done much to motivate, agitate, and educate women and their families, about overuse of medicalization of childbirth techniques. We do outreach, make home visits, hold annual pampering and empowerment conference, and provide a resource center where women can learn about the importance of being informed consumers with options.
I am taking a sabbatical from my activities in Harlem and accepting a three-month nurse-midwifery volunteer fellowship at the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Somaliland, East Africa. I am so honored to have this opportunity to work with pregnant women and new mothers in a country that has one of the highest maternity and infant mortality rates in the world! One of my daily duties will be to help train midwifery nurses to go out into the communities of Somaliland as skilled Birth Attendants.
Edna Adan Ismael, has fulfilled her lifelong dream of founding and opening the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in 2002 (http://www.ednahospital.org). This hospital has been able to reduce the maternity mortality rate to one quarter of the national average in 20 years. In addition, her midwifery school is working to train at least 1,000 midwives. Sister Adan has also been instrumental in almost eradicating female genital mutilation in her homeland.
What I learn in Somaliland, will help me make an impact on the rising maternal crisis that is occurring right here in the United States. The number of women dying of childbirth complications has increased dramatically, despite the fact that the U.S. spends more money on maternal health than any other country in the world. In fact, every day at least 2 women die of pregnancy-related causes every day in the U.S, than those in 40 other countries combined. In addition, African-American women are nearly 4 times as likely to die of birth-related complications than White women. These rates and disparities have not changed in 20 years.
When I return back to the U.S., I plan to increase my midwifery activism in helping women to become more educated consumers of reproductive health care, as well as to demystify the process of birth. I will help women to be more informed of their rights and options in this highly medical society. The lack of knowledge and information is a major barrier to accessing quality health care and is also a contributing factor in maternal deaths in this country.
I will keep you informed of my journey through emailed summaries, videos etc. I will leave for Somaliland the week of February 20, 2014. My goal is to raise $2,500 with which to pay my airfare and other travel costs and to buy the necessary supplies I need for this trip. All donations are appreciated and welcomed!
Please make your donation through my GoFundMe.com page (http://www.gofundme.com/Nonkululeko-in-Somaliland) or if preferred, make checks payable to: Nonkululeko Tyehemba (mail to: APEX Educational Systems, PO Box 28667, PHILA, PA 19151).
Nonkululeko Tyehemba, Nurse-Midwife
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