It’s often said that the day a woman gives birth is the most dangerous day of her life. Sylvia Namakoye knows all too well the dangers of pregnancy and birth. Living in the rural village of Nabukhoma, Bukiende, Sylvia’s home was too far from the closest health centre to walk to her antenatal appointments. Nor could she afford to pay for transportation. As a result, she suffered sickness during her complicated pregnancy. “I did not do any work since I was very sick at home. My legs were swollen and my blood pressure was very high and I could not even walk. I hated myself because of what I was going through. I thought that God had forgotten about me.”
While Sylvia is a committed Christian, her circumstances caused her to be isolated during her pregnancies. She delivered her first five children at home without the help of a trained health worker.
With her sixth pregnancy, Sylvia was in trouble. She needed help. Thankfully, one of her neighbours is a Cascade health group leader who encouraged her to join her neighbourhood circle group and get connected to other mothers. At the time, they were being trained on maternal and child health.
For the first month, Sylvia never missed a meeting. But as her pregnancy progressed, so did her illness. Cascade group members visited her at home and realized she was very sick and should not—in fact, could not—walk to meetings anymore. Her new friends rallied around her and collected money to pay her transportation fare to the closest health centre. They made sure she had food to eat. They even moved their meetings closer to her house so she could still benefit from the health training.
“The support from our group helped me to deliver a healthy baby, and after delivery, group members were supporting me emotionally, socially, and financially. For the first time, I managed to attend antenatal care and deliver my child at the hospital,” Sylvia says.
FH staff, health centre workers, and Sylvia’s Cascade group worked together to save not only her life, but also her baby’s. At the clinic, she was treated for high blood pressure and safely delivered her sixth child. Her group even used their personal funds to pay for her medication until she had fully recovered at home. FH staff connected Sylvia to the Rotary Club of Mbale who visited her at home, bringing food and other basic care items. “I felt loved and got to meet new people and friends,” Sylvia says. “I am now saved. I thank God for having enabled me to make it through life.”
“Before, people largely used local medication and they would go to traditional birth attendants to deliver,” Sylvia continues. “Some women would die and others would get obstetric complications. After FH intervention in our community, many people now believe going to hospital for antenatal care and delivery services is good and they have hope that they will always be well when in the hands of health workers.”
“My baby is inspirational to me and the entire community. I learned that there are those who are willing to help the less privileged.”