Want to join us in making a difference to the lives of women in Africa? Then read on...
Who are we?
We are two friends, both registered midwives from Melbourne, Australia who have decided to take their passion of working with women during the child birthing continuum and head over to Africa to share our knowledge and skills with the women who need it the most. In November we will be leaving behind our husbands (and 6 children!) and heading to Barhirdar, Ethiopia for a month to volunteer as midwives in a local maternity hospital. We are so excited about this wonderful opportunity, where we will enjoy learning from the local midwives and doctors as much as they will (hopefully!) enjoy learning from us.
What are we raising money for?
We are raising money to benefit the Barbara May Foundation, which is an Australian foundation that seeks to improve the lives of women in Africa by providing accessible maternity care to women. The majority of programs focus on women living in rural areas and among poorer communities and are provided to those in need regardless of race, religion or financial capacity. Ethiopia has a burgeoning population of 105 million (World Bank, 2017), making it the second-most populous country in Africa. In 2015, there were 3,200,000 babies born in Ethiopia; that's approximately 8,700 babies per day! (UNICEF, 2017). The ratio of nurses and midwives is 0.3 per 1000 people and as such, the maternal health outcomes in Ethiopia are amongst the poorest in the world. The maternal mortality rate is 353 per 100,000 live births. The neonatal mortality rate is 28 per 1,000 live births (UNICEF, 2017). The major causes of maternal death are obstructed labour/uterine rupture, haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and infection. Moreover, around 200 000 Ethiopian women and girls each year experience disabilities sustained during childbirth such as a ruptured uterus, pelvic inflammatory disease and fistula*.
Barbara May's founder and medical director, Dr Andrew Browning AM is an Australian trained obstetrician and gynaecologist who has worked in Ethiopia and Tanzania for more than 13 years as a senior fistula surgeon. Andrew has led a team that has gone on to transform several rundown health centres into safe and functional maternal health centres for poor women, and those living in remote regions. These centres are now training midwives, which provides improved birthing outcomes and prevents birth injuries such as fistulas. Andrew also travels extensively around Ethiopia and neighbouring countries teaching local doctors how to perform fistula repair surgery. It is estimated that there are approximately two million women in Africa living with this isolating and painful condition.
Earlier this year Andrew and his aunt, midwife Valerie Browning were both awarded the Member (AM) In the General Division Of The Order Of Australia for significant service to the international community through the provision of obstetric care to women in Africa. In addition, Andrew became the new Chair of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Committee for Fistula and Genital Trauma. More information about the wonderful work of both Dr Andrew Browning AM and Valerie Browning AM can be found at:
Thank you in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to us.
Please note that we are fully funding this trip ourselves. All proceeds raised via GoFundMe will not be going to us, but will go directly to fund projects at the maternity hospital in BahirDar (solar power, equipment etc) and/or the Barbara May Foundation directly (new hospital builds, medical equipment etc). The Barbara May Foundation relies on donations from the public and from time donated by volunteering doctors and midwives.
* Obstetric Fistula injuries & treatment
Eradicated in the first world in the late 1800’s, obstetric fistula is a severe injury that can occur to a woman in childbirth caused by an obstructed labour. In the developed world, the injury would be prevented by a caesarean section. This intervention is often unavailable to many women in remote and poor regions and they can labour for up to 10 days causing terrible injury, usually a stillborn child, and in the worst cases, death. Often women go untreated for years, suffering ongoing pain, degradation and isolation from their communities due to uncontrollable urinary and/or faecal incontinence (Barbara May Foundation, 2019)